If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a recent slew of horse photos (and maybe a video or two). That’s because I’ve once again returned to my roots as an equestrian. And while I still love being at the barn and spending time in the saddle, I’ve learned an important lesson about returning to a beloved hobby as an adult.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I spent all my time at the barn. After school, over weekends, and sometimes even in the early morning hours before school. I went to horse shows, watched my trainer train other students, and rode as many different tempered horses as possible. I took lessons with other trainers, rode in different disciplines like equitation, jumpers, and dressage, and tried to be the most well-rounded horsewoman I could be.
But as a young competitive equestrian, there was one thing missing: fear. Returning to the sport as a 35-year-old with multiple ailments is a different scenario. The first time I was asked to ride two horses in a day, I thought, “Can I still do that?” Followed by, “How much pain will I be in after?” Back in my “younger” days, there were times when I rode upwards of five horses in a day, sometimes even 10. Now I ask questions like, “When was the horse ridden last?” I find myself watching a horse’s behavior on the ground and with other horses, all to prevent a potential accident or injury (for horse or rider). Basically, I’m more cautious now than I once was in the days when falling off a horse seemed to come with fewer consequences.
I guess the old adage about not being able to go home again may be true. While I still love the sport and the environment, my life is different from when I was a carefree equestrian focusing all my time on school and horses. Now there’s work, health, caregiving commitments, and other basic adulting chores I’m tasked with. There seems to be less “free time” to hang out at the barn all day. Knowing I need to carve out the time makes it feel even more special. I schedule my barn time on my Google calendar just like I would for a meeting. If there is anything I’ve learned recently, it’s that self-care time is just as important as everything else that has to get done.
As I navigate being an equestrian as an adult, I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to return to the sport that I loved so much. And while I note the differences, it feels good to have this hobby in my life in some capacity—even if time is more limited than it once was.
Have you ever returned to a hobby at a different phase of life?
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