It’s a new year full of possibilities and exciting goals to achieve. CHRISTINE ARMISHAW has some excellent advice on making the most of your time.
It’s that time again when the prospect of a shiny, fresh new year sparks plans, awakens dreams and reignites hope for what might lie ahead. Future planning is the best way to see your aspirations become reality and, if you are serious about making things happen, here are a few ways to make the best of the next 365 days.
Firstly, it’s important to look back on where you’ve come from in order to prepare for what comes next. What did you do? What didn’t you do? What would you have liked to have done better? What was your biggest success? Many have experienced setbacks these past few months. Annoying viruses and huge amounts of rain have affected the equestrian community as a whole, so if you didn’t get to do as much as you’d hoped in 2022, don’t worry, you’re not alone! I personally have struggled with keeping shoes on my main eventer, while eventing and jumping competitions have been cancelled left, right and centre.
Instead of stressing about what didn’t eventuate, take stock of where you and your horse are at right now. Did you manage even a couple of outings? Is your horse currently sound? Have you recently been able to focus on more training then was possible earlier in the year? Answering ‘yes’ to questions like these can help provide a bit of perspective; things aren’t all bad and even if you haven’t achieved the competition goals you had hoped for, there are still things to be happy about if you look for them. If you did manage to kick some personal goals, well done!
Now, from a positive mindset, it’s time to look ahead and see what you’d like to do with your horse in the next twelve months and possibly beyond. It’s really good to have a big goal, one that might seem a little bit out there, but one that would feel amazing if you achieved it. You might aim to move up a level this season, or compete at a venue you’ve always wanted to ride at; the point is it has to stoke your fire and get you excited. You need laser focus and this big dream goal helps you know where to direct it. Mark it out on your calendar, ideally later in the year so you will have time to prepare. Next, look at what’s coming up, when, and where for the year ahead and drop all the possible competitions that will help you on your way towards the big one into your planner.
Then break the steps down even further, into little bite size chunks, or mini goals. Identify areas you need to work on and improve, and focus on things you can specifically influence, like riding better twenty metre circles; improving your technique over an oxer; or increasing your horse’s confidence in water. Book some lessons or enter local training days to keep yourself accountable in the build up to and in between competitions.
Give yourself an edge
You want to feel amped with what you’re doing now, before adding extra pressure. If you haven’t been out for a while, give yourself and your horse a confidence boost and help kick the season off with a bang by making your first appearance at a lower level. Early success pays psychological dividends, so having a really good outcome when you’re starting back is brilliant for your mindset and self-belief, and will bolster your confidence as you push yourself further.
If you’re an eventer, reducing the difficulty by adding in a few straight dressage and jumping days is another brilliant way to ease both you and your horse into the groove and pinpoint any areas of weakness that need to be worked on.
Remember, do all your homework; it is up to you to put in all the time, effort and preparation. Competitions are simply a way to test your training so far.
A Prussian Field Marshal once said, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, so remember even the best laid plans will need a good dose of flexibility thrown in, especially when it comes to horses. If we know anything for certain, it’s that nothing is certain! We can’t predict life’s curve balls, but we can be prepared to adjust and pivot.
It may take longer than you expect to get your horse comfortable enough that you feel you can move up a level, or a few unexpected weeks off riding may mean you miss one of the keystone events that you’ve marked out. If this happens, alter your plans to suit the circumstances. You always want to be over prepared rather than underprepared, keeping confidence up is critical.
One of the traits of the best horse people is the ability to adapt to any situation. If you can make this part of your mantra, you are bound to find success. Here’s to 2023; go get on your horse and make it count.
Feature Image: Christine and Lyric at the Sydney Spring Carnival (Image by Elegant Exposures)