It’s technically autumn, but looking at the weather for next week I am reminded that a Northerly wind combined with dropping temperatures are not huge amounts of fun to be riding in.
I am fascinated by self-improvement and the drive that it takes to be successful. Today I was reading an article about Richard Reed who started Innocent Smoothies after I had listened to a podcast last night about him.
Richard has recently written a book which looks at successful people. He has interviewed people like tennis player Andy Murray who puts everything down to practice and not being scared of ripping things apart to get better. Bill Clinton who puts it down to being genuinely interested in people and Michael Macintyre who despite being one of the most successful comedians out there suffers from huge lack of confidence about what he is doing.
There were certain traits which were similar among successful people such as being determined and single-mindedness but I thought it was interesting when he said that even successful people suffer from confidence issues but the difference is that they don’t let them hold them back and that they don’t care what other people think. They listen to those they trust.
The other thing which came across was the following quote ‘it’s the most clichéd thing to say, but no one’s doing it through divine gift, everyone’s doing it through repetition, honing, training. Working more, harder, better, deeper, faster. Keeping going.’
This very neatly takes me back to my starting point of a long winter ahead and keeping your motivation.
It is hard to keep motivated with the dark nights and the colder weather. At the moment I hold my hands up and say it feels like I go to work in the dark, work, go home in the dark, get into the house, go to bed and then back to work. It’s not invigorating. So now is the time to write an action plan. I do not believe in New Year resolutions. As horse people, now is the time to write an action plan as you have the time to achieve things without any pressure.
My plan is to get fitter. I already run, play tennis and attend Kettlercise but I need to be doing more. I am going to sort out my HIITs in the morning/evening and follow the Bodycoach books more attentively.
The horse needs to do more flatwork so I am going to actively stop avoiding it by entering fun stuff and make myself pencil in dressage dates to motivate me to work to a higher standard.
I am also going to make more effort to contribute over the winter. Another piece of advice which came through loudly from the podcast and article was that the more you contribute then the more you gain. It’s something which has definitely paid off for me in the past with meeting new people, gaining new opportunities and learning new skills.
Its time to stop moaning about the inevitable which we know is coming – mud and rain. Instead we need to be working harder and smarter to get ahead and to get better. Be brave and put yourself out there. Choose your goals wisely which will help improve you ready for the first weekend in March when hopefully all your motivation and efforts will have paid off.
Easy things you can do this winter to improve:
Select 3 or 4 top riders and watch You Tube videos – the more you watch amazing people perform the more you learn and can pick up those skills. Just a mere drop in the ocean here: Chris Burton, Izzy Taylor , Phillip Dutton, Michael Jung
Polework – I find polework a bit like making myself do maths. To do it well takes a plan, being disciplined and concentration but the payoff is hugely beneficial. Things that can be improved – trot work, straightness, canter, seeing a stride, rhythm, fitness and strength. Winter is the ideal time to put into doing polework at least once a week.
You Tube Videos – loads of riders have top tips and clinics on video. Really useful to watch and pick up skills.
Work on your mind – Another great thing is to work on mental strength. There are loads of videos, podcasts etc you can access to help with goal setting and confidence.
Fitness – can we ever do enough? It’s not a coincidence that the very best riders now take fitness for themselves as seriously. Work smart. HIITs can be done at home in 20 minutes. Look at You Tube for people to follow.
Attending demos – I love demos. I am attending several in the next few months from dressage riders, show jumpers and the International Eventing Forum. If you cannot attend lots of them are written up about. We have 3 years’ worth of IEF notes on E-Venting.
Schoolmaster Lessons – I love these. A great way to improve your riding and look at you and not just the horse. I have also attended simulator lessons. A worthy investment of time and effort.
Practice your weaknesses – I love to avoid showjumping competitions. I do not enjoy it and I hate waiting around for hours to jump for 2 minutes. This year I am going to double my efforts. I cannot moan about being rubbish at showjumping if I make no efforts to overcome it, or I stick with my comfort zone of hiring courses to practice over and not putting myself under pressure.
Look back at your results – look at them and work out what needs improving and what will get you the biggest bang for your buck. We recently looked back at a friend’s. She had got quicker cross country, her dressage was moving upwards but it was her showjumping which was pulling her back especially getting time faults. This winter is going to be about riding sharper and smarter to practice for next year and avoiding those pesky time faults. Are you having stops cross country at the same sort of issue? Is your dressage letting you down in the canter?
Arena Cross Country – I don’t particularly enjoy it but it has a valuable use. Especially training horses over skinnies and making you ride sharper. Now is the time to put your efforts into training for the next level up with complexity of questions asked so as soon as you get out on grass to cross country school it feels easy.
Horse management – Not sure you know enough about tendons, nutrition or shoeing? Now is the ideal time to make an effort to learn. Books, videos or online information from credible sources will all help and could make some marginal gains in performance improvement.
Podcasts – I love Podcasts. I listen to them on the way to work. It breaks up the monotony and I can often learn something. My current favourites are: http://eventingradio.horseradionetwork.com/ and Eventing Podcast. The recent Tim Price profile on Eventing Podcast was wonderful. I quite like Tony Robbins and I do love TED talks. For something different try Martin Gladwell.
Books – beg, borrow or steal. Make a note of anything which really strongly resonates and keep them in one place. I come back to Ginny Leng’s all the time and its over 25 years old. I have also fallen in love with Michel Robert and Anthony Palmaan. Look on Ebay as some of the older ones are very expensive on Amazon.
Alternatively if you feel completely unmotivated by any of the above, don’t fancy putting the efforts into improving then that is fine. But other people will and if you are a little fed up with being outside the top 10 at a BE event then work hard and smart and it will pay off.