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Hanging Up My Hat: Why I’ve Chosen To Quit Horse Riding


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Alexine Caraway



For as long as I can remember, horse riding has been a passion of mine. From the moment I first mounted a horse, I was enchanted by the grace, power, and connection that comes from being in the saddle. Over the years, I have dedicated countless hours to honing my skills, competing in events, and immersing myself in the equestrian world.


However, despite my deep love for horse riding, I have made the difficult decision to hang up my hat and walk away from this beloved sport. This choice did not come easily or without careful consideration. It is a decision that has been shaped by a combination of factors, including physical and mental tolls, financial considerations, and shifting priorities.


In this article, I will share the journey that led me to this decision and the thought process behind it. While it is not an easy choice to leave behind something that has been such a significant part of my life, I believe it is important to be honest about the challenges and sacrifices that come with any passionate pursuit.


Join me as I reflect on my horse riding journey, the highs and lows, and ultimately the reasons why I have chosen to step away from this chapter of my life.


Early passion for horse riding

From a young age, I was drawn to horses. I would eagerly watch movies and read books about these majestic creatures, dreaming of the day when I could experience the thrill of riding one myself. Finally, at the age of 10, my parents surprised me with my first riding lesson, and my love affair with horse riding began.


Those early days were filled with excitement and wonder. I would eagerly arrive at the stables, eagerly donning my riding gear and eagerly anticipating the moment I would mount my trusty steed. The bond that developed between me and these powerful animals was undeniable. I felt a sense of freedom and liberation as we galloped through open fields, the wind whipping through my hair and the rhythmic bounce of the horse beneath me.


As I grew older, my passion for horse riding only intensified. I started taking lessons more frequently, immersing myself in the world of equestrianism. I would spend hours grooming and caring for the horses, relishing in the connection that came from these daily interactions. It wasn’t just about the thrill of riding; it was a holistic experience that incorporated the physical, emotional, and even spiritual aspects of being with horses.


Competitions soon became a regular part of my journey. The rush of adrenaline as I entered the arena, the determination to perform my best, and the sense of accomplishment when I received a ribbon or trophy were all driving factors. Horse riding taught me discipline, perseverance, and the value of hard work. It became a defining part of my identity, shaping my character and providing a sense of purpose.


But amidst the joy and exhilaration, I began to notice the toll that horse riding was taking on my body. Riding for extended periods of time led to various aches and pains. Falls and injuries became a regular occurrence, each one serving as a reminder of the inherent risks involved in this sport. While I was willing to push through the physical discomfort for the sake of my passion, I couldn’t ignore the toll it was taking on my overall well-being.


Despite these challenges, my early passion for horse riding remained unwavering. It was a love affair that consumed my thoughts, dreams, and aspirations. However, as time went on, this passion would face its own set of challenges that would ultimately lead me to reevaluate my commitment to the sport.


Growing disillusionment

As the years went by and my experience in the world of horse riding deepened, I began to experience a growing sense of disillusionment. The idealized image I had once held started to crack, revealing the harsh realities of the equestrian world. Behind the scenes, there were issues and practices that didn’t align with my values and ethics.


I witnessed instances of horse mistreatment, where animals were pushed beyond their limits for the sake of competition. The emphasis on winning at all costs seemed to overshadow the welfare of the horses. I couldn’t fully reconcile this treatment with my deep love and respect for these animals. It became increasingly difficult to ignore the inhumane practices that were prevalent within the industry.


Moreover, the competitive nature of horse riding began to take a toll on my mental well-being. The pressure to constantly outperform myself and others became overwhelming. It felt as if my self-worth was intrinsically tied to my performance in the arena. Rather than enjoying the process and the bond with my horse, I became consumed by the need for validation through accolades and achievements.


The equestrian world can also be an incredibly elitist and exclusive environment. The high costs associated with horse ownership, training, and competition made it inaccessible to many. I started to question the fairness and inclusivity of a sport that seemed to be reserved for those with financial means. This realization clashed with my belief in equal opportunities and made me question the sustainability of pursuing a sport that seemed to perpetuate privilege.


These growing concerns and ethical dilemmas began to chip away at my once unwavering passion for horse riding. While I still cherished the moments of connection and the feeling of freedom that came with being on horseback, I couldn’t ignore the underlying issues that seemed to mar the sport. It was a disheartening realization that forced me to confront the need for change.


With a heavy heart, I acknowledged that my love for horses and my desire to protect their well-being was at odds with the realities of the equestrian world. I knew I needed to make a difficult decision for the sake of my own integrity and the welfare of these incredible animals.


Physical and mental toll

Horse riding, while exhilarating and rewarding, can also exact a toll on both the physical and mental well-being of riders. The demanding nature of the sport and the constant push for improvement can lead to various challenges.


Physically, horse riding requires strength, balance, and coordination. Hours spent in the saddle can result in muscle fatigue, joint pain, and even long-term injuries. The repetitive motions involved in riding can put strain on the body, particularly the back, hips, and knees. As much as I loved the feeling of freedom while riding, I couldn’t ignore the discomfort and occasional injuries that would accumulate over time.


Mentally, the pressure to perform and meet certain standards can be overwhelming. Equestrians often strive for perfection, constantly critiquing themselves and their abilities. The fear of failure and the desire for perfection can lead to anxiety, self-doubt, and even burnout. As someone with high expectations for myself, I found it increasingly difficult to find joy in horse riding when I was constantly chasing an unattainable ideal.


Furthermore, the competitive aspect of the sport can introduce additional stressors. The pressure to succeed in competitions, the comparisons to other riders, and the judgment from judges can contribute to a high-stress environment. It became challenging to separate my self-worth from my performance and the opinions of others.


The physical and mental tolls of horse riding began to take a toll on my overall well-being. The pain and discomfort made it difficult to fully enjoy the sport and maintain the level of commitment required for improvement. The mental strain eroded the pure joy and passion I once felt and replaced them with stress and self-doubt.


Recognizing the impact on my physical and mental health, I knew that continuing down this path without making changes would be detrimental in the long run. It was time to prioritize my well-being and make decisions that would allow me to find a healthier balance in life.


Financial considerations

One cannot deny that horse riding is an expensive endeavor. From the initial costs of buying or leasing a horse to the ongoing expenses of equipment, boarding, and veterinary care, the financial commitment required can be significant.


Purchasing a horse, in particular, can be a substantial investment. Horses come with their own set of financial responsibilities, including feed, regular farrier and veterinarian visits, and insurance. Additionally, the cost of boarding can vary depending on the location, amenities, and level of care provided. For those who choose to compete, there are entry fees, training fees, and travel expenses to consider.


As much as I was dedicated to the sport, I had to face the reality that my financial resources were not unlimited. The constant strain of keeping up with the expenses began to take away from the joy and freedom I once experienced. It became difficult to justify the financial strain when I considered other priorities in my life, such as education, career advancement, and saving for the future.


Another factor that drew my attention was the exclusivity of the equestrian world. Horse riding has often been associated with wealth and privilege, and this exclusivity can be a barrier for many individuals who may not have the financial means to pursue the sport. This disparity clashed with my desire for a more inclusive and equitable pursuit.


While I understand that pursuing any passion involves financial sacrifices, I had to weigh the costs and benefits of continuing with horse riding. Ultimately, the financial considerations played a significant role in my decision to step away. It was a difficult realization to come to terms with, but I knew that my financial stability and future goals had to take precedence.


By stepping away from horse riding, I would have the opportunity to redirect my financial resources towards other endeavors that aligned more closely with my long-term goals and aspirations. It was a necessary sacrifice to ensure a more secure and balanced future.


Changing priorities

As we go through life, our priorities often shift and evolve. What may have been a central focus at one point in time may no longer align with our current goals, values, and aspirations. This was certainly the case for me as I began to reevaluate my commitments and prioritize different aspects of my life.


While horse riding had been a significant part of my identity for many years, I started to recognize that my interests and passions were expanding beyond the equestrian world. I found myself drawn to new hobbies, career opportunities, and personal development endeavors that required time and energy.


Education, for example, became a priority as I aimed to expand my knowledge and gain new skills. The demands of pursuing higher education made it increasingly challenging to maintain the level of dedication and consistency required for horse riding. Time that had once been dedicated to training and competitions now had to be allocated to my studies and academic pursuits.


Furthermore, relationships and personal connections began to take precedence in my life. Balancing the demands of horse riding with spending quality time with loved ones became increasingly difficult. I yearned for stronger bonds and deeper connections, which required dedicated time and effort. Prioritizing these relationships meant making sacrifices in other areas of my life.


As my career aspirations grew, I realized that my time and energy needed to be directed towards professional growth. Investing in my professional development meant making tough choices, and in this case, it meant stepping away from horse riding. Career opportunities that required intense focus, travel, or conflicting schedules made it challenging to continue with the level of commitment that horse riding demanded.


Ultimately, the shifting priorities in my life led me to reevaluate my dedication to horse riding. While it was difficult to admit that things were changing, it was also an exciting opportunity to explore new avenues, broaden my horizons, and embrace the growth that comes from embracing change.


By acknowledging and embracing these changing priorities, I was able to make a conscious decision to pivot and explore new opportunities that aligned more closely with the person I was becoming. It was a necessary step in my personal growth journey.


The decision to quit

Making the decision to quit horse riding was not an easy one. It required introspection, soul-searching, and a deep understanding of my own needs, values, and aspirations. It was a moment of reckoning where I had to face the reality that my passion for horse riding had started to wane and that it was time to move on.


After carefully considering the physical and mental toll, financial considerations, and changing priorities in my life, I realized that the time had come to say goodbye to this chapter of my life. It was a bittersweet realization, filled with mixed emotions. While I knew it was the right decision for me, it also meant letting go of something that had been such a significant part of my identity.


Quitting horse riding meant releasing myself from the pressures, expectations, and limitations that came with the sport. It meant freeing myself from the constant strive for perfection and allowing room for new experiences and personal growth. While there may be moments of nostalgia and longing, I am confident in the choice I have made and the path that lies ahead.


This decision has allowed me to gain clarity and a renewed sense of purpose. It has given me the opportunity to explore new hobbies, passions, and interests that align more closely with my evolving self. It has opened up new doors and possibilities, allowing me to embrace a more well-rounded and balanced life.


While quitting horse riding may have felt like the end of an era, it is important to remember that it is also the beginning of a new chapter. The memories, lessons, and connections I made through horse riding will always hold a special place in my heart. They have shaped me into the person I am today and have provided me with invaluable experiences and growth.


Although I may no longer be in the saddle, I will forever cherish the moments of connection, freedom, and joy I experienced while horse riding. It will always be a part of my story, a testament to my passion and dedication.


As with any life decision, there will always be a mix of emotions and uncertainties. But by listening to my inner voice, respecting my own needs, and trusting in the path I am carving for myself, I am confident that stepping away from horse riding is the right choice for me. It is a decision that allows me to honor both my past and my future, as I embark on a new journey filled with growth, discovery, and personal fulfillment.


Finding new hobbies

Stepping away from horse riding has opened up a world of possibilities for me to explore new hobbies and passions. While it may be daunting to start something new, it is also an incredibly exciting opportunity to discover different interests and engage in activities that bring me joy and fulfillment.


One hobby that I have recently embraced is hiking. Connecting with nature, breathing in the fresh air, and challenging myself physically and mentally has been incredibly rewarding. Exploring trails, conquering mountains, and witnessing breathtaking views has ignited a sense of adventure and exploration within me.


Another hobby I have delved into is photography. With a camera in hand, I have the chance to capture and immortalize the beauty of the world around me. From scenic landscapes to candid portraits, photography has become a creative outlet that allows me to express myself and share my unique perspective with others.


As someone who values personal growth, I have also discovered a love for reading and writing. Immerse myself in books that stimulate my mind, spark my imagination, and help me gain new insights into the world. Writing, on the other hand, allows me to express my thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a way that is deeply personal and cathartic.


Physical fitness and wellness have also become important focal points in my life. I have begun exploring different exercise routines, such as yoga and Pilates, to cultivate strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. These activities not only benefit my physical health but also contribute to my overall mental well-being.


Engaging in volunteer work has also given me a sense of purpose and fulfillment outside of the equestrian world. I have discovered the joy of giving back to my community through various causes and organizations. From animal shelters to environmental initiatives, these experiences have allowed me to make a positive impact and connect with like-minded individuals.


Finding new hobbies is not solely about replacing horse riding; it is about embracing the opportunity for self-discovery and growth. It is about expanding my horizons, challenging myself, and finding new sources of passion and fulfillment.


While the journey of exploring new hobbies may have its ups and downs, I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Each new experience brings with it a sense of renewal and opportunity for personal growth. Whether it’s through outdoor adventures, creative pursuits, or acts of service, I am committed to exploring new hobbies that align with my values, interests, and aspirations.



The decision to walk away from horse riding was not an easy one, but it was a necessary step in my personal growth and journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life. The physical and mental tolls, financial considerations, changing priorities, and the exploration of new hobbies all played a role in shaping this difficult but important decision.


Though it may be difficult to let go of something that has been such a significant part of my identity, I am confident that stepping away from horse riding is the right choice for me. It has allowed me to prioritize my overall well-being and make room for new experiences, passions, and personal growth.


I will always cherish the memories, lessons, and connections I made through horse riding. The bond between horse and rider is truly special, and I will forever be grateful for the incredible journeys we shared. But it is important to recognize when it is time to pivot, to honor our changing needs, and to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.


By finding new hobbies, I am able to discover different aspects of myself, explore new interests, and create a more diverse and fulfilling life. Whether it’s hiking, photography, writing, physical fitness, or engaging in volunteer work, each new hobby brings its own unique joys and challenges.


Quitting horse riding has been a transformative experience, allowing me to redefine my passions, values, and aspirations. It has taught me the importance of self-reflection, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the resilience to embrace change.


As I embark on this new chapter, I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. I am eager to explore new horizons, to challenge myself, and to continue growing as an individual. While horse riding will always hold a special place in my heart, I am ready to embrace the journey of self-discovery and personal fulfillment that lies beyond the equestrian arena.


By making this choice, I am honoring my true self, and I am confident that this path will lead me to new adventures, opportunities, and a more authentic sense of happiness. Life is a continuous journey, and sometimes stepping away from what no longer serves us is the first step towards discovering what truly does.