Not your average motivational speech
Something I've been thinking a lot about recently is motivation, or lack of. Pandemic, cold, wet, mud, too little work, too much work, too much time, not enough time, illness; there are many reasons that you may feel demotivated right now and they may be the same reasons that someone else feels super motivated! It's ok if you can't summon the energy to do more than throw a bucket of food or some hay at your horse on a daily basis whilst your best pal is riding for an hour a day seven days a week. Like our horses, we are not all motiavated by the same things and we don't all have the same goals or lifestyles.
Someone I used to know often said to me 'you know, so and so has **enter life changing/threatening illness** and they don't complain, look at all that they do' every time that I shared something that was stressing me out or getting me down. At the time, I thought 'oh maybe they're right, I have nothing to feel down about or be stressed about, what am I thinking?!' whilst simultaneously feeling disappointed and perplexed that someone I trusted to talk to about these things didn't sympathise or offer any support. I'd then push the feelings away and try to 'be more positive', on the oustide at least so that people didn't think I was complaining about things that I had no 'right' to complain about.
I've since learnt and accepted that we all have a right to feel what we feel and we also have a right to verbalise that to our friends, in fact if you and your friends don't encourage each other to do this you need to reassess your friendships! (There's a reason that I started this section with 'Someone I used to know'). There is nothing that irriates me more than reading comments on celeb news articles where people are stating things like 'huh, she thinks she's got problems, how can she be miserable when she has all that money!' or 'what right does he have to do a video telling people how affected and lonely he feels during lockdown when he's sat in a mansion' erm guys, having money and material things don't remove your ability to feel nor does it exclude you from being a human. No ones circumstances exclude them from feeling their feelings. The last year has been completely unpredictable and like nothing we have experienced before, everyones circumstances are different and no one can be expected to feel the same about it. So if you can't find the motivation to be consistent with your horse right now and find yourself cursing under your breath and fighting to stay upright whilst wading through mud for the millionth time this week, that's ok. You are allowed to feel fed up and you are allowed to let your horse be a horse until Spring! Our horses' only expectation of us is that we provide them with food and water, some friends and maybe some shelter, they do not care if they do not trot circles in the arena, or whatever you usually do, for the next month. So take the pressure off. You'll find that by doing that it will improve your mood a little anyway and it will certainly improve how your horse feels about you, after all, they notice EVERYTHING! I have to admit that this is what I have found myself doing for the last two winters, it wasn't planned but it was just what was neccessary. And I found that when I took the pressure of 'having' to do something with my horses away, I was spending more time doing things with them a couple of times a week without realising! If your horse comes back in the Spring having forgotten a few manners and needing more time on the ground to find relaxation and focus, that's ok, those things are easily fixed when your horse already knows how to do them. Plus I can always be on hand to help you when the time comes to bring your horse back into work if you need some support.
On the other hand, if you find it easy to stay motivated through the winter or you prefer to continue to working with your horses then thats ok too! If you are stuck for ideas, I certainly have a few in my back pocket that I can challenge you with. There are also plenty of short term challenges around online that can help you to stay focused, the Top Barn 12 week challenge is a great one to help get you through the worst of the Winter because it offers a supportive group as well as lots of ideas of different exercises for all disciplines.
In summary, just do what works for you, don't put undue pressure on yourself and don't allow anyone else to make you feel like you are not doing your horse justice! It doesn't mean that you love your horse any more or any less whether you decide to keep him in work all winter or not. A little time off never hurt anyone!