I don’t know about you guys, but I currently have a day off work due to a storm that’s about to drop 6 – 8 inches of snow on New Jersey – as if we needed that. This winter has been brutal. Tons of snow storm, bitter cold, and not much riding time.
Guest writer, Alison Kennedy, came up with some tips to help us beat those winter blues and make it through the last of the winter freeze.
The arctic has descended onto central Ohio, making it extremely difficult for me to find the motivation to do just about anything except for sit on my couch in my pajamas. I want to ride, don’t get me wrong, but the idea of layering enough clothing on me to face the below-zero windchill just does not sound appealing. By the time I put on several layers of insulating clothes, I’m pretty much ready to crawl back inside.
It’s definitely not easy to stay motivated through the depths of winter, but I’ve found a few strategies that have helped me keep working hard even in the cold and get me pumped up for spring’s eventual arrival.
Knock out spring cleaning early. Take a day that it’s too cold to ride or even sometime before or after a ride, and give your tack trunks a good cleaning. I find that if I organize everything before show season starts, I’m scrambling less once I’m trying to show. Going through everything in my trunks gives me a chance to inventory what I already have, rehome what I no longer use, and come up with a list of what I need for the coming season with enough time to find it all. As an eventer, I have a lot of tack and equipment. I have two saddles, multiple bridles, boots for different phases, and I’m going to be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of saddle pads I own. It takes some effort to keep it all organized, and the end of winter is the perfect time to jumpstart that organization.
Mark horse show dates on a calendar. One of the best motivators for me is to see a visual reminder of what’s to come. As soon as horse show dates are posted by various organizations, I add them to my calendar. I have two – one basic one, and one Passion Planner, a specific goal-setting organizer that I’m trying this year. I like to plan my show season as early as possible so that I can start setting money aside for entries. I know which of the shows are the most expensive and which ones I would be okay skipping if I couldn’t afford them. When you’re on a tight budget, planning far in advance is essential. Plus it’s fun to look how great the spring and summer will be! Currently, I have something going on at least two weekends most months and every weekend of July – bring it on!
Set at least one goal for the show season, and create a plan to work towards it. I’ve been working with a trainer for the past six months, something that I haven’t been able to afford for a while. Taking lessons regularly has reinvigorated my desire to constantly improve and to settle for nothing less. As part of my winter motivation, I like to set goals for myself and for my horse. Make sure that when you set goals, they are achievable. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to make showing at 4th Level my goal when my mare and I are about to make our Intro debut this spring. Be honest with yourself, and get the advice of others. While I initially had the goal of training level this year, I looked at the tests and saw the stretchy trot circle. Tess, my horse, and I are finally figuring out contact; we’re definitely not ready for the stretchy trot circle. My trainer has been a great influence on my goal-setting – we’re taking the time soon to try out some of the movements in my lessons and work from there. My goals this year are to successfully debut at Intro Level dressage, to compete at all of the mini trials in our local series, and to win a 4th consecutive series championship of our local hunter paces. To achieve these, I plan on staying in weekly dressage lessons with my trainer and adding conditioning rides in the spring. I also checked out a few books from my local library. 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider had some excellent exercises that I’ve been able to incorporate into my rides.
Invest in something warm! It’s so much easier to handle being outside when you’re toasty warm. If you’re looking for a serious investment, I suggest the UnderArmour ColdGear Leggings. I wear these every day under jeans and breeches, and I can’t recommend them enough! They’re compression, which makes breeches look and feel great, and they keep me warm without making me too hot. They’re flexible and comfortable enough to wear all day long. Scarves are another great way to stay warm and looking cute too. My girlfriend bought me the official Baker scarf for Christmas, and I love it! Super warm, it’s the perfect accessory for any Baker princess, like myself. For the quick and cheap way to stay warm, I buy the single-use Grabber hand and foot warmers. They cost about $1.50-$2.00 a pair, but they are incredible. I wouldn’t have survived working at the barn in winter without them! For feet, I like the ones that are specifically made for toes – they have a sticky patch on them so you can attach them directly to your feet. Nothing is worse than hopping off after riding in the winter and feeling like your feet have shattered because they’re so cold.
Treat yourself to something new for spring. Maybe it’s a new show coat or a helmet. Maybe it’s something smaller like a new bridle charm or monogram. Keep yourself excited for spring by treating yourself to something new. I recently found a great deal on a pair of Equifit D-Teq hind boots. They had been personalized by someone else with the name Tessa. After finding them for sale on a Facebook Tack Trader group, I realized that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have them. D-Teqs for $80 that already had my horse’s name on them? Too perfect! So I invested in them. I’m pumped for show season – now I just need to find the fronts! Make sure whatever you decide on, it gets you excited to work and ride even in the cold weather.
These are certainly not the only ways to keep motivated during winter, but they’re ideas that I’m currently using as I fight the bitter cold and wind. If all else fails, I just keep telling myself that spring has to be on the way because one of the horses where I work is already shedding!
Post some of your winter motivation ideas in the comments! What are your goals for this year?
Alison Kennedy is an adult amateur in graduate school. She is working hard to balance her budget with affording her horse and opportunities to show. She likes to invest in quality products without breaking the bank. To her, the thrift store and equine consignment shops are the best places to find a bargain. You can find Alison on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.