Aim to finish work at 5.30. Actually finish work at 6.45 as you inefficiently managed your time throughout the working day by browsing TRI Equestrian when you should have been doing your client report.
Drive to yard. Get stuck behind every car that has ever driven on the commuter belt in the history of the workforce, ever.
Arrive at yard. Spend 20mins sitting in your car whinging because you stupidly left the heating on and are now far too cold to get out. Cry whilst looking all the smug people on Instagram stories who have already ridden their horse and are home for tea.
Arrive at stable. Immediately alert your yard owner, local law enforcement and the local zoo that your horse has been stolen, and the thugs have left behind a large hippo in its place. Quickly realise this is in fact your horse, but it is covered from head to toe in sloppy, caked on mud.
Groom. And by groom, I mean get curry comb, dandy brush and potentially a large rake, and scrape/brush only the parts of the horse that are 100% guaranteed to have tack lying against them. At this stage, grooming and riding are mutually exclusive.
Tack up. Realise that you have missed a piece of mud behind your horse’s ears. Reason with yourself that you’re absolutely not going to be putting either you or your horse under enough pressure that they might even potentially break a sweat. Cast aside all safety concerns and go bootless to avoid brushing or power hosing legs.
Mount. And by mount, I mean spend a large proportion of time following your horse around in a small circle with your reins in one hand and a mounting block in the other, as they make a decision about which direction their arse is least likely to feel the prevailing wind. Subsequently give up and haul yourself into the saddle, taking whatever bit of precious mane was left out with your hand as you hold on for dear life.
Start your warmup with a brisk walk. And by brisk walk, I mean a walk resembling a tolt that any Icelandic pony would be proud of. After a few sideways spooks in each direction, give up and begin trotting.
Hold on for dear life in trot. Wonder why your horse could never display this power and extension when you actually ask for it across the diagonal in a dressage test.
Attempt to use your leg to bend your horse beautifully on your circle. Result = horse running. Take up your reins and half half, executing the aids perfectly as your instructor has shown you. Horse canters. Give up and let horse run.
After countless circles that are shaped more like egg timers, unintentional shoulder ins, unrequested direct halts from trot, and some flashy extensions coming out of each dark corner, you are (absolutely not) ready to begin your canter work.
Ask for canter. Get canter. Feel shocked. But then get nicely levelled by the series of unrequested two time changes that the horse conducts as you try to ask it to canter a simple circle up the top of the arena. Try again. Horse stays on the correct canter lead this time, but does prefer to do so like a giraffe.
Repeat on both reins. Your other rein is better, so the canter is faster because the horse is stronger. But at least he’s in a shape.
Finish your session on a long rein. Horse knackered from spooking, running, lateral work, and so many flying changes – so he gives you a lovely stretchy trot, and actually the halt at the end was quite nice. Even if it took you half the length of the arena to get it.
Dismount, patting your horse, while telling yourself that “despite the conditions, there really were some nice moments in there”.
Put horse away and give 500 treats and a big hug. Horse chuffed at being rewarded for running.
Drive home, having an internal monologue about how much time and money you’d save if you just sold the blooming horse and went to the gym, like normal people.
Question your ability to ride, convince yourself you don’t have time anyway, and start thinking about how you can use the horse’s ability to open its own gate as a selling point in the ad.
Arrive home. Have a shower and make a cup of tea. By the time this is complete, any and all thoughts of giving up horse riding have gone. You sit on the sofa, looking at the rosettes you’ve won, the beautiful pictures of you and your horse, and it reminds you of why you do this.
You decide, once again, not to quit horse riding, and that your season ahead with bright sunny days and mud-free fields will be worth it. You go to bed, happy and content, excited for the sunny season ahead.
The next morning, your alarm clock will go off at 6am. You will take back any positive feeling you ever had and revert to intending to sell your horses.
And so the cycle continues.