Dear Rider returning to riding,
You remember how riding used to be. It was effortless, you thought you knew it all. Then you left the sport. You stopped riding. Maybe it was an illness, maybe you lost the drive or the means to support your riding habit. Now you find yourself returning to riding once more, eagerly looking forward to picking up where you left off.
I rode for years, until suddenly, I didn’t. A broke horseless college grad working retail has little money for riding lessons. Then life happens. I was there, until horses came back into my life. My first riding lesson in years, I was excited and eager to return to where I was. I left my lesson disappointed and remembering the rider I once was, and frustrated at the beginner who could barely sit the trot I was now.
Several lessons later I found myself slowly regaining some of my lost skills. My body started to remember. I still haven’t completely regained my skills, and I brace myself for another set back through the next 3 years of no riding, where I will loose what progress I have made. I must still remind myself of these tidbits of advice. I hope, dear Rider, that this advice helps you too. Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up.
Be Kind To Yourself
Your expectations will probably not meet your reality. Accept that time has passed, you have lost your muscle memory and maybe even the fitness you once had. Where you once cantered around the ring neat as you please, now you find yourself struggling with at the trot. This is okay. You will learn, you will practice, you will improve. Do not be discouraged, do not be too hard on yourself. You are not who you once were, do not judge yourself by those standards. You may not have the skills you once did, but that doesn’t mean you never will.
Accept Where You Are Now
Do not push yourself beyond your limits. Your skills will return, they just need time and a little practice. Do not rush yourself. Accept the journey and learn the basics needed to move forward once more. You will return to the place you once were in time, and with more knowledge and experience this time around. Don’t hurry yourself or your horse.
Release the Past
You may have been able to jump 2 meters before, but now you are back to cross rails. That is okay. Remember your past fondly, but don’t judge your present by it. You have changed, you are not the same person you were, you may not even be riding the same horse you were before. Learn from your new partner, learn from your present and be open to where it takes you. Don’t hold yourself accountable to your past. You will reach those milestones again with time and practice.
Trust Your Body
It will remember. It just takes some time. What was once automatic now needs reminding. With practice comes a reawakening of what you once knew. Your body will remember. It will feel the once familiar motions of your horse’s movements and slowly but surely you will find yourself becoming more sure of your riding.