In my last post, I touched on this just a little. But I’d like to dive a little deeper. I am a very goal oriented person (shocking, I know) and I tend to get super focused on the training aspect of riding. That may be partly due to the fact that in the past, I’ve almost exclusively ridden as a “trainer.” Not as a pro per se, but I’ve always ridden sale horses or horses that needed some issue fixed, and I’ve rarely had a horse that was mine to do whatever I wanted with. Of course I ride because it’s fun and I love it, but I don’t usually get to do things just because they’re fun.
I’m getting better at that though. Yes, most of the time, we should have the horse in mind and think about what is best from a training stand-point, but when it’s your own horse, there is less pressure to always make the smart choice. Yeah my horse was fabulous in our last lesson and jumped the oxer at 4′ great. Did we need to put the jump up another hole in order for him to get what he needed out of the grid? Definitely not. But it also wasn’t going to hurt, and I wanted to do it, so with my trainer’s blessing, up a hole it went.
And everything was OK.
Some days, it’s really hot, and I have no motivation to pull out tack and actually do anything hard with my horse. If Val was still a horse I was riding for someone else, I would buck up and do it anyway. But he’s my horse. So sometimes, I hop on bareback, and we putter around. I still work on lateral work, but the pressure is mostly off and we just have a good time. Do we have major training breakthroughs on those days? No, not usually. But we do have a nice ride that leaves both of us happy and relaxed, and I get to spend some quality time with my boy. And I’m starting to find that those days are just as important as the days where we put in the work to improve our flat work or our course work or what have you.
Sometimes, we even do something as silly as galloping across a field, just because we can. It pretty much undoes my horse for the rest of our ride, and it definitely doesn’t teach him anything super useful (for our purposes at least). But every now and again, I just like to go fast and let my horse really open up. And that’s ok too, because we’ve got the time to go back and fix it in the next ride if it turns him into a run away (definitely an exaggeration, all you really have to do is sit up to stop this horse). Since I’m the only one riding him, I don’t have to keep him ready to be tried by a buyer at any point in time.
Are you more of work work work all the time rider, or do you occasionally do things just because they’re fun, even if there is not particular reason to do so from a training stand point?