We are about to enter March and yet we are still very much in winter, as ever, it’s been a period of mixed emotions with a fair share of meltdowns, mainly because it’s raining…again! But I do now feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I decided to give Paddy some chilled out hacking time for a month after Kelsall before starting back up, which worked well until he developed a cough as he was coming back into proper work. So he ended up having 2 months out instead…typical man! Bully just ploughed on being the tough little trooper that he is.
Normally during winter, especially January, I go into hibernation, self-demotivation mode and become obsessed with training at home but not actually going out to put into place what we have practiced. Before I know it it’s March, we are entered into our first event, yet my horses haven’t been out anywhere since last season! But this time I was determined not to slip into the same mental state.
This winter has been the first time I’ve managed to use social media to my advantage. Instead of feeling inferior at what other people are achieving I’ve turned it around and used it as a learning opportunity. I started to follow Dressage rider Olivia Towers who is great at letting you see the massive roller coaster ride that horses give us. Event rider Pandora Briselden shows us the creative technical lines she jumps on her beautiful greys, which we can then recreate at home. Whilst Swedish show-jumper Cornelia Rylen is amazing at showing the endless gridwork exercises that are available.
At the end of December, having just accepted a job at Ashbrook Equine Hospital, I knew I needed to be super organised to fit everything in. So I set my goals for 2018 and instead of leaving them as a distant target I worked backwards, breaking it down piece by piece to figure out how I was actually going to get there. I spent hours and hours looking at competitions, analysing what I could do and where I could go, dabbling between Riding Club, British Dressage, British Showjumping and British Eventing. The choices were endless and before I knew it I had things booked for every weekend, the poor horses would be exhausted!
I realised that in my vain attempt at not becoming a tortoise over the winter, I had spiralled into motivational madness instead. If I wasn’t careful I would be burnt out before the season had even started, which happened last weekend at a stressage competition when I crashed and burned from trying to cram so much in. Bully went beautifully but when I got home I was worn out – I physically couldn’t do anymore.
When you see everyone else constantly going out it’s hard not to feel like you could always be doing more. More work, more training, more competitions, to be fitter, to eat better, the list goes on…it can be exhausting and mind boggling. Whilst it may be hard to hold back, sometimes the dangers of overtraining are real. Potentially one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn is finding the right balance, which is critical in helping me achieve my goals and keeping me and my horses healthy.