Mentally check all the boxes that apply.
- Are you lacking the joy/excitement you once felt when riding?
- Do you find yourself feeling bored at your lesson?
- Is your horse less than enthused during your ride?
- Do you feel like every ride is a “bad ride”?
- Do you feel frustrated with “no progress”?
- Do you feel impatient with your horse?
- Do you find yourself making excuses not to ride?
If you checked more than one box, you may be suffering from burn-out. Exhausting all of your efforts, in an attempt to accomplish a goal stresses us out and burn-out sets in. To overcome your burn-out or even your equine partner’s burn-out, think about why you’re feeling the way you do. Is it the money? The lack of results? The monotony of doing the same thing over and over? From there you need to take steps to improve the problem and change what’s no longer working.
If it’s doing the same thing over and over that’s caused you to burn-out. Try switching up your lesson time. Moving a lesson from a late afternoon to an early morning can jump start your day. Maybe that early morning commute to the barn is stressing you out, you’re thinking about all the things you need to get done at home or the “extra” sleep you could have gotten, moving your lesson to later in the day alleviates those feelings.
Another option to break up the monotony is to ride at a new arena or go out on the trail. “Show Kerry” has two articles about trail riding destinations. A simple change in the color of panels or arena walls can give your mind and your horse’s a boost. Going on a trail ride is great way to engage your horses mind and body. He might just decide that scary corner of the arena is not so scary after he has to cross some deadfall or a stream.
Don’t have close access to a trail? Teach your horse a new skill or refresh old skills, cross a tarp, sack him out, drag an object or pick up the “scary yellow slicker”. Even the old tried and true show horse can benefit from ground work. Now days we are so focused on one discipline or class that we lose the focus of making a “true” all-around horse, one who is willing to do what we ask simply because we ask.
I’ve heard countless times “My horse can’t do that because ______” or “He’s a barrel horse, he doesn’t need to do that”. Your horse doesn’t need to become an expert but frequently engaging his brain and asking him to use his skills in a new way will keep him sharp and maintain the willing partner you fell in love with.
Take a break. Turn your horse out to pasture for a week or a few months. Use that time to organize your equipment, clean your trailer or take a non-horse related vacation. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Switch it up. Take a lesson from a trainer outside your normal discipline. Normally run barrels? Try a jumping lesson. The same eight reining maneuvers got you bored? Find a dressage trainer. Whether you choose to take your own horse or use a lesson horse, you will gain a new perspective. Skills will cross over and you’ll appreciate your own horse and your discipline more.
If you have any tips for fighting burn-out be sure to share them on social media with #kimesranch.