Is equestrian life as glamorous as it seems?
Seven years ago, I was living in Queensland where the sun shone everyday and life was bliss! But I couldn’t help thinking that growing up as an equestrian in the harsh Victorian weather (particularly Winter!) had taught me a thing or two. Then when I moved my life back to Victoria after five years away, the following Winter season hit me hard! I began feeling the harsh realities of the equestrian lifestyle…
But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining.
So this year I’ve approached Winter with a different perspective. One that looks for the doors that open as others close. In this case, Winter means less daylight hours and less than ideal weather conditions, which for horse addicts like me and you, means less time in the saddle and more mud under our fingernails.
But it also presents an opportunity.
Whether it sounds vain or not, the opportunity is to spend time working on yourself. I’m not talking about retail therapy – I’m already VERY good at that! You should see my saddle pad collection! I’m talking about off the horse training. Otherwise known as cross training.
Cross Training in Equestrian Life
The first reason that Winter is the best season for achieving your goals is that it provides you with more time to train off the horse.
Recent research has shown that a strength training program off the horse can improve rider position and overall riding performance (Lee, et al. 2015).
Cross training comes in many forms, such as Pilates, Yoga, strength training, running, bootcamps, training at the gym, at home training, group or individual classes, and the list goes on… And that’s just the physical aspect!
Goal Setting Success
There’s also the mental aspect of cross training to take into account. Such as goal setting, reflections, meditation, journalling, reading, etcetera.
The second reason that Winter is the best season for achieving your goals is that it’s the best time to review your goals. Less time outside riding means more time inside to plan for success.
- What went well in the first 6 months of the year?
- What didn’t go so well? And why?
- What are you going to change in the next 6 months?
Give Me Motivation
The third reason that Winter is an opportunity rather than mood-killer is motivation.
Motivation is a feeling that comes from within. We all know that feeling of being so in love with our horses when they go well. That feeling of connection that only equestrian life can bring. So the key is to blend your riding goals and inspiration with the rest of your life. Thinking about your riding when you brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, drive your car and as you sit at your desk (with your shoulders down and back, of course).
When you marry up your riding goals with your physical and mental health goals, there’s no need to worry about motivation again. Motivation flows freely when you know that what you’re doing in the gym or at home directly affects your riding performance.
Education for Equestrians
Finally, knowledge is power. The Winter season provides yet another opportunity to spend more time learning and growing – whether it’s watching videos on the EquiLivin App, reading books, taking courses or going to live events.
One of the greatest things about our sport is that our horsey knowledge is transferable to our relationships at home and in the workplace, as well as in the saddle. And vice versa.
I’m all for organisation, planning and sticking to a schedule. But when it comes to Winter and Mother Nature has decided it’s going to rain and hail all weekend long – you have to be flexible, improvise and have a back up plan.
Taking a step back, temporarily, enables you to leap forward with momentum when the sun starts shining again.
Although I miss the consistent warmth, sun and blue skies of Central Queensland, nothing can replace my fluffy ponies, supportive communities and the positive stress that the Victorian equestrian life provides. This is home.
In summary, my reasons why Winter is the best season for achieving riding and life goals:
- More time for cross training off the horse. Studies have shown benefits in specific cross training programs, while riding-only programs have shown none.
- More space to revisit your goals. Less time outside riding means more time inside to plan for success
- More energy for aligning the rest of your life, resulting in increased motivation.
- More knowledge to help you break through any issues on or off the horse. If you want to succeed in riding, in your career or in your relationship. One thing that’s for certain is that you need to learn and grow.