The Amateur Rut

I used to be able to gallop up to a 1.20m jump like it was a cross-rail. I was fearless. I would ride anything and everything, and I would ride all day without missing a beat. An hour in a jumping lesson was nothing. Riding two lessons in one day with no stirrups was nothing. I never got winded. I never stopped to think about “danger”, and I loved every ounce of this sport. I dreamed of becoming a professional. I knew I was going to be a trainer and have a lesson barn full of kids on ponies, killing it at all the big shows.

Then I aged out. I started going to college, and I began riding less. I moved on from my barn job in favor of a real job. I sold my jumper and let go of my catch ride. I began drinking more alcohol, and I got fatter and much more out of shape. I moved out of the area of my trainer and into a different state. I began riding on my own and attempting to train a horse with so many problems and no help. I began to hate riding, and I became disheartened. I have been in an amateur rut.

There comes a point in life when you have to look back at your accomplishments as a child and cut them away. They were great memories for me, but I kept holding myself to THAT standard. I kept telling myself “I should be able to canter three circles without getting winded! I should be able to ride anything without feeling scared! I should be able to jump a 2’6 vertical at a canter without wanting to vomit!” I have to cut that out of my head, because if I keep beating myself up, I will never get better. It is so hard not to be your own worst critique, but I found that videoing myself helps somewhat. I will have a ride or a jump that feels AWFUL, but I will watch the video and it actually wasn’t that bad. I watch the videos and try to help myself pick apart the small, easy things that I could change (example: shoulders back and not hunched). I watch videos, clinics, and tips of professionals and big name riders. Anything to give me the visual of correct!

I have also began trying to eat healthier (but I cheat), drink less, and exercise more. I can’t go to any workout classes because of time, but I can do some core exercises and beginners yoga in my room. It’s easy enough to take 30 minutes out of my day to try and make a little progress, even if it means going to bed later or not getting a between work and school nap. Finally, I need to maximize ride time. If I don’t get to canter because I feel tired, I need to do more exercises during my hacks to help both of us. Once I can perform better, CW can also perform better. BioRider Fitness has some great tips and training packages! I highly suggest checking them out.

I am not out of my rut, however I am working hard to overcome the negativity I put myself through. It’s hard when you can only get to the barn twice a week or so, but I have a will and there is a way. I just have to make myself work hard and not overthink what I do. I need to channel my inner child and move soft with my horse. The elusive soft, forward seat will come back to me one day. Until then, I will work hard and retrain my body to think like the “young me”, and I won’t dwell on my past accomplishments as a security blanket for bad riding.


One thought on “The Amateur Rut

  1. I remember when 1.15-1.20m was nothing… Now, I almost pee myself walking in the ring for the 3’3″ A/O hunters. Ugh. I just have to laugh at myself and my new found ammy struggles and roll with the punches. I’ve started to get friendly with the ladies in my division, and swapping stories with them about our “amateur moments” has helped me realize that I’m not alone! And similar to you, taking care of myself during the week makes my limited rides that much more effective!


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