How I stay motivated over winter...
British winter and horses... a dreaded mixture of mud and rain and more mud. Long, horsey days usually mean starting in the dark and finishing in the dusk. Additionally, as an Eventer my season is over between November and February, so I don’t even have the excitement of competition ahead of me to spur me through. In reality, the highs of working with horses well outweigh the lows... but in the winter I have a few ways of reminding myself of this, and motivating myself when I need it the most.
- Looking ahead.
Unsurprisingly, the most effective motivation method to spur me on throughout the winter months is looking forward to the Eventing season, planning it out from when the British Eventing Calendar is released in early December. There is nothing more effective than getting clear goals set out in front of you, you can then count down the days until you can tackle them face on, and make sure you are best equipped to succeed. Personally I find visual aids really useful, I have a 2020 wall planner pinned to my bedroom wall, with all the big competitions I wish to attend clearly marked out, this way when I wake up every morning I’m reminded exactly what I’m working towards, and that, to me, is super motivating.
- Training, training and more training!
It certainly can be tough not Eventing over the winter, and not getting the thrill of the sport you love. However there are some big perks... like having far more time on your hands. Instead of spending weekends trekking hours up and down the country to compete, I can focus my winter months on working on the things that didn’t exactly work out over the 2020 season... for Star and I, this winter is providing a great opportunity for us to really tackle our dressage. Throughout the 2020 season our dressage training improved tremendously, largely thanks to the Crosby Dressage Saddle which we both love, his work at home has become so relaxed and promising! However we are often still stung by his competition nerves, he lets the Eventing atmosphere get to him a bit too much in the dressage phase... which isn’t ideal! So winter has provided us with an excellent opportunity to train lots with our instructors and also get to some unaffiliated dressage and hopefully give him some nice, relaxed experiences!
- Looking at how far you’ve come...
As well as looking forward at what’s to come, it can be super motivating to look back at what you’ve achieved so far. Let the summer highs push you through winter! For example I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on one of my Novice Eventers’ Atty’s showjumping. In the the 2019 season showjumping was often our weakest phase when stepping up to BE Novice, it was not uncommon for us to roll 3 poles in the ring, which really pushed us down the leaderboard, and we didn’t once get that double clear at BE Novice. Yet in 2020, despite a hugely reduced season thanks to COVID, we managed to seriously improve our showjumping, often just taking one rail down and we even finished the season with that double clear at BE Novice we’d been so desperate for! That feeling of great achievement is a huge motivating factor for me, it spurs me on throughout the winter and makes me keen to work even harder to improve even more!
- Rest and Recuperation
Finally, the winter period lends itself to some time to recuperate! Summer can be super busy, particularly if you’re an Eventer. Often whole weekends taken up travelling and competing, with weekdays spent working hard and training. So the winter can provide a nice opportunity for down time... dare I say it... even some non-horsey weekends! In pre-COVID era, I liked to spend 1/2 weekend a month throughout winter out on daytrips, or catching up with non-horsey friends who perhaps don’t understand just how busy I am in the summer. It can be really refreshing to take a step back, give yourself some time to balance horses with fun and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that! When the world in a little more back to normal... winter provides a perfect time for a well earned sunny holiday too! Although sadly I don’t think I’ll be hoping on a plane and jetting off abroad anytime soon.... but plenty of time to rest up and prepare for 2021.
So there you have it, my top-tips for staying motivated throughout the winter. Follow these and the spring will roll around in no time (and you’ll be prepared to smash 2021!) We can get through this together! And of course have a very merry Christmas!