Burned Out on Horse Showing?

Follow these tips to rekindle your love for horse showing.

Follow these tips to rekindle your love for horse showing.

Journal photo.
If you are burnt out on horse showing, remember the reasons why you became interested in horses in the first place, this may spark you to remember why you love riding so much. Journal photo.

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 until riding 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!

AQHA Video

Check out this video of Jordan Boyd at the 2012 AQHYA World Show!

12 thoughts on “Burned Out on Horse Showing?”

  1. Here’s an idea AQHA, have the judges be fair and reward exhibitors with correct placings of sound horses versus lame ones pulling themselves along on their front end such as in the WP class.

    It gets old placing after horses who hitch their back legs and have to drag themselves forward. Having a good ride only works for so long on maintaining a positive attitude and willingness to keep competing after losing to the judges friends/clients weekend after weekend.

  2. I totally agree with Jolene. Start rewarding the exhibitors who show a broke, sound, happy horse that is presenting an overall picture instead of rewarding overall politics. That’s why I hate showing.

    I break, train, groom, school and show my own horses. I do all my own work and can’t beat it when someone comes up to me after a class I didn’t place well in and tells me I have a nice horse, but it doesn’t pay off.

    I do NOT want to be a horse trainer. I’ve worked with big trainers and the politics and abuse are not worth it.

    Stop rewarding the politics so the “burnouts” and new exhibitors will show up to show.

  3. I keep hearing the same theme over and over, quit placing the tropers, place horses that actually look like they are a job to ride, etc.

    My question is, will AQHA start to listen? I just competed in two versatility ranch horse shows. Nice to see horses that look like they could do something outside of the arena. And everyday people winning instead of just the trainers. Please don’t screw this event up by making it more “pretty”.

    AQHA, are you listening?

  4. We started a drill team!! Kids LOVE it! It has made them better riders and now several are placing and winning at local shows! Drill makes for better riders as well as gives both the rider and horse something different to think about!!

  5. I gave up showing several years ago. Tired of the politics, the unfair judging, the drama, the rich snobs who expect to win, the cost of showing, the bling which I can’t afford (let’s keep it simple and show off your horse’s ability to perform and not how flashy you can dress), the movement of the horse that is supposed to change but keep getting all the wins, the incentive rules (you know how hard it is to get a 1/2 point and not get paid for it??) AQHA won’t pay. Was told they don’t write a check for under $10. So all my hard work and my 1/2 point was literally for nothing! That was my breaking point. It’s a rich man’s game. Shall I continue?? I don’t have a trainer. Do all the work myself. It’s not how well you and your horse perform, it’s who your trainer is or how much money you have. Makes me disgusted. All my hard work never paid off. Thanks for letting me vent.

  6. My 10 year old daughter started showing around 2 years ago. We enjoy showing at local open shows, but no longer enter the AQHA classes for a variety of reasons. The Youth Novice classes are 18 and under. It is unrealistic to expect a child under 12 to have a chance at beating a 16-18 year old, even if they have been riding for the same amount of time. We have a foundation bred QH mare that we paid $$$$. She is short and stocky. She has nice movement, but her head is not low and her lope/canter is not slow. We cannot compete against the girls on $$$$$ leggy throughbred looking QH with that slow lope (that is slower than their walk!). My daughter gets very frustrated because she is training her own horse (with the assistance of her riding coach) and she sees little reward in the show ring when competing against riders whose trainers school the horses, warm them up for the kids, and all the child really does is hop on right before their class.

    But, with that said, we will continue to show because its a good “test” after all the hours of practice. We do our own placings of the class and let my daughter know how her coach would have placed her if she was judging…and that’s good enough for us.

  7. I am a recovering “burnout”. I used to show USEF HUS classes and the like back in junior and senior high but quit showing and riding because of the politics. I then apprenticed under an AQHA Professional Horseman out of Mississippi breaking horses. The breaking burned me out after many bad training accidents and I quit horses completely. My fiance (a former PRCA bull rider) has now gotten me back into horses and riding after buying me a very well bred registered AQHA mare that I plan to train to run barrels and then breed. I would like to have some points on her before I breed to prove (if to no one but myself) that she has the “it” factor to pass on to her offspring.

    I agree that all WP classes (especially AQHA and APHA) need to judge the horses as to the happy, healthy horses that are a PLEASURE to ride! Not the half track, haunches in, dragging their bodies behind them from the front legs only. The head in the dirt, over flexed horses look miserable, in pain and NO fun to ride. Whatever happened to true horsemanship instead of snatching your horses face when the rider doesn’t think the judge is looking, or jabbing the horse in the ribs with the spurs? I think the judging needs to be cleaned up to the proper aesthetics and less of the politics.

  8. I haven’t shown in years. A, I would never do that to a horse and B, I can’t afford the show gear expected. I’ve been waiting for the momentum to swing, but I’m running out of time. You see I’m going to be 65 next year. A plateau of sorts. So – I’ve decided I’m showing Ranch Horse next summer in new, sharply pleated jeans and an oxford shirt with scarf or necklace for accent. I’m tired of waiting for sanity to return to WP. Like it or lump it. I hope I’m not alone.

  9. I’m reading a recurring theme in these posts… The one thing I have done is start doing lower level Dressage tests with my foundation bred, dun colored Quarter Horse. Yes, I know I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Arizona of beating out some of those big warmbloods, but it’s such much nicer being in an arena where riders are allowed to let their horse have a more natural carriage of gait about themselves than the pleasure horse arena.

  10. Also, this stuff that AQHA and all of the other pleasure horse breed associations are calling equitation should probably be reconsidered. The more I’ve dug into Dressage tests, the more I have really learned what riding a pattern is all about. The more I see these broke down horses that these young riders are on, is the more I realize those “riders” are nothing more than passengers in high dollar bling clothing and tack.

  11. Hey, there’s nothing better than a day on the trail. Just leave the rest of it all behind! Spend some time in nature and enjoy your horse, the rest of it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

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