Last winter, I had the incredible once in a lifetime experience of traveling to Ocala, Florida with my horse. Having a trip and competition planned in the middle of winter was incentive and motivation to ride through the cold, and keep my horse and I going so we were well-prepared, fitness and skill wise, for Ocala. Unfortunately, this winter I am not so lucky. Being such an expensive trip, I do not foresee going back to Florida with my horse anytime soon. So now the question remains, how do I stay motivated and warm in the winter riding months?
I do not need to tell you to invest in solid fleece riding breeches, such as the Tuffrider Ladies' Unifleece Pull-On Breeches, winter gloves, like our SSG Aquatack Winter Lined Gloves, neck warmers, warm socks, and hand warmers. Aside from dressing like (and feeling like) a marshmallow, there are other, more scientific methods, of staying warm in the winter.
Acclimate—Mind Over Matter!
Warm thoughts, warm thoughts. It may sound like I’m kidding, but thinking and complaining about how cold you are, will only make you colder. Furthermore, shivering and chattering your teeth will waste your body’s energy needed to keep you warm. Moral of the story, acclimate your mind to the climate, and power through as best you can. Warm baths when you get home are also great.
Eat and drink well
Just like your body needs fuel to keep going in the hottest of months, your body needs healthy food and plenty of water in the winter to help keep you warm. Eating healthy foods and extra carbohydrates will give your body more of what it needs.
Skip the booze
You’ve probably heard it before, “drink more alcohol so you stay warm”. This is a myth. A warm beverage at the barn will raise your body temperature, but any spiking of the drink will cause the body temperature to plummet. This is a fun fact for tailgating, skiing, and other outdoor winter sports.
Staying Motivated Small Weekly Goals
There is no doubt that my horse and I regress during the winter months. As disheartening as it is to feel your hard work deteriorate, there are small steps we can take to prevent this from happening. Without upcoming shows, we may not practice simple things like centerlines, square halts, and transitions. Pick a new small goal to master each week. It will keep you and your horse sharp, and avoid the pre-show scurry of trying to perfect each basic skill that was ignored throughout the winter.
Keep it interesting
If you are bored, they are bored. It is easy to slip into the winter lull of trotting around the ring mindlessly. Sometimes even getting there in freezing temperatures is a win in itself. However, try to keep the work interesting. Keep a journal for your rides, and write out new exercises to try each week.
Plan Ahead for Spring/Summer
So what if it is February? Start looking into shows, saving money for lessons, planning schooling dates, clinics, and so on. Having something to look forward to will not only excite you, but help keep you motivated. Keeping all this in mind, when it is freezing outside, will help keep you motivated until the spring thaw!
From one horse crazed human to another – Maria Holman