Staying Motivated to Ride

Urgh! I'm so done with winter, normally I like winter but this year has been rotten. The fields are mucky, the ground is soft and we have a weather warning every other day.

Winter can be challening at the best of times but this year has really outdone itself. It takes a lot of dedication to leave the warmth of the indoors to go out in the lashing rain and muck out and feed - never mind riding!

At the moment I've 4 stabled overnight (Liath, Blue, Ozzy and Setanta) and 2 still living out full time (Harry and Ferdia). Despite having only(!) four stables to muck out, I find I'm often short on time and riding often gets sidelined. I also don't have an arena so I'm pretty much at the mercy of the weather and daylight - it's not ideal, but I manage. Winter should be the time of year where I put loads of time into the horses and work through any schooling issues - which far easier said than done. While this time of year can really test even the most motivated equestrian.

Wearing the right clothes
Nothing makes me want to leave the yard quicker than when I get damp and cold. Wearing the right clothes and having spares in the car is essential. I live in thermal socks during the winter -  I hate having numb feet! I've started wearing my ski gloves again around the yard and they are fantastic, they keep my hands so toasty but are also waterproof so I don't have to worry about them getting damp. I find that if I'm warm and dry I will tend to spend more time on the yard and ride out more.

Riding out with friends
This one really helps get me out riding. I've a friend nearby that I go out hacking with and another friend who I go to the beach with. I aim to meet them both at least once a week. I particularly love going to the beach as we get to have a gallop, do a bit of schooling and top it off with a swim in the sea. The horses love it and its so good for cleaning their legs and cleaning out any little nicks or scrapes.
Set goals
If I don't have something to focus or work on I tend to get lazy and my schooling sessions become a bit erratic. I have to set goals, both short and long-term. I try to break them up into much smaller chunks so that they are more achievable and so I don't get bored. Having smaller goals means they should be reached quickly and the satisfaction of reaching them really keeps me going.

Book a lesson
This one is guaranteed to get me up and out (having a lesson in an indoor certainly helps!). I like being given 'homework' at it gives me something to work on inbetween lessons. It forces me ride so I don't turn up to the next lesson completely unprepared.

Mix it up
Step away from your normal riding sessions in an arena and mix it up a bit. Go hacking, organise a beach trip, try TREC or even organise a side saddle clinic. There are so many things you can do with your horse and sometimes the

Get out Competing!
I use winter as a time to school and work on any issues but there are a lot of people with fit and competition ready horses that want to be out. Likewise, some riders use competitions as a way of gauging their progress. Getting up at the crack of dawn to clean legs and plait in the depths of winter just doesn't appeal to me anymore - but I still like to venture out to the odd show.

Me Time
It's worth remembering that horses really don't care if you get up to ride or not. Once they're fed, watered and warm they're fairly content. Sometimes you have to treat yourself and just have a cosy night in, beside the fire with a glass of wine :)

Have you got any motivational tips that work for you?

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