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Question of the Week: Where Did Our Love Go?

I love my horse, but I've lost all motivation to ride. Is this normal?

August 24, 2010

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Q: I am an older adult rider. Two years ago I finally bought my dream horse, a wonderful gelding. I had a lot of fun showing him and riding him on the trails. Recently, however, I have no motivation to ride, show or even go to the barn. It’s not a time or money issue, it’s more like riding has become a task. Is this normal? I don't know what to do!

Woman and Horse

A: Riders of all ages, but especially adults, are prone to creating an idealized vision of what it will be like to own a horse. All of the good aspects of horse ownership are captivating. Who doesn’t want a four-legged best friend? And what could be more invigorating than a glorious ride on a magnificent creature? But when reality sets in—the stress over health and soundness issues, the constant cost of the upkeep, and petty things like personality clashes at the barn—aren’t so glamorous. Be honest with yourself. Were you expecting too much from your relationship with your horse? Were you really prepared for the demands on your lifestyle? A more candid approach to horse ownership may help you realize that the good far outweighs the bad, and that your life benefits from your connection to your horse.

You might also try taking a break from showing. Though you have to be dedicated in order to succeed on the show circuit, the unending scrutiny of your position and your horse’s way of going can steal away some of the sweet, quiet moments we all treasure with our horses. However, if you’re competitive by nature, purely recreational riding might not hold your interest. But there are plenty of intriguing equestrian pursuits to investigate, from drill teams to mounted shooting, arena polo, team penning and extreme cowboy racing. Your current barn buddies may scoff at your burgeoning curiosity, but you might meet an entirely new group of horsey friends along your journey.

Ultimately, though, you have to do what’s best for your horse. If you feel like you can’t provide the attention he deserves, he needs a new caretaker. But don’t be in a rush to sell him. A dream horse only comes along once in a lifetime. Consider leasing him to another rider who would appreciate the opportunity to ride a nice horse while you contemplate all of your options.

--Cindy Hale

Liked this article? Here are others you'll enjoy:
Get Your Head Together
Overcoming Rider's Block
Rider Insider: Finding Motivation

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Reader Comments

sonja    Camano island, WA

4/5/2015 1:48:58 AM

I can relate. I live on camano island and we have 3 horses. One is my mare and the filly baby who is 6, and our retired gelding had me for 5 years. Then I got a job. Well now I work every weekend and they miss me. I work at the crack of dawn until 2pm and the time they get is turnout and nite turn in. On my days off all I want to is sleep. If I had a horse trailer I would be going on trail rides and poker rides. I had a horse trailer but had a very selfish ex husband who made me sell my first horse love all my tack and the trailer had been given to me. Also I live on someone else's property and we have no covered arena.

Kathryn    Payson, UT

4/4/2015 9:29:09 PM

Excellent question & answer!

Terri    Farson, WY

4/4/2015 10:50:56 AM

My daughter gave me a great incentive when I had that problem. She said to just go out for a 15 minute visit. Tell yourself that after 15 minutes, if you don't want to stay, you don't have to. So far, every visit has lasted more than 15 minutes and a lot of the times, I ride. :)

Alyssa    Battle Creek, MI

4/4/2015 8:59:25 AM

Is it only riding that you experience this lack of motivation with, or do you feel that way about other activities as well? If you find that it's not just the riding, there could be an underlying health problem draining your energy. Just something to think about.

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