Keeping up enthusiasm and progression for riding and training through the winter months can be tough! It’s cold, often wet, and if you’re fitting in your riding sessions before and after work, then it’s usually dark too. If you’ve only got half an hour or so to play with, then you need to utilise your time as best as you can, to ensure that your horse not only gets exercised, but that there’s some progression throughout the winter months. Without any progression, it can be hard to keep up the enthusiasm to go out there in the cold. By the time you’ve warmed up when training, you may have a limited time to then ‘pick them up’ and do some proper work, so it’s easy to get stuck’, and not actually move forward towards any goals. So we’ve set out a few tips to help you keep your ‘drive’, and come out of winter having potentially solved the previous season’s training issues, and ready to kick start the next.
We think the first and most important thing is goal setting. Having something to aim towards will help keep your motivation up, and make you want to get out there and get going. Make sure these goals are achievable, as working hard at something you can’t crack can be really disheartening; yet achieving goals and being able to tick them off your list will really boost your motivation and desire to move forward. Also, give your goals reasonable deadlines so you don’t get lazy with them, and you can be strict about having a time limit to achieve them. This will make it easier to plan your sessions beforehand, so you can get on and know exactly what you want to work on and achieve in each session.
Planning your sessions
This leads nicely onto the next important thing – planning. You can waste so much valuable time (and daylight!) getting yourself ready, or thinking about what to do, where to ride, what tack to use etc – be prepared to walk onto the yard, tack up, get on and GO! If you know you’re going to be chasing daylight, be organised and prepare things earlier in the day or the night before. Use the dark hours to prepare your haynets and feeds, to maximise time. Have your tack, boots, saddle cloth etc together and ready to put on. Have your own kit in one place ready to wear; you can put your helmet on as you walk to the stable! Don’t worry about your horse not looking immaculate to ride, so long as the parts the tack touches are clean (a quick brush-off around these areas will suffice), you’re good to go! You can give them a good proper groom afterwards, after its gone dark. If it’s quite cold, then also consider using a quarter sheet or exercise sheet to warm them up in, to help the muscles warm up faster.
Waiting for the sun
If you’re riding first thing in the morning and your problem is waiting for the sun to come out, the trick is to have your horse nicely warmed up ready to go as soon as possible. You could give them a good groom to start to get their circulation going, and then do some stretches with them to start warming their muscles up. You can stretch them with tack on, so you’ll be ready to go. Do some carrot stretches, and consider a therapy massage pad, the kind that you leave on the horse’s back, for a massage cycle – they’re ideal to get your jobs done, such as mucking out. These pads aid back flexibility, and are useful for warming up as the oscillation helps to stimulate the horse’s muscles.
Do check out our friends at Equiads magazine – www.equi-ads.com – for more great horsey advice.
NB – if you’d like to plan a riding trip for the new year, don’t forget our new equestrian and wellness holiday package, which will certainly relax and rejuvenate you! It runs for either three or five days. These unique riding packages involve the perfect balance of rejuvenation, relaxation and reward, making them the ideal ‘off season’ equestrian holiday. They offer a holistic approach to an equestrian break by not only affording the guest daily indoor riding, but also time to look after their spiritual and emotional well-being. These packages include three or five nights’ accommodation at our newly renovated Lodge, with a full hearty Irish breakfast each morning, three x 45 minute indoor riding lessons each day, one consultation with a Sports Physiotherapist to review your general physical well-being, a daily spa ritual (full body massage), use of the sauna and outdoor hot tub daily, one 70-minute reflexology or reiki treatment, and two sessions of Yoga or Pilates! They also include a light lunch each day, and a two-course evening meal in Conor’s Bar, each evening. (Three Day Package from €1,205pps; 5 Day package from €1,775pps). Click here for more information. We’d love to welcome you!