An interesting shift is happening in my relationship with horses. Just as I began to realize this, I came across The Non Ridden Equine Association UK and learned there is a chapter in Canada!
You see, riding has become much less of a priority for me in recent years and I have become quite enamored with the idea of caring for a non-ridden equine or two. While I suspect I will still want to ride on occasion, I have come to value my time out of the saddle much more and am eager to have a horse (or donkey or mule) of my own to groom, walk, sit quietly, or practice clicker and liberty training with.
And if I do decide to ride, I want to ride along trails with another person or in a group – which was always my favourite setting to ride in. I think that’s what has been missing for me in recent years. Riding alone in a corral feels unnatural to me, in an indoor arena, even more so! I grew up riding trails or outside in the corral year round with my mother, sister, and other borders at the barn. I have never been interested in learning a particular discipline or competing so I have a difficult time relating to that part of the horse world. I grew up riding “English” or “Western” depending on which horse I rode on a given day – my family had 3 horses, 2 English saddles and 1 Western.
The closest I got to this feeling was when I was taking group riding lessons a few years ago, outside rain or shine! It was a fantastic program! But I was lured away to a different stable by the intrigue of vaulting. I took a few lessons and loved it! I ended up leasing the vaulting horse but stopped vaulting after a handful of lessons. It was through spending time with that gentle giant, Fresco, that I realized riding simply wasn’t that important to me anymore. Of course, it took an injury and a doctor-advised break from riding for me to realize that.
Nonetheless, it’s where I’m at now, and this feeling is reinforced constantly through my current interests in Equine Studies, through studying topics related to equine anatomy, evolution, learning, training, behaviour, and welfare.
I’m as curious to see where I’ll be at with this feeling when I’m ready to adopt a horse of my own as I am to continue learning all I can about these magnificent beasts!