Friday, December 26, 2008

Motivation, or, Know Thyself

First off, apologies for the long wait -- all my ambitious plans to post once a week were squashed a little bit when I got stuck away from home for almost a week due to weather nastiness.

Anyway, here I am.

Today I want to talk about motivation, which is always a big subject in the winter for me. I'm swamped with schoolwork, I'm working to pay for the horse, it's cold and windy and rainy, and it gets dark at 4:30. All this combined means that sometimes I'm dragging my feet to even get to the barn, let alone find the energy to ride after I've mucked the stall.

So, over the years, I've learned how to give my energy a little boost right before I go out to the barn so that I'm more likely to want to ride.

For me, the most effective is reading about horses and training. I have always been this way: learning has its biggest impact when I'm absorbing it by reading. I get excited by training ideas, I get inspired to try things.

So, first in my arsenal is to go read, whether it's a horse magazine, one of my numerous training books, horse blogs, or one of my favorites, the Eventing or Dressage boards in the COTH Forums. Usually I can get inspired to go ride even if I don't latch onto a specific idea, though I often do grab one idea and use it in my ride. I've thought about keeping a notebook tailored to my own preferences and filling it with simple exercises to do throughout the ride -- cavaletti work or just certain things to focus on, but with ride lengths kept in mind. Has anyone done that sort of thing for themselves? I know there are books out there with that purpose.

If I've got the time and I'm feeling tired, I'll just take a nap about an hour before we go out. Simple, but this has always been effective for me. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, if I take a nap, I'll feel a lot better.

If I think my motivation will wane by the time I set foot in the barn aisle, I wear riding clothes - breeches, riding shirt. Since I normally ride in jeans and whatever t-shirt/sweatshirt I happen to be wearing, the breeches help get me in the riding mindset.

Finally, I'll try to grab something to eat and drink right before we head out. Ideally you want carbs: sugar will give you a temporary boost but that comes with a drop in energy later. Something like a couple pieces of whole-wheat toast will usually do the trick, or an apple with peanut butter (though the apple does have natural sugars). And in the winter, a nice cup of hot tea never hurts.

When winter motivation is hard to come by, I've learned to just take what I can get. If I suddenly get the idea that fine-tuning some groundwork and longeing would be nice, then I do that. It's easier to do something I'm excited about, even if it's not necessarily riding, than to try to force myself to do something else.

So, now it's your turn. What do you guys do to keep yourself motivated, especially in the winter? I'd love to have more tips to use when I'm feeling lazy!


clara said...

well i usually just think of my horse and thats enough moitvation i need lol. and i find that when i am stressed riding helps me relax and have a little while of peace

Stelladorro said...

I've found there is really no way to get myself motivated unless I schedule ahead so I feel obligated to go out. Whether it be taking a lesson, or letting some of the younger kids have a ride on one of my girls, I'm more motivated if I've made the plans to be out there and I can't back out if someone else is relying on me. In the winter the horses don't go out if the pastures are wet or icey while they're at the training barn, so I'm also more apt to go ride when I know they're not getting any other time out of their stall.

Leah Fry said...

Like you, I get excited if I read something appropos and really get it, and it's something I feel confident I can do myself.

manymisadventures said...

Stella, that's really what keeps me riding sometimes - I feel bad that they're so cooped up in the winter.

Plans really help me stick to my guns, which is why I've started mapping out a weekly riding schedule. Hopefully this way I'll be riding about 4 or 5 times a week, rather than 1 or 2 ;)

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