Don't Let Your Hurdles Stop You From Riding


I think it’s fair to say that at times we’ve all had something pop into our lives that hindered, or at least challenged, our riding success. Family, work, free-time, health, money, weather…and these are just a few examples. I’m sure you can add more to this list.

Bottom line is, riding should be fun. That sounds so simple and I am sure everyone begins their riding career with that thought. In the beginning, we may not realize how challenging a 1000b animal can be to work with. We may have set really lofty goals only to be discouraged when those goals aren’t instantly met. I think it’s fair to say that young and old riders really want to win the prize! Fancy belt buckles and saddles, pay outs and ribbons, they all feel pretty good.

Whenever I am questioning the level of my success, whenever I wonder if I have achieved enough in my horse career, I remember what is important. Riding should be fun. You know what makes riding fun for me? Can you guess what makes me feel great at the end of the day? It is helping my riders tackle their hurdles and reach their goals. The joy it brings me is better than all the ribbons in the world.

I have a student who is battling cancer. I didn’t know this until some time into his lesson program. One night he roughly dismounted (well, almost fell) off his horse. It wasn’t a bad crash, just a sloppy dismount where his leg buckled under him. This happens to students sometimes. But, this time I could tell it was different. After his embarrassing fall, he took me aside and gave me the “I know you are a nurse and I should probably tell you” discussion. He caught me up on his medical past and what he’s going through. He told me that although the next year would be tough, riding was important to him and he wasn’t going to give it up. I was so glad that he was able to share his story with me. I cherish that moment because it is what inspires me to do what I do.

I open the door to riding horses for many people. What goals they set for themselves and what they ultimately achieve are as important and individual as each of my riders. The journey can have it’s ups and downs, but in the end it should always be fun. This student reminded me that every rider’s goals are unique, big or small, and it doesn’t always mean winning buckles, money or ribbons.

Last night we were tacking up for a ranch sorting practice. I was really happy to see this student arrive and told him that his favorite horse was available for the night. He went out to the pasture with a halter and lead rope, caught the horse, and tied it up to the hitching post. Seeing he had caught the wrong horse, I walked over to him and thanked him with a smile for catching my horse. What the heck, bay…sorrel…they all look the same sometimes, right? He seemed frustrated by this mix-up so I offered to go get the other horse. He quickly replied, “No, I made the mistake. I’ll pay the price.” While we were alone he shared that he was having a “rough” day. He felt like his brain was not sharp and he was having difficulty sorting out details. Inside I was so happy that he would be on the horse he loves, it was going to be a challenging night. Tonight he had lots of life “hurdles” and would not need any more challenge.