This is part one of a three part series being published in Horsemanship magazine (http://horsemanshipmagazine.co.uk/) December 2014, February 2015 and April 2015. the series is written with my good friend Ruth Drake Chapman, a fellow horse woman and enthusiast.
I thought you would appreciate me sharing it here too:
Make 2015 your best year yet….
New Year is the time for resolutions and resolve. How many times have we all made plans for a great year – and how many times have you reached Easter and realised your resolutions are far behind you and nothing has really changed?Well, 2015 is the year that’s all going to change. 2015 is the year you and your horse are going to have your best year yet, and this is how:
“To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
The post-Christmas lull can be a depressing time, but this is the month of crisp winter mornings which are a joy to get out in. So when the weather is good get out and about, enjoy the sunshine. And when the weather is bad, don’t get depressed, but look at it as an opportunity to do some of the things you never really have time for in the summer….
- Get that book out you’ve always meant to read
- Check out clinician’s calendars for 2015 ready to book in as rider or spectator and plan your year
- Start a DVD club with friends and have warm winter evenings watching horsemanship and having fun – share ideas for some fun activities to do this year
- Look out for some clinicians who do horseless workshops – some of the ones on horse behaviour will really make a difference to you and your horse
- Spend time with your horse in the stable or shelter, just grooming and connecting
January can be a great month to lay the foundation of your year
“The word February is believed to have derived from the name ‘Februa’ taken from the Roman ‘Festival of Purification’.
February is a short month, the shortest of the year – and most of us can do something for 28 days. So how about making February your “purification” month? Can you think of something “purifying” to do each day in February?
- Decluttering your horse stuff?
- Clean up your tack room and tack?
- Do a tack swop with friends, which can also make a fun February evening
- Think about cleaning up inside as well as outside: how can we get ourselves mentally ready for the year? From Mark Rashid to Philippe Karl, your mental state is said to have a great impact on your riding.
- Find a mediation or mindfulness course or class
- Find yourself a confidence coach
- Identify the negative things to let go of, and the positive to hold onto into this new year
“March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.” – Thalassa Cruso
Ah the month of frustration; tempting days of spring, mixed with the snow and ice of a winter hangover. But, if we can do something for our fitness each day for this month, we will be ready for Spring when it comes…
This could include simple things like walks in the winter sun, taking the stairs when you can – but let’s take a closer look at being fit for riding. How about:
- Working on your balance: practice walking along jump poles, kneeling on an exercise ball, using wobble boards….
- Working on your flexibility: try yoga, Tai Chi, stretches – any of these make a big difference when you ride
- Working on your core stability: core exercises with a ball, pilates classes, “fit to ride” classes
- If you want to get your horse involved too, find a place to get some lunging lessons, or some in hand/groundwork lessons and you can help your start getting fit too
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare
Well we are already well on our way to a great year: we have built a foundation of planning, and mental and physical fitness. Now’s the time to set our goals for the year. If we set goals in January, they seem very far away, and we are often too ambitious and unrealistic in our expectations. In the comfort of the pub, I can achieve anything….
So instead, let’s wait until April to sit down and set our goals for the year. By now we have done some reading, talked with our friends, had some coaching and worked on our own and our horse’s fitness – and we have an insight into what is actually achievable this year.
How do we set goals?
The first thing I say is don’t do it alone. Goal setting is much easier if a group of you who know each other and your horses well get together and work on this. You can support each other in answering the following questions:
What are you going to START doing this year:
- That will be FUN for you and your horse eg try horse agility, le trec; plan a beach trip!
- That will be GOOD for you and your horse clinics, workshops, courses
- That will MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the longer term for you and your horse eg finally get some coaching on that trailer loading issue!
What are you going to STOP doing this year:
- That will lead to more FUN: eg stop letting people talk me out of spending time with horses; stop worrying about mistakes or things that didn’t work as well as I hoped
- That will be GOOD for you and your horse: eg stop getting angry with my horse when things don’t work out, stop getting angry at myself…
- That will MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the longer term for you and your horse: stop procrastinating and book that trailer driving course
What are you going to CONTINUE doing this year:
- For FUN: eg keep going out on fun hacks with my friends; just hang out and groom my horse for as long as I like
- For the GOOD of you and your horse: keep doing the hard work on keeping your horse fit and healthy, keep buying Horsemanship Magazine (LOL)
- To MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the longer term for you and your horse: keep going with this “best year yet” programme….
More to come in the February issue when we look at what you can do from May – August to keep 2015 the best year yet for you and your horse!
I will post that article after it has been published — so watch this space!