I’m not sure if it’s SAD or what (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but I sometimes feel like I was riding a real summer ‘high’ and now I’m falling into a fall ‘low’…
I’m riding through the tough stuff, but I find myself over sensitive to even the most basic things- small corrections at work? Stew and steam for awhile, longer than you should even be thinking about it… Had a shitty ride? Obsess over it. Plot, plan, scheme, whatever. I don’t think I should be necessarily feeling this way, but I am.
SAD-lights necessary? Quite possibly!
I had a good lesson yesterday actually. I was feeling a bit crabby (see above unreasonable responses to normal work situations) but I felt so hyper-focused in my lesson that it all kind of just…melted away… That’s not to say it was easy- it wasn’t- Oats tried to intimidate me out of asking what I was asking, but I didn’t let him, and we achieved some mini-breakthroughs. Phew!
I found this on the Chronicle of the Horse web forum, and it really resonated with me. I love jumping, riding, showing, etc. but it really takes it out of me. Sometimes it’s all I can do to show up! And this is something I LOVE!
A lot of amateurs spend a great deal of their riding time pushed to their limits. It is a great privilege and stroke of luck (which could be taken away by a bad fall) if you are able to canter around serenely well within your own comfort zone. Many more people spend a lot of time persevering and continuing to show up to the barn despite the fact that, a lot of time when they are on a horse, they are afraid. Sure, I get to come to the barn and not spend 90% of my lessons battling fear or anxiety, but this is not true for everyone. They are scared but they are DOING IT ANYWAY.
Half the time they would NEVER be doing what you are asking them to do of their own accord or without you there, but because they want to learn to ride worse than they are afraid they put essentially blind faith in you, rustle their brass ones together, and still try to do everything their brain is screaming at them to for the love of God not do. I feel the same way when one of my trainers put the jumps up two more and wider for the nth time, but because he is expert at pushing people to the limit but never over, the scope of my limits expand in his presence.
(Meanwhile, I feel the same way rarely, when the jumps have exceeded a certain size, and those moments serve to really reinforce my respect for people who feel that way most of the time, about stuff like ‘cantering’, and still want to ride worse than they are afraid. That takes BALLS and tremendous determination, and I am not sure I would continue with the sport if I had to always ride at my limit. So I really respect those who do. You cannot be brave if you are not afraid in the first place.)
It’s crazy. So why do we do it in the first place? Because when I’m feeling blah, having a blah day, feeling crabby and out of sorts…Going to the barn and having a super-focused ride that leaves me feeling cathartic is what I need the most. Even if I am on the edge of comfort (and over that edge) for most of it. I deal with fear a lot, and extreme performance anxiety- to the point where I let it take over for me and I’m drifting around on-course, or tuning out in a dressage ride.
I hope to be ‘more present’ jumping and riding. That’s all I can hope for sometimes!