I feel like this old saying is tried and true no matter the situation. For years I use to feel like I “had” to ride a certain number of times per week. I felt like I had to practice, Eli had to get exercise and we had to keep going. When I was showing heavily I would really plan my riding schedule around the show. Eli would probably be off the day before we left, but the days before that were spent really riding. I was very strict about the schedule. The last year that I showed, I realized that one ride really didn’t make that much of a difference. Eli was going through quite a bit of hoof problems and I would be really stressed if I couldn’t ride exactly as planned prior to a show. Suddenly it clicked and I woke up. One ride does NOT make that much of a difference. It doesn’t really impact how I will do at the show. I’m ready or I’m not. End of story.
I don’t know how well I learned that lesson. I’m trying to keep that in mind. Recently I’ve decided that for my own mental health I need some days away from the barn. I need days where I don’t go out there at all! SHOCK! I know right? It’s been working well, as I’ve been fitting in more time at the gym and just in general avoiding stupid barn drama. I think it’s really helped my mental state. I feel less “burned out” about riding. I think Eli probably likes it to. He sure as hell doesn’t want to deal with me when I’m annoyed and stressed.
Last night I should have listened to my gut. The plan was to ride last night and not tonight as I have a massage after work. I got annoyed with stupid barn shit about 10 mins after I got there. I felt my aggravation rise. Part of me just wanted to leave and go home. The “old” me popped up and the voice in my head said “but Eli is going to have tomorrow off, you have to ride today”. So I sucked it up and started tacking up. Eli started off stiff, giraffe-like and uncooperative. He was turned out yesterday and the previous two days he was in. Did that contribute to it? Maybe. The previous two days he was willing, supple and bending. Not last night. Maybe it was a result of what was going in my brain. About 5 mins into the ride I wanted to get off. Then the old me popped up and said “but you are teaching him that if he doesn’t cooperate the ride is over.” Really? He’s 15 years old. Would he really think that after one lame ride? I doubt it. I kept riding because, well hell, I had spent the time to groom and tack so I might as well try to make this worthwhile. Eli remained giraffe-like, which is usually the problem that I prefer to fix, as opposed to below the bit. Last night however, I just didn’t want to deal. I tried. We had good moments. We actually cantered once around the ring COMPLELETY (!!!) in both directions. However he was very strong and not set back on his butt like he needs to be. I was focusing on pushing the canter with my seat. So maybe we learned something? Maybe not.
If I had to do it over I would have followed my gut and not ridden. After all I really believe that quality vs. quantity can be applied to the training path. Last night all I did was check a box: I rode Wednesday. That’s it. It wasn’t quality. It did nothing for us. It would have been better for him to have two days off and ride on Friday. Would that have hurt? No! Would he have loss fitness? NO! I need to remember the lesson I thought I learned years go. One ride doesn’t make that much of an impact on the overall training scale. One lesson sure as hell might! But one ride, on my own, with no one helping me when I’m in a pissed off mood sure as hell doesn’t do much. Certainly not anything positive.