The Therapeutic Value of the Routines of Riding
When the rest of life is stressing me out, being at the barn is like going to my own private fluffy cloud of peace and quiet away from everything else.
I needed a trip to the cloud on Monday. And even though there's still snow and slush everywhere, and any riding is limited to walk-only, there is a value in going through the rituals of riding as if I were going to do a full-fledged school or lesson.
Groom thoroughly. Curry, stiff brush, finishing brush, comb out the tail. Pick out hooves and brush off the mud. We're not going anywhere anytime soon, but I trimmed up Dino's chin, whiskers, ears, and bridle path. Because looking like we're a real, serious team somehow makes me feel better.
Tack up completely. Adjust saddle pads just so. Put on spurs, gloves, chaps. Pick up a whip. Make sure browbands and nosebands are straight and mane is tamed. Maybe it's not "worth it" to go through the trouble for "just" a 30 minute walk, but the process is soothing.
After the ride, careful untacking and grooming. Brush out marks from saddle and girth, stuff pony with treats, tell him he's a good buddy.
Clean tack. There is something so, so good about the process of cleaning tack. I can do it almost on auto-pilot, and the end result is beautiful and satisfying.
At the end of all this, I've spent about two hours drinking in the peace of the barn and the comfort of my riding routine, and it's one of the most grounding, calming parts of my day. There's nothing else like it.