My last three posts have talked about how demotivating the winter months are, how we’re getting back into training and how seeing my progress has inspired me to maintain training.

They’ve been popular and it got me thinking – why have I suddenly become more motivated to ‘kick on’ and achieve my aims?  The weather hasn’t changed much – it’s still very cold, grey, wet and muddy but I’ve a renewed enthusiasm.  It stuck me that I’ve recently heard a couple of little gems that have stuck in my mind. I thought I’d share them in the hope that they might inspire you too.

#1 – It’s ok to be rubbish at first.

Just as you reward your horse/dog for trying during the first steps of training, I’ve been rewarding myself and taking pride in trying/making the first step towards a goal.  Yes my attempts at medium trot/shoulder-in/leg-yield are a bit pants, but I’m doing it and that’s what counts; each time I try I get a little step closer to my goal.

#2 – Just be a little less rubbish than before

As it says, really.  Each schooling session, each individual exercise, I am aiming to be a little less rubbish than the last time I schooled or performed the exercise.

#3  – The path to a goal is unlikely to be straight forward

It’s highly unlikely that we’ll go from zero to hero, with each attempt being a direct step towards a goal.  It’s more likely that we’ll overshoot in one direction, and then the other.  But with each attempt we learn. Gradually we overshoot less and less until we’ve honed in on what we were trying to do.

The path towards a goal is most likely a zig zag and sometimes we end up further away from the goal than when we started but it’s ok, it’s learning and part of the journey.

#4 – Give yourself time

I’ve also given myself a bit more time. Rather than entering the dressage competition that’s on this week, I’ve entered one that takes place in a fortnight. With the step-up to Novice I am finding that tests often contain movements that I’ve not done before.

My first test of the year, for example, has a change of canter lead through trot on a diagonal, a walk to canter transition and a halt for 4 seconds.  While these movements aren’t a million miles away from our current training, I’ve never actually done them in this format. We’ve been practicing figures of eight with canter  -trot- canter transitions across X, and canter on a named lead on the long sides of the school, so we’ve the component parts, but still we not practiced the movement until now.

We did walk-canter transitions a year or so ago and are something that we still do when jumping but it’s not been the center of my attention and I’ve never done it in the context of flatwork.

Finally a 4 second halt- obviously I practice halt transitions, there has always been a HIS in test and I’ve taught Abbey to have the manners to stand still while I talk to someone/do up my girth/wait for someone else to get one etc but I don’t think I have I ridden a halt transition, held it and then done a transition into medium walk.

#5 – Focus on one thing at a time

I’ll be focusing on dressage for now, it’s my favourite. I’ll still jump at home, Abbey enjoys it and it breaks up the training (it also helps keep Abbey ‘forward’, engaged and thinking about where she’s putting her tootsies!).

I’m returning to doing just the one test when we go out.  Last year I started doing two but I struggled to remember both of them and found that Abbey would ‘die’ on me for the second test. By doing just one, I’ve plenty of time to practice and I reduce the chances of me doing half of one test and half of another!


Together, these nuggets are helping me stay on track and seeing the progress is encouraging me to keep going.

What inspires you? I’d love to hear how you stay motivated during the winter months.