Top Tips to help keep my head in the game

Top Tips

At times we can really feel like we are on a motivation streak, that time period where you are focused, feeling refreshed and ready to take on a challenge head on. Which is probably one of the best feelings, especially being an equestrian!

But, as they say, ‘what goes up, comes down’. I’m not talking about the measurement of success by winning a dressage test at every competition for months on end then hitting a rough patch being knocked off your winning place.

I’m talking about behind the scenes, your usual day to day the stuff that keeps you motivated to jump out of bed every morning.

Now by all means, I am not a State or National champion rider. But I am amateur rider and I know how challenging it can be at times! Here are a few of my top tips that help me keep my head in the game and focus on my training and competition goals.

Sleep

Sounds simple. But it is one of the more difficult things to master and get into a routine! One wise person (my Mum!) told me once, it’s the hours before midnight that count. It is so, so true. Heading to bed at an early yet reasonable hour, even though you might not fall asleep instantly (unlike me, who falls asleep within minutes of my head from hitting the pillow!!), it’s great practise to hit the sack early. Getting into that routine early to bed early to rise. Even if you are giving your horse the day off or are planning to ride after work, it’s a great feeling getting up early and seizing the day – so to speak!

Nutrition

Now I call it nutrition, but I don’t want to call it diet. As diet to me implies just that, dieting, limiting or restricting the food intake. To be completely honest with you all, I’m not too sure what to call this part!

This has always been a yoyo with me. I eat great then not so great, then great again. I am no way qualified in this area, but when I start to get into the routine with my sleep, getting up early to kick arse in the day. I tend to eat ‘well’, by this I mean a decent amount of fruit/veg during the week. Less chocolate and less snacks during the day. Because let’s face it, we never feel like riding horses after we’ve had a Big Mac meal from McDonalds!!

Training Plan

I really enjoy scheduling out my week with the horses. From Monday – Sunday. I like to kick my week off on a Monday, I know some who enjoy Sunday being the start of the week…. (who are these people?!)

I map out on a white board in columns and rows with the horses I have in work with the week. I have letters symbolising lunging, riding, hacking and days off.  I know at the moment being winter, I’m not going to have much luck during the week after work. So, I usually plan my weekends both as riding days. At the moment (weather permitting) I usually plan around 3-4 days riding, with 1-2 lunge days and the rest days off. Riding during the week I usually keep them short and sweet and have longer rides on weekends when I can focus on a few areas.

I find by mapping it out and planning it really takes some stress off my mind, especially if I start panicking that I missed a day. I can just work around it.

Rest Days 

One of the most important things! Resting. Know when to rest, know when to take a day off, take a break. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, chances are so is your horse! If you really don’t want to take a day off, then go do something different. Trail ride or a nice hack out!

Of course, all these things work great when you get into a routine. Getting into a routine and making it a habit.

What are your tips for helping you stay motivated? Would love to hear them!

Team Standardbred

What it means to be an Amateur Dressage Rider

In this day in age in our wonderful world of our beloved sport of dressage, we are fortunate enough to see the beginnings of the recognition of an Amateur Owner Rider division. The beginning of a new competitive edge with our fellow ambitious equestrians who look up to our fellow professional riders within the game.

But firstly, what really is an amateur?

Well, when we type it into our search engine the first hit we discover the meaning defined as a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis’ my second hit reads ‘a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity.’

Personally, I feel as though both definitions sell us short. Because we don’t train and ride full time doesn’t mean we are not passionate about our sport. It doesn’t mean we treat this sport as a hobby that we can just pick up and leave at any time. It is full time around the clock, looking after our beautiful animals that we always put first.

I like to call it a lifestyle choice instead of a hobby for this very reason.

Amateur Dressage rider

What does it really mean to be an amateur owner rider?
  • 5am starts to feed your horse/s, if you’re lucky to not hit snooze on your alarm 5 times and head out to the stables on time to actually have a ride before you have your first coffee and your real work day begins.
  • If by some off chance (or maybe 3 during the week) to hit that snooze button to only have time to go out and feed your horse before going to work. It really sets you in a crappy mood for the work day! Look out co-workers…. Keep the coffee coming.
  • To arrive at work looking like you have been partying all night to have bits of feed in your hair, to mix it up from that helmet hair you rocked the day before.
  • To arrive at work after having a horrible ride to be grouchy at everyone for the rest of the day.
  • Pretending to be busy at work while scrolling through your daily search on Nominate for the upcoming competitions.
  • Talking to your non-equestrian co-workers smiling and agreeing with their boring conversations to only be thinking about your ride that morning, what sale is on at the moment for the latest gear or if the weather is changing and if you put the right rugs on when you left them this morning.
  • Prioritising your wages for lessons and competitions. If you’re lucky perhaps After Pay that new bridle you have been eyeing off.  Then to pay the bills.
  • Getting home late after tucking your horses into bed with multiple carrots after telling them how perfect they are.
  • Arriving home after spending time at the horses just in time to miss out on cooking dinner. (or is that just me!? Conveniently have to have a shower when it’s washing up time too?!?)
  • Spending quality time with your partner watching TV after a day at work to only be focused on visualising  your dressage tests for that weekend or to mentally plan out our competition schedule for the month.
    • Take my advice, only pick your phone up twice during the TV show, otherwise they will eventually realise your mind is elsewhere! Cover blown.
  • Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep you visualise riding down that centreline and tracking left perfectly like in the 2A.

I think it is fantastic that the dressage organisers are rewarding us fellow amateur riders with our own division. Us, what some would call crazy– people who live and breathe the sport who go to this ‘other place’ for the majority of the day to pay for our passion. We live and breathe the sport much like our fellow professional riders. Who we are incredibly fortunate to be inspired day in and day out by their work ethic.

But let’s face it, this is our lifestyle. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The not so perfectly planned year

When I was writing down my goals for this year I was super excited to picture my goal kicking year ahead. I was focused on three areas of my life; training and competition, personal development and professional development.

Recently rereading my post “goals for the coming year” my heart sank a little, because I feel I haven’t achieved not one small part of my goals that I had set out to do. Unfortunately, its life, things come up. I broke my collarbone in May and was out of the saddle for a while, which led me to have a knock-on effect to be a little unmotivated with my personal and professional development goals. Once you feel down and out it takes a while to gain that momentum for the uphill climb.

Once you feel down and out it takes a while to gain that momentum for the uphill climb.

But you know what, after enjoying a glass of wine (or two, or three. But, hey who’s counting ?) I had a thought to myself. The year is not over, I still have time to tick a few of my goals off my list and start to shape my 2019 from here.

The not so perfectly planned year

Coming back into the competition arena after 7 months. Better yet, 209 days ago or 60% of my 2018. (wow sounds a little depressing!) makes me feel a little nervous on the inside. Especially since we have only been back training since July, 66 days or 18.08% of my 2018!

The not so perfectly planned year

I have re adjusted my goals that I enthusiastically wrote down at the start of the year.  Still focusing on my three areas of my life. I might not be writing these down as enthusiastically as I once did at the start of the year, but I know I am not the only one out there who has fallen off the wagon. I can only start to shape my amazing 2019 from here.

Training and Competition
  • Pluck away at our counter canter and canter loops (in the novice 2.3)
  • Play around and get confident with some lateral movements
  • Sharpen our simple changes
  • Attend 3 competitions before the end of 2018. With good confident prelim and novice scores.

 

Personal Development

I’ve commenced the EA NCAS Coaching Course so long ago and have only completed the theory side of the first set of modules! I feel like I have a massive anchor holding me down, a weight on my mind that makes me feel as if I cannot progress. I need to shake this feeling, especially if I want to do what I love! In saying that I am aiming to complete one more section of my course before the end of the year. In hope one tick off the box on the course will lead onto another.

As for the exercise goals I had written down. Well, I haven’t progressed all that far with that! I might leave that as ‘ongoing’. Says the person who puts strawberries in her dessert to justify it to be ‘healthy’ ?

Professional Development

I honestly feel this is the side of my life I am starting to have under control. I absolutely love Dressage Dreamers. It’s hard to believe how an idea sitting down on my laptop watching tv has led me to how it is today. It’s my project, it will change and shape into something different over the coming years.

The Standardbred Showcase has been working super, I absolutely love reading everyone’s stories and sharing them! You can check out the stories here.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has had an unplanned year, would love to hear how you are going towards your goals ? comment or drop me a line!

The not so perfectly planned year