Minding The Rider’s Body And Mind

Serious riders, particularly those of us riding either older horses or horses we hope to get to a Big Level and then enjoy at that level for many years, spend a lot of time thinking about the fine balance between working our horses hard enough to achieve fitness and strength to minimize the risk of injury and not working them so hard that they get hurt along the way. And all of us, at every level, should spend some time thinking about keeping our horses’ minds fresh so they enjoy the work and can approach it with focus and energy without fizzling out.

But as a professional rider, I stink at those two balancing acts for myself. I, and so many of my professional rider friends, will push through the pain of injury because we have to keep going, or are too stubborn/poor/busy to address problems when they’re small. I know I should be doing things like yoga and stretching to keep my back limber, but that would require slowing my mind for five minutes, which is something I have such a terribly hard time doing. And along those lines, the constant fear of any self-employed person is where the next paycheck is going to come from, so I hustle to the point of exhaustion and am maybe operating at par when it comes to taking time to do fun things and have a life outside of the barn, but I’m certainly not exceeding the norm.

I spent my 20s working myself to the bone, ignoring aches and pains, and having a  crappy work-life balance. It took a combination of things—the incredible personal and professional disasters of 2017 and 2018, and this recent back scare—to get me thinking about taking care of myself, both in mind and body. To say that I’m the poster girl for self-care would be a grand overstatement, as I still think that a) resting, and b) feeling my feelings, are both stupid, and I don’t have time for that nonsense. But I’m getting at least a little bit better at it. Here are a few of the things in my tool kit.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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