Lately, I’ve been hitting some roadblocks in my riding. We’re more than halfway through the summer show season, and I’m finding myself feeling a little bit less motivated to ride, and a little bit less confident about my abilities. There are a lot of factors at play, including weather and motivation, but I’m still sitting here scratching my head, trying to figure out a way to get back into the game mentally and keep preparing for our final three shows (which are rapidly approaching).
My strategy to beat this summertime sadness is to identify my problem areas and brainstorm some ways I can work through them. And the first step is to let go of things out of my control. Miles threw a shoe last weekend, which resulted in a few days off. This is frustrating, but a few days off won’t hurt him. Then he got something stuck in his left eye and wound up with a mild corneal ulcer (over which I totally freaked out, naturally). The vet has been out, and he’s getting medicine with the prognosis of a full recovery in about a week. These two things aren’t within my control: I can’t keep Miles’s shoes on by holding them there myself, and horses will be horses. They’re going to get hurt now and then, and I’m just grateful it wasn’t any worse.
The second step is to prioritize, and stick to my most important items. Family and friends are extremely important to me — I’d go to the ends of the Earth and back for those I count among the small list of family and best friends — and spending time with them is non-negotiable. We go to dinner Sunday evenings at my in-laws every week… and I’m not changing that because I love it. My best friend is horse shopping, so I’m spending time traveling with her to see horses and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. My other best friend is getting married in September, so I’m spending some more time with her. It might mean I have fewer opportunities to be at the barn, but supporting my A-Team is my number one priority.
Finally, I’m writing down all the things that I want to improve and making a plan to work on them. And then I’m going to repeat to myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Improvement takes time. Improvement takes patience. Improvement takes dedication. The only way these are going to get better is if I get motivated and work on them, even in small increments. I may not be headed to the Olympics, but I still want to be the best rider I can be.
- Miles’s and Moiya’s Coat: Both horses are getting some summer yuckiness in their coats, and of course it’s driving me crazy. I just need to make sure I’m not cutting corners on grooming each day, and applying topical treatments.
- Miles’s Topline: We’ve been working on forward so much that Miles’s topline isn’t quite as strong as I’d like to see it. I need to make a point of doing some long and low work to finish out each ride.
- Adjustable Gaits: I don’t work enough on adjustability within gaits and truly having three speeds within the walk, trot, and canter. Once a week, I need to focus a flat ride on this subject.
- Lateral Movements: I’ve been working on leg yields this summer, but not shoulder-in or haunches-in. I’m going to do some reading on these subjects and start working on them on my own, and ask Trainer to go over them in a lesson soon.
- Leg Position and Strength: I haven’t been happy with how my lower leg looks in pictures… and I don’t think my current leg position is very effective. I need to add in no stirrup and two-point work into the beginning of each ride. Plus, I’m trying to ride once a week with friends who can help me improve the position.
- Core Strength: I’ve gotten pretty good at stretching up through my ribcage, but the next step is to engage my core more. So I’m going to add in sitting trot to my routine, and make sure that in two-point I’m using my core muscles.
So that’s my list. Now that it’s all out in the open, and written down with a solid plan, I feel better… now I just need to stay motivated to make it all happen!