By Rob Jacobs
Spring is here! Most of us have “hunkered down” for the winter months. Those who flew south are now making their way back north. Many transitions happen this time of the year. My last column was on developing healthy friendships with those who share your equestrian passion. This month I would like to discuss a variety of transitions that many of our kids may be facing this time of the year.
Some of the most common transitions may involve moving to a different farm/location. Some professionals change locations depending on their current arrangement and restrictions they’re faced with. It’s also possible a rider will remain at the same location but change trainers. This may be due to their skill level increasing and they are ready to move to the lesson schedule of the more senior trainer. Or this may be because they ride at an equestrian complex where several professionals run their businesses, and although a barn change has occurred, that rider may not necessarily change riding facilities.
Other transitions may include a horse change. It’s not uncommon for riders to lease a horse for the winter circuit or even to sell their current horse at the end of the winter show circuit. In cases like these, riders would work with their trainer to find the next suitable horse. Another transition that we all fear is the unfortunate passing of our horse. This, in my opinion, is the most difficult to process.
There are so many different ways transitions may occur. I have only listed a few of the most common. All are challenging and a part of what makes perseverance a requirement for this sport. I view perseverance as one’s ability to navigate and work through something that is proving to be a challenge. The equestrian sport gives us an opportunity to practice navigating a variety of issues. There are many important life skills to be learned and relearned when working with horses and the people who are involved with them.
From a very early age, or even for a person new to the sport, everyone experiences transition. I can remember how intimidating it was to progress to the more senior instructor at the local farm I grew up riding at. The beginner instructor was so kind, patient and gentle. Although the more senior instructor had those same qualities, she had a more direct teaching style. The transition was not easy, but with some time I learned how beneficial that style was to my rate of progression. As I later reflect on this period of time, I think of how fortunate I am to have had an opportunity at a young age to deal with such healthy challenges within the sport. Many years and many challenges later, I’m thankful for having the chance to work through things in hopes of moving forward.
We all experience transition, both in life and within the sport. Some advice to the young equestrians is to always remember why you originally chose to get involved in equestrian sport. As I go through seasonal changes that may prove to be difficult, I think back to the joy I experienced when I conquered my fear as a child and decided I would take regular lessons and learn how to ride an animal as majestic and beautiful as the horse.
Another piece of advice I have to offer is to remain calm, process the change slowly, and to listen to what your instincts are saying to you. When experiencing a challenging transition, our emotions may convince us to act quickly and inaccurately. It’s important to take the needed time to assess how you feel about the transition and understand why you feel that way. Also, I would encourage you to talk openly with your parents/guardian as well as your trainer. Having open conversations will not only help you process your own feelings, but it will hopefully allow you to receive some wise feedback. I hope this month’s column has been helpful and given you comfort knowing you’re not the only one in a transition. Remember, there is growth in every transition.
Photo by Heidi Bee Photography