Now, is the ideal time to have a think about what went really well and what things need to be worked on. If you can, then the ideal person to do this with is your regular trainer who should be able to have a much more rounded view of you. If you cannot do it with your trainer then look to trusted friends, family or advisors.
The starting point should be an honest appraisal of your season. I break it down into the following:
- What Went Well – what went well – it can be anything but it has to be positive and it does not need to be competition related. One of the things that went well for me: improving my stress levels by giving myself 2 1/2 hours before dressage rather than 90 minutes.
- Achievements – these are for the things you achieved again they do not have to be competition related. A horse standing on the box patiently would be an achievement if they had previously been difficult.
- Lessons Learnt – I have a few, from always looking for the finish flags, to giving myself more time to changing my warm up.
- Things to Think About – for me it’s about how do I improve my canter work to stop dropping marks, to how do I get my horse fitter as he definitely needed more fast work. They are supposed to be a positive look in detail, and for you to find answers that are possible and practical.
Try and limit yourself to about 8 at the most as these need to be clear messages that you can take with you on improving.
I normally jot down my thoughts on a piece of paper to clarify them.
While I attended UKCC3 training, Caroline Moore had an excellent guide to being able to look and analyse yourself. The aim is that every quarter of the year you should fill this in alongside your trainer and use it to anaylse your strengths and weaknesses. It should be a positive and open experience. The below can be adapted for your own purposes as I appreciate outside pressures like work are not mentioned on this sheet.
Try to approach the whole thing honestly and if you cannot do it with your trainer then look at doing it with trusted friends or advisors. The trusted friends should add balance to the whole approach if you are very hard on yourself!
The second part of this analysis is to look at the bigger picture and set your goals.
(Excuse the spelling mistake it’s not my form!!)
These goals should be realistic and if you are working alongside your trainer while filling these in, then they are an ideal communication tool to discuss honestly the way forward and come up with a clear path to achieving your goals. It is easy to hide your head in the sand and be in denial about your goals but you will have a better chance of achieving them if you are organised and systematic in your approach.
With the misery of winter approaching us, now is the ideal time to work on those things that need polish and to look back at the season in a clear and positive manner. I am as guilty as the next person about wailing about how rubbish I am and how things are never going to get better, while forgetting about all the successes and achievements I have had like moving up to Novice, jumping Newcomers confidently, lowering my dressage scores into the mid 30s, Improving Sjing warm up etc.