by Keen Behringer on 11/12/19
When I was a child it seemed like summer lasted a lifetime. I remember spending long, hot days in the barn riding, playing and bonding with my fellow barn rats. Fall would come and it seemed like the beautiful colors, from brilliant leaves, dripped off of every tree for an eternity.
As we get older it seems the seasons change more and more rapidly with every passing summer. We seem to have less and less time to accomplish our equestrian or personal goals, before the dread of winter sets in. Suddenly we are preparing for the cold, putting away hoses, cutting back plants, raking leaves, installing heaters in water tanks, focused strictly on the impending winter. At some point all we are doing is going through the motions. We forget about the process our goals and the joy of the journey. Rather than enjoying every day we are given, we anxiously anticipate with horror, the impending deep freeze. This is especially true here in the northern states.
Just as the seasons change throughout the year, we go through changing seasons of our lives. With each passing year our perception of our lives changes as well, depending on the particular stage of our existence. In this season of my life I get tired, sometimes I get burnt out. Once upon a time it was all horses, all the time with little to no responsibility otherwise. Each season brings its own challenges but keeping a positive mindset is imperative to personal growth and goals as an equestrian.
The deep freeze set in early this year and for most, this show season is over. There is a feeling of finality as winter sets in. All there is to look forward to is, the long, dark, days ahead. It is easy to look short term and think there is plenty of time to prepare for the next show. The really great riders, are the ones who struggle through and keep motivation. They give themselves encouragement regardless of the season of the year, or of their life. It is important to not lose you enthusiasm, keeping your mind on long term goals when things seem difficult.
Great riders put in the hard work when it's uncomfortable, when it's cold or when there isn't a big competition rapidly approaching. They maintain a good level of fitness year round, even after the next show is no longer staring them in the face when they open their calendar.
I don't condone grinding a show horse with training six days per week all year round and some conditions aren't conducive for riding. Your drive has to be there anyway. If your show horse is let down, not working for a few weeks of free time after show season, there is always a lesson horse to ride. Take your stirrups off the saddle to even the playing field when you ride the old lesson horse. If the temperatures fall to dangerous levels or you don't have an indoor riding arena, study your video footage from last show season, read some great books on horsemanship and the biomechanics of the horse.
This year we lost some iconic horsemen and women. It has been hard to swallow for all who loved and admired them. The seasons are changing, some of the greats are leaving this place. We need to try to absorb all the knowledge we can while we still have the chance. Learn what you can from watching everyone. Thats right I said watching, and I said everyone. For some reason that seems to be a lost art. I see students playing or looking at their cell phones outside the practice ring when a legend of a horseman is training a horse right there in front of them! Look up, see what they are doing, take it all in. If you're at the barn watch the other riders, really watch them. Watch what they do right, watch what they do better than you, watch what you think they can improve upon (but keep your opinions to yourself, for the love of God) What would you teach them if you could?
Remember to dream big. The sky is the limit with what you can do. This is true as long as you keep yourself strong physically and mentally through the tough times, the slow times, the cold times and the times you just don't feel like it. Stay pumped as the seasons change and for God's sake dress warm!