No, I’m not talking about “balance” in the saddle, but rather the balance in life that allows us to enjoy our horses and our time in the saddle while still maintaining a sense of structure in our lives.
This idea came to me after a long day at the barn chatting with a close friend about life and horses, and how sometimes horses can “become” life. I have struggled with this myself on many occasions; finding myself spending a disproportionate time worrying about, thinking about and scheduling around my horses. We’re horse people, this is what we do, right?
Losing Sight of the Balance
The truth is that with anything we truly care about, there are times when we lose sight of the “balance” that allows us to live with all facets of our lives being full and happy. It’s tough, sometimes, to be out for a nice dinner with a loved one and feel the urge to have the cell phone handy just in case someone from the barn calls with a problem, or if a horsey friend calls who needs advice about how to deal with an emergent situation.
We’re just trying to be responsible; trying to make sure that we give the best care and attention to our horses as possible, but in doing this we can lose sight of the fact that the rest of our life also needs the same amount of care. So, what is there to do?
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Leave Barn Duties at the Barn
I have found that it is difficult for me to leave the barn sometimes, lest my horse get into trouble, or require me to do something to make her happy or comfortable. I project upon her the need for constant care, when in reality there comes a time when I just have to let go and know that I have done the best that I can to create a safe, happy and healthy environment. For me, learning to compartmentalize my time at the barn has been very helpful. I have a certain number of hours per day to spend with my horse, and this includes preparing her for the time that I will be away from the barn. I make sure her stall is safe, that she has had her supplements, that her slow feeding hay bag is full of nice grass hay, and that she has been groomed and blanketed.
One last check of her stall door to make sure it is securely locked, and it’s time to trust in myself that I have done everything I can to keep her safe and comfortable. When I leave the barn, I consciously tell myself that everything will be fine.
Step Away From the Barn
The time that I spend away from the barn is time I spend doing other things that require my energy. If I spend all of my time worrying about my horse, it’s the easiest way to burn myself out on the idea of riding and competing. Our horses are intricate parts of our lives, and it is natural to spend a lot of time in our heads thinking about them, but we also owe it to ourselves to step away from time to time and enjoy the many other aspects of life that are also rewarding.
So, the next time that you go out to the barn, put your all into your time with your horse. Enjoy every moment of saddle time, grooming time, the wonderful scents and feelings that abound when you are close to your companion. But when you leave the barn, don’t drag along that emotional tether that keeps you from focusing on the other things in your life that are equally as important. It’s all about balance, folks…in the saddle and out of it.
Story written and cover photo taken by Sarah Williams
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