Burned Out on Horse Showing?

Follow these tips to rekindle your love for horse showing.

From America's Horse

Everyone has heard of star athletes and high-powered business people suffering from burnout – they appear to suddenly give up a sport or career to which they dedicated years of their lives. The feelings of success derived from awards, accolades and social recognition are slowly replaced by disinterest and lack of motivation.

You might experience similar feelings of apathy as you head for the barn. The enthusiasm that used to find you horseback at any free moment loses momentum untilriding becomes a chore. If you see yourself in this position, you can do something about it.

If you're looking to get started in competition or are looking for a way to be rewarded for all your hard work riding, be sure to join the American Quarter Horse Association. AQHA is a great way to get started in the show ring or get started in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program and be honored for all your hours in the saddle. Join today!

Burnout strikes high achievers with a passion for their activity. Horsemen who train hard, work hard and are highly driven can push themselves too far and lose interest in an activity they were once deeply devoted to, giving up all the progress they’ve made.

How do you know if you’re about to crash and burn?

Causes of burnout vary, but usually boil down to physical, mental and/or emotional exhaustion.

Have you been overdoing it? Constantly pushing yourself for long periods, trying to do too much and focusing on perfection can lead to an apathetic attitude toward riding.

Do the rewards no longer outweigh the costs? Changing into riding clothes and boots seems like a major hassle. Lessons seem futile. That buckle you won doesn’t seem to equal the hours you put in, or you simply aren’t getting much enjoyment out of riding.

As an American Quarter Horse Association member, you'll receive benefits and discounts that will work with you and your American Quarter Horses. Whether you're interested in learning more about AQHA shows, trail riding or are just looking for a trainer, your membership will be able to help you in all of these areas.

Have you hit a wall? Your horse or trainer can’t take you to the next level of competition?

The important thing to remember: If you’re burned out, there has to have been a fire for horses in your past. Look back at what sparked your interest in the first place. Was it a childhood dream that you pursued as an adult? Have horses been a part of your life since you can remember? Did the social aspects draw you into the horse world? Examining why you got involved in the first place might remind you of why you truly love riding and get you back to that original state of mind.

If you feel yourself losing interest, it is important to avoid further burnout. Try mixing up your routine. Rotate technique-improving sessions with more enjoyable activities. Some ideas:

    • Spend more time doing fun activities with your horse and only a couple of days a week schooling your horse.
    • Try new activities with your horse; if you usually ride in an arena, trail ride or work him in a large pasture. It’s a good distraction for both of you.
    • When you go to a competition, set other goals besides giving your ultimate performance. Make it your goal to meet new people and have fun, or try a new class, rather than focusing on winning.
    • Re-evaluate your goals. Are they attainable without over-stressing yourself?
    • Set new goals, even if it’s as simple as attending a riding clinic.
    • If you’ve never competed, try it. Competition will give you new goals.
    • Take lessons. If you never have, they will give you new things to work on. If you already take lessons, add another instructor that will offer new viewpoints.

Already burned out? There are things you can do to get back into the barn.

    • You may need to step away from horses for a while. If you take a break, you can return with a new fire, new goals and a refreshed outlook. Time away may force you to realize that you need and miss your time horseback, and allow you to approach your activity differently.
    • Change directions completely. If you only ride western, learn to ride English or vice versa, or learn to rope. This allows you to continue spending time with horses, but in a new way that will improve and broaden your skills as a horseman.
    • Become a cheerleader for a novice who has the passion you once did. Seeing that fire could rekindle your own fire for horses.

The American Quarter Horse Association offers three types of memberships: general, amateur and youth, so there is something for everyone. One of these three memberships is sure to fit your needs, so join today!

AQHA Member Benefit Spotlight

With an American Quarter Horse Association membership, you'll receive great discounts from many of AQHA's partners. AQHA members are eligible to receive Preferred Pricing on products from OfficeMax including general supplies, furniture, custom printing and special orders. Whether you own a small business or a multinational corporation, with AQHA you are eligible for great savings!