Who is feeling a bit rubbish right now? Certainly in the Northern hemisphere January is usually a pretty miserable month, and with Covid and all that goes with it, for many of us this year it is worse than ever. Somehow I’ve managed to compound this by breaking my laptop, having car problems and a lorry that needs a new exhaust! It really does seem as if everything that could go wrong, is going wrong. So then, how do we deal with riding the horse, and keeping motivated and focused? It’s easy when the weather is good, there is training to be had, competitions to aim for…..life gets on a positive roll. But without those external motivators, it’s down to us as individuals to maintain that momentum.
I’ve decided to back right off. I have no proper arena, and the moor has either been frozen or a bog. Some days we’ve had fog so thick it’s not safe to go on the roads instead.
So, I’ve given Lizzie a quiet spell. We’ve hacked a bit if we can, we’ve done very little schooling, and much more in the way of stable exercises. When we have schooled I’ve kept it really simple and focused almost entirely on myself. I can’t ask Lizzie to work properly in these conditions, but I can use the time to check in on myself. If there is no pressure with competition deadlines, I am not distracted by worrying about how well she is going.
It’s a bit like how I feel when I do Pilates, focusing on me in the saddle. Pilates makes me feel good because I am concentrating on moving my body in a ‘good’ and constructive way. I internalise with a positive effect, and the same is true if I remove the horse from the schooling equation. And ok, I can’t do this all the time. We will need to up the collection, and the activity of the hindleg, and get bigger steps in the half pass – but only when we have a vaguely useable surface – and actually a lot of these things are happening much better anyway because I am riding better. This in turn makes me feel better. I am achieving a lot by removing some unnecessary clutter from my schooling work.
Never underestimate the importance of time spent hacking, even if it just around the edge of a field. I perfected the ‘leg, half-halt, lighten’ sequence over a winter of road work with Baz. So if you are struggling to feel motivated, or just can’t put in the work right now, do not panic. Bring the focus back on to you and you may well find everything looks rather more positive.
Take care and stay safe,
PS – If you really want to raise your game and come out all guns blazing then now is the perfect time to try the Masterclass group!