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Stay Motivated for Winter Riding
 By Winniefield Park   •   31st Jan 2016   •   1,349 views   •   0 comments
Stay Motivated for Winter Riding

Winter has arrived. Finally. Weíve been waiting for it, all the while enjoying relatively mild weather with no snow. Our fall riding season was nicely extended, making us want to get in as many rides as we could, knowing the end was coming. But how to keep up the momentum once the weather turns unpleasant? Here are a few ideas.

Set Goals
Goal setting can be very motivating. Consider signing up for one of the many reward programs that help you track the hours or miles you spend in the saddle. Many breed associations have these as well as many other clubs and organizations. Even just Ďcompetingí against friends can motivate you to ride when you might otherwise choose to stay indoors. My mother used to do this in a notebook, but there are apps and spreadsheets that you can use. You could make it a yearly challenge, setting a goal for more hours or miles than the previous year or month.

Or, set a goal to work out a problem. Maybe your horseís halts werenít so square in equitation classes, or your autochange hunter suddenly isnít quite so automatic. Spend so time focusing on ironing out those glitches.

Learn Something New
Learn something new altogether, knowing you have the whole winter with no pressure or imminent deadlines. Books or video are great places to start. Cherry Hillís arena exercises, or any number of videos can be a starting point.

Take a Lesson
Just having to show up for a booked lesson is very motivating. Perhaps you already take regular lessons. Thatís a great way to make sure youíre getting saddle time no matter the time of year. Think outside your own stable too. Take a lesson with a coach who teaches a different discipline than yours. Try team penning if you normally ride in the jumper ring. Take a dressage lesson if youíre a trail rider. Taking a lesson at a different stable is a good way to get a new perspective, learn something new, or even learn to appreciate what you have back home.

Dress Right
Coming in with your hands frozen in the Ďrein positioní is very demotivating. If fact it can be downright painful as you thaw out. Make sure youíre well equipped for cold weather riding with warm gloves or mitts, pants, coat and ear covering. Itís surprising how warm little packet hand warmers can keep you from feeling miserable. Winter riding boots are a must. Riding pants come fleece lined and windproof. Plus there are many layering options so you donít go from hot and sweaty to icy and damp.

Make An Appointment With Friends
If you have friends who also ride where you do, staying motivated can be a simple as making a Ďdateí to ride. Bringing a flask of hot chocolate and a tray of cookies is a nice added reward for keeping your riding date. Take lots of selfies with your horses.

Try an Online Horse Show
Your horse trailer may have a five foot snow drift against it, but that doesnít mean you canít still show your horse. There are some that require video, and some that will take photographs.

Change Your Schedule
Thereís something about the early dark evenings of winter that make you want to curl up in front of the TV right after supper. But think about it. In the summertime, you wouldnít think twice about saddling up at 8pm. Try riding in the evenings instead of waiting for the weekends. Itís certainly healthier than munchies and X-Factor repeats. You might want to head to the stable directly after work or school if thatís possible, so you donít have to think about getting dressed up and going out into the cold a second time.

Be Realistic
If you have to cope with a lot of cold and constant cold, donít be too hard on yourself if you just canít bear to saddle up. Hopping on bareback can make you feel like at least youíve ridden and kept your muscles from atrophying. If riding is just impossible, mentally or physically try some strength training at home to stay toned. Or do some yoga. A good book is Yoga for Equestrians: A New Path for Achieving Union with the Horse which has exercises for both on the horse that can help you stay limber. That way, youíll be ready when the weather is more inviting and you just canít resist saddling up for a ride.
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