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Trains of thought

The annual competitive equestrian season almost seems to have an energy all of its own-it is almost like a train that doesn’t cease until it reaches its end destination. From January until November, life is planned around the brief station stops that make up the show calendar. You can board and disembark whenever you like, but nothing derails the train. Nothing, that is, except a global pandemic.

It is safe to say that covid has affected everyone and everything. Whilst professionals and producers have-for the most part-been able to keep going, it has been more of a struggle for the amateurs, the private producers, the hobby riders and the youth divisions. The periodic disruptions of the past eighteen months often made it difficult to plan and prepare for competition, and for quite a lot of folk, their usual forward momentum was significantly impeded.

As a result, many people seem to be finding it difficult to get ‘back on track’, now that restrictions have been eased. For some, their usual motivation has rather unnervingly deserted them. Whilst horses and horse shows do not define a person’s character, the loss of inclination towards same can bring up feelings of discomfort and incongruence. If you are someone who has been a regular on the train for many years, you perhaps partly do subconsciously identify as a passenger on the train. If you then find yourself looking at the train and feeling like you don’t much want to board it, what does that mean for you? Are you fed up with trains? Does missing some of the stations mean that the journey is not quite as fulfilling now as it once was? Do you need to miss the train this time, and get ready for the next great January departure? Or have you spent so much time on this train, that you hadn’t given much thought to the train-until there was no train anymore? How can you reclaim your desire to get back on the goddamn train?

Enough with the trains already.

In absolute truth, I don’t have any magic solutions. I think how a person feels is individual to that person, and so the onus should be on each of us who are struggling, to conduct a sort of ‘life audit’.

Some useful things to mull over might include-

  • What is it about horses and competing that you really love?

  • What has changed for you over the last eighteen months?

  • Do you still have the same resources available to you?

  • Are there now other people, things or interests in your life that are a priority?

  • Do you need to take a break and step away for a while, or are horses and/or competing something that brings much needed head space and enjoyment?

  • What would it need to look like now, to provoke your interest or enthusiasm?

  • Can you change the plan, or can you make it more manageable for a while?

If motivation has truly deserted you, could you allow yourself to consider being ok about it for a while? Horses are always there-if you take a break, you can go back at any time. Not every opportunity follows this same template, and we only have one life. Sometimes, being patient with yourself and allowing life to happen organically, can open doors and avenues you might never have dreamed possible before. Other times, a little space and time can bring the desire and the motivation for your sport back stronger than ever, with better clarity and vision.

Life happens to us all, and if we are lucky, we get to stay around for a while. Make the most of it! Be kind to yourself-and to others-and listen honestly to yourself. You’ll work it all out.

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