Back in November I read a post on The Barb Wire that resonated with me. It was called Tempest. In it, Tamara talks about dealing with stress caused by lies and injustice. She concludes that she won’t ride until she feels better because she doesn’t want to ride when she’s so tense and upset.
“Ever tried working when a horse when your fuse is short?
It’s a bad idea. In fact, to the horse, it’s downright unjust. Confusing.
She doesn’t understand lies, my horse. Whatever I tell her with my body and tone, she takes as purest truth.
She has no concept of misdirected rage.
She doesn’t understand, “I’m sorry.”
So I’ll repair fence, or shovel manure, or fill the water troughs by hand. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and listen while the horses chew their hay. But I won’t ride. Not until I’m good and ready to do it right.”
I don’t know what’s happening in her life, but I can relate to the stress and injustice issue. I’m going through a situation now that makes me grind my teeth. I wake up in the morning with an ache in my jaw from dreaming about this. My family doesn’t want me around when I start to ruminate because my fuse has been wickedly short.
For me, riding (and actually almost any time at the barn) has been the only time when I do feel calm. When I ride I can focus on the moment, feel my horse breathe, react to his movement and forget my problems. It’s good therapy. Riding has always been like a meditation for me. It’s refreshing simply because I don’t let the outside world intrude upon my thoughts.
Now I agree with Tamara that when you are angry or frustrated you shouldn’t ride. Especially if you are angry at your horse. We’ve all had days when we feel we can’t ride or that our horses are hopeless. Years ago I had a trainer who always advised us that when we felt that way the best thing we could do for our horses is to either hack them in the wood on a long rein or get off and put them away. It’s advice that I still live by.
But I don’t know if I could have gotten through the past few weeks without horse therapy. It’s certainly a lot less expensive than the lawyer I had to hire today. Freedom should expect some company tomorrow. I’m hoping the footing is good enough for a nice long hack.
How about all of you? Do you ride when you’re upset? Cuddle with your horse? Or do you stay away?