Conquering the Winter Doldrums


Photo by Libby Danforth

Winter has been raging here in Indiana, and has put a literal freeze on just about everything, from pastures to business. It can be hard to stay positive and focused when the wind chills drive temperatures well below zero and riding is either limited to indoor rings or not at all. In the interest of positive thinking though, the end of winter is in sight…well off on the horizon. Days are getting longer, January is about to roll over into February and that means March isn’t too far off either. In the new year, I have spent my time in lessons asking students about their goals. It is important to reassess your goals periodically, and I find the beginning of a new calendar year is a ripe moment for introspection. It also helps us to focus, and gives us purpose and drive to make it through the last stretch of winter. The promise of warm sunny days and riding outdoors doesn’t hurt either.

The questions I ask are simple and to the point. Occasionally, I dig deeper with a client, but I often find that keeping it simple is best. Here is my list of questions:

  • What are your goals for the year?
  • What are your goals for your horse this year?
  • What do you want to get out of lessons this year?
  • What would you like to have accomplished by the end of the year?

I ask students to think before they answer, and tell them there is no wrong answer. If they give me a generic answer like, “I’m happy with what we’ve been doing,” I ask them to elaborate. When you make goals, be specific. Write them down in pencil (proverbial or otherwise)–this gives you permission to change them as the year develops. Be creative, be brave. Do not let your apprehensions hold you back. Consider honestly your capabilities, your horse’s capabilities, your finances, and time. If you have the ability and the resources, go for it! If you get halfway to that goal and realize it needs to be tweaked or changed entirely, don’t be afraid to tweak or change. Goals are not something that is set it stone. They are achievements that motivate us and give us direction. However, we shouldn’t be afraid to change direction if necessary.

My goals for 2014 look like this:

  • Place Samwise in a therapeutic riding program
  • Ride Doc more often, take semi-regular lessons
  • Plan and then plant a large garden that will last three seasons
  • Get Samuel involved in the garden
  • Get Samuel on the horses regularly

My goals are basic this year because I am still figuring out how to balance my family with my business. If I place my sights too high, I will be dismayed when I do not achieve them, but if I don’t look to the horizon at all, I will stall out. I look forward to making headway on many things in my professional life this year, and I hope they will lay the foundation for better things to come in the future. What are your equestrian goals this year?

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