Sandy Ponies and Renewing Rides

So maybe they aren’t ponies. But they are cute. And they were very sandy.

On a random note, I had someone tell me recently that they thought ponies were just “teenage” horses. I was pretty amused by that one.

Blessed with nice weather over spring break, I had the opportunity to go riding with friends on the beach again. If any of you are close to the region of Lewes, Delaware, Cape Henlopen State Park is a lovely place for beach riding, offering ocean-side and bay-side riding. If you plan it well enough to go out around low-tide, you can ride up and down over the sand bars on the bay-side and play in the shallow water. Just keep a careful eye on your horse, they may feel inclined to lay down in the water. I’ve had a couple close calls.

Today, I want to talk about riding as an “escape,” or a renewing experience. This directly relates to my experience as a college student, but anyone else who feels this way sometimes will be able to relate. 

When I traveled home for spring break, I was mentally exhausted and overwhelmed. Thoughts of graduation, the work I still have yet to do, and other worries consumed majority of my head space. Hey, college is a stressful experience. Rewarding, but stressful. When facing various concerns, you must learn how to handle them and remain peaceful, or they will take over and worry will paralyze you. 

At this time, I was beginning to let the worry debilitate me. My motivation to do anything was minimal, and I was frustrated with myself because that is not “me” typically. In a general sense, “adulting” was getting the best of me.

Even in my riding I was not feeling very excited, as my last few lessons had not gone well. One day over spring break, that worry and subsequent pain came to a head. I was an emotional human that day, which surprised me because, again, that is not the usual “me.” When I received a text message that night asking if I would like to tag along for an impromptu beach trail ride the next day, I couldn’t have been happier to have the distraction.

It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. From an internal and external perspective. For the first time in months, I was able to relax and revel in being on the back of a horse. I consciously made myself take in all of my surroundings, soak in all the warmth from the sun I could, and breathe so deeply that the salty air seemed to completely fill me. I cleared my mind the best I could and appreciated the simplicity of being out in nature. My ride for the day, appropriately named Splash, made it thoroughly enjoyable. Land, water, sun, and horses. Quiet. Laughs with friends here and there. The recipe for desperately needed rejuvenation. 

How often, in between work, school, and other responsibilities do we take the time to truly appreciate riding? To love what we are doing like we used to when we were little and didn’t have a care in the world? No cares, save for when our next riding lesson would be or which character from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron we would pretend to be at recess that day. Don’t act like you didn’t do that if you were a horse lover in my generation.

For some, horses and riding are passions, but also a career. If you catch yourself seeing barn time and riding as monotonous chores, remember everything you love about it. Remember what those things can do for you mentally when you are having a bad day. If horses are not your career, and may very well still be a passion, use your “horse time” as an escape from the often chaotic world. The ability that many of us have to go hug a horse when we are feeling down should not be taken for granted.

If you, at work, school, or elsewhere out in the big, adult world find yourself getting anxious or overwhelmed, take some time to go out and get some horse-induced and nature-induced endorphins. Bury your face in the fuzzy, warm neck of an equine companion and cry if you must. Go home with horse hair and spit on your clothes, dirt on your hands, cookies in your jacket pockets, mud on your boots, and a smile plastered on your face. Remember why you love this life and the horses that are a part of it.

Talk to you soon!