I have been riding since the age of 10. Now, before you start picturing rows of rosettes and shiny trophies, I want to be clear: I don’t ride competitively. And despite the amount of time I have put into it over the years, I am still not very good at it. Recently, I heard someone define horse riding as ‘the art of keeping the horse between yourself and the ground’ – and in my experience, that description is all too apt.
I do it because it’s fun. I love horses, despite wholeheartedly agreeing with Sherlock Holmes that they are ‘dangerous at both ends, and crafty in the middle’. Once a week I spend an hour out in the open air, trying to persuade a Clydesdale/ thoroughbred cross named Boston to listen to me. Clydesdales are known for being steady and unflappable, thoroughbreds for being flighty and a bit temperamental. True to form, Boston flips between the two; you are never quite sure what you are in for on any given day. Some days we soar over jumps, and other days a plastic bag blows across our path and he bolts and heads for the hills.
I am never going to be a championship showjumper, or even own my own horse. But the hour a week that I spend riding, just for the fun of it, is something I really look forward to.
I’ve also got to know an amazing group of people I probably wouldn’t have met or befriended otherwise. Our group is not the horsey set who grew up on horseback and own their own; most picked it up as adults, everyone has a day job, and we all do it just for the sheer love of it.
The side hustle trap
There are two main problems with hobbies these days. One, they are seen as a waste of time. We’ve become so obsessed with our careers that an afternoon spent dabbling in watercolours is considered a wasted opportunity. You should have been out net working, or catching up on emails; or, at the very least, doing some thing constructive like going to the gym, meal prepping for the week ahead or tackling that ever-growing pile of laundry.
We’re also taught that if we do have a hobby, one we are good at, we should be earning money from it. Millennials, in particular, grew up hearing, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ As a result hobbies are often turned into side hustles – and the added pressure that brings tends to suck all the joy out of an activity you used to enjoy.
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