SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: Life Lessons From Riding

Being around horses is one of those experiences that always offers something to learn — even if you spend every day doing it. SmartPaker Ellen Brunelle discusses how some of those lessons have translated into her adult life. Read on for more:

By SmartPaker Ellen Brunelle

Photo courtesy of SmartPaker Ellen Brunelle

I’ve been lucky enough to have been a rider and horse owner for more years of my life than I haven’t — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s always something to learn about riding, our horses, and ourselves. Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned from my experiences with horses that have translated over into my adult life and have helped me be a better person.

There is always something to learn. One of the many things I love about riding is that you never truly get to the point of knowing absolutely everything. There’s always something to learn. There’s always a question to ask, a movement to master, or a bond to strengthen with your horse. There’s always a lesson or clinic to watch, or tack room chatter to teach you new skills. I love knowing the learning is never done and that there are always new things to absorb and digest.

Be flexible and patient. As we all know, things rarely go exactly to plan with horses. Sometimes a ride just doesn’t go quite right—perhaps your horse wasn’t quite feeling his best, or maybe it would have been better to go for a trail ride that day. Keeping an open, patient, and flexible mind tends to yield the best rides. Perhaps that trail ride wasn’t planned, but it ended up being a wonderful, relaxing experience connecting with your horse that would have otherwise been missed. Always having that patience and flexibility will help create the best memories.

Perfection doesn’t exist—and that’s a good thing! I am self-admittedly very much of a perfectionist. That perfect jump round, dressage test, or flat ride; they just doesn’t quite exist, and that’s OK. Every ride has great moments, moments for improvement, and moments that may have just been downright messy. Our horses are our partners; they have their own opinions and their own strengths and weaknesses. I find that focusing on building a partnership rather than perfection yields the happiest, most productive rides.

Photo courtesy of SmartPaker Ellen Brunelle

Make time for fun. Riders, by nature, tend to be very goal oriented. Maybe you’re working on mastering a dressage test, finding the perfect approach to that rollback, or striving to nail that perfect trail pattern. While these are all great goals to work on, I’ve found that keeping myself honest and making a concentrated effort to always make time for fun keeps me and my horse happy. Sometimes that Friday afternoon ride just needs to be hopping on bareback and going for a lovely sunset trail ride or taking that last gallop loop around a field just to make you and your horse take a deep breath and smile. Those little things make all the difference over many years of riding and always help me stay balanced.

These are my favorite things that I’ve learned over the years of being a rider and horse owner, and I find myself regularly applying them to my daily life. They help across multiple areas of life, and of course, help me stay connected to my horse and smiling in the saddle.

You can find this and more on the SmartPak blog

Happy Monday, Horse Nation. Go riding!