Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stress-free riding

I'm back!

Ok, so technically I have been here the whole time but I just haven't been blogging. I just started my new job and this past Sunday, I moved into a place that is much closer to that job than my parents' house so...yay! It only took me a week to figure out why my laptop wouldn't connect to wi-fi!

I have had the idea for this post rattling around in my head though since the Tuesday before last, when our company unfortunately had to let go several employees for financial reasons. It was sad to see people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, and frightening--I had been thinking I was right on track with having a job right after graduation, but now I realize that in our uncertain economic climate, nothing is ever guaranteed. I still have my job--it would have been a waste of time for them to only hire me for two weeks, and I don't make enough money to be a real drain on their coffers--but nevertheless, it did shake me up.

Thankfully, I was able to go to the barn immediately after work, and the temperatures weren't as ridiculously high as they've been this week. But on the way there, I just didn't feel the relaxation I normally do on those winding country roads. I was tense,  my back was tight, and my body overall was mirroring my internal stress as I imagined the worst-case scenario of losing my job if things continued to go south. Would I move back home? Would I move in with my boyfriend? Would I get a temp job? Would I disregard my English degree and try to find a job with horses?

I knew that the horse I was going to ride, Shadow, would probably not react to my stress. I haven't talked about him on the blog before, but he is also a therapeutic riding horse who is so bombproof he's practically catatonic. The only times I've seen him halfway wake up are when he hears the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper and when we canter--he gets a bit disorganized and rushes, probably because it's easier for him to do that than actually give a nice canter. I'm lucky that I have access to a horse who isn't going to add to my worries (and I'll try to put up a picture of him for you soon!).

One of my riding mantras is "Relax...or ELSE." If you don't relax your body, then at best you'll have a disorganized, icky ride, and at worst you have a panicked horse running, bucking, and farting for its life.  For some reason the idea of forcing myself to "relax or else" works for me. So I decided to ride bareback. It's impossible to not follow the motion of the horse that way, and as soon as Shadow took his first swingy steps away from the mounting block, I was forced to let go of that tension in my back and just follow his motion to stay on. Of course, bareback is much more tiring than riding in a saddle, but that had a dual purpose as well--it forced me to use up that anxious energy, pretty similar to longeing an overexcited horse or taking a hyper dog for a run.

via Equestrian Memes
Anyway, I just wanted to share my way of forcing myself to relax...I know everyone might not think of it that way, but I'd love to hear if you have particular exercises you do when riding to release tension and stress.

1 comment:

  1. I find a good old fashioned hoon gets the kinks out for Show Pony and I. Otherwise, I spend a little more time doing peaceful stuff before I ride - like extra grooming or taking the young horse for a hand walk.
    If that doesn't work I ignore the horses completely and go pick out weeds in the paddock, complete with angry mumbling and frustrated hand flailing.