Monthly Archives: April, 2020

Seeking Inspiration and Firm Ground

April 24th, 2020 Posted by Dressage TestPro, General News 0 thoughts on “Seeking Inspiration and Firm Ground”

Here we are in our horsey world with a calendar that has nothing in it apart from blank pages, which let’s be honest is highly unusual for us horsey folk. It leaves us feeling awkward, adrift on an uncertain sea, not ‘grounded’. So how do we get back to somewhere more normal?

I think it is each to his own in that respect. We all need to find our own ‘new’ normal, it will be different for you and different for me. Some of us love social interaction and chatting to people, others find that lockdown brings the  benefit that being alone is now ok and not considered a bit odd.

For myself I have found that whilst I prefer horses to people as lets face it a horse never lets you down, I am also finding that interaction when shopping or on our yard is becoming necessary to keep me ‘normal’ and grounded. That basic human need for some interaction with other people is something we are all missing these days. Even with
Skype and zoom there is still a need for a proper face to face immediate feedback, somehow a conversation over the internet doesn’t quite cut it.

Whilst I was pondering this we had someone help on the yard with mucking out and odd jobs (all social distancing applied!!) and out of the blue some interesting feedback came my way.

As a golf expert Elliot comes at things with a different slant, and was watching me ride Elena with interest. Asking questions during which an interesting ‘off horse’ discussion ensued about the differences between sports but also the similarities in terms of much needed mental strength and skill requirements.

So an example was me talking about changing the arena at home to more accurately reflect the competition arena. I set out plant pots, have people spectating and put music on to give a bit of atmosphere similar to a championship venue. I prepare the horse for the environment as much as possible and when I am at a show I religiously do the arena walks. Elliot talked about Earl Woods (Tiger Woods’ father) who prepared Tiger mentally by distracting him when he was taking shots. He would fiddle with coins in his pocket, cough, make comments whilst Tiger was busy trying to play. He tried to instill that mental toughness to completely ignore any surrounding chatter, heckling, music, and general hubbub.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of having a super quiet arena at home to school in. When I am at home I have the dogs running around the arena, liveries walking past with wheelbarrows and my dad or mum popping around to watch at a random moment. I have to admit that I often curse under my breath at this point! But it is important and useful for my mental toughness and future competitions to be able to cope with distractions and then re-focus on the job in hand.

I know some of you are unable to ride and most of us are unable to have lessons with our coaches so learning may be far from our minds. But try to continue learning whether it is online videos, some mental toughness training or goal setting, it really will help to keep you grounded and reset your internal compass. Think outside the box and find inspiration from different walks of life like I did and you might discover inspiration in the most unexpected place.

Up and down like a Yo Yo

April 16th, 2020 Posted by Dressage TestPro, General News 0 thoughts on “Up and down like a Yo Yo”

I was going to write a blog about feeling a bit down and trying to overcome those feelings. I had even done some voice memos on my phone whilst I was mucking out this morning to remind myself of what I wanted to write.

I was feeling a bit ‘blah’, not lacking motivation exactly, more just having a moment of it all being too much and too complicated and too stressful. You know a bit fragile, almost tearful? I think it stems from the fact that we have no control over our lives and we are at the whim of this virus. The government dictates, rightly or wrongly, what we can and can’t do. All of us have the shadow of finances and not knowing what the next month or more will hold for us.

But then I rode Elena and my mood did a 180 change for the better. Why? Simply because I had a great session with her, really relaxed and focused. I have been taking the time to do some exercises that are in the Tristan Tucker online videos. I am using the exercises to manage the spooking and help her relax. Today felt like a turning point.

The thing is, without the lockdown and the virus I probably wouldn’t have had the time to start exploring other ideas with Elena. I reflected on what is happening now in my little bubble in North Wales and realised I am achieving loads! We are three weeks in and little steps have been taken. The flying changes are much more consistent, the collected work is improving and all the horses look really well.

These steps would not have happened during the competition season. I would have put off doing certain work just in case it affected the tests I was doing, or caused too much tension.

Having no competitions to work towards is also helping me mentally. It has taken the pressure off of me to achieve scores for Pet Plan or regionals, made me think about what I want to do and also what I enjoy doing. This time of reflection then benefits the horses as I am not chasing any competitive goals.

However what I am slightly disappointed about though is the lack of online competitions. The FEI has banned FEI judges and FEI competitors from competing in online dressage competitions unless they are ‘sanctioned’ by the national federations and/or licensed by the FEI. This is because they say that they cannot check the welfare of the horses and ensure that arena footing is adequate, blah blah. Hhhhmmm sounds like a load of ‘whatsit’ to me. The FEI tests are free to download, widely available and used throughout the world, no doubt in plenty of ‘unsanctioned’ competitions. Why get uppity now?

Sounds like they are preparing the way to ask for money or ban judges from online competitions so that they can do their own FEI version in the future…..

So with all this running around rider’s heads no wonder we are all a bit up and down like a yo yo. Thank goodness for my four legged friends to keep me vaguely sane.

Is that Essential?

April 2nd, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Is that Essential?”

How our lives have changed in the past few weeks. The cessation of competitions, daily briefings from the Government, horrendous news on all outlets about Covid-19, and increasing regulation of our lives.

And then this word crept into our daily conversations – Essential. We are living with the dilemma of stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS and what is or isn’t essential that we are allowed to do. Instead of simply walking out the door, getting in the car and ‘popping’ to the shops we now check the surgical glove supply, weigh up how much hand sanitiser will be needed and think about how much energy we have to queue up outside a shop to be let in.

Is it essential that I go to the shops? The government posted that we should only go if necessary and for the shortest period of time. Obviously Boris and cabinet haven’t tried to get a delivery slot at one of the supermarkets recently. You try to get a slot less than a month away, what are we supposed to eat until then? The loo rolls that I haven’t hoarded???

Do you find yourself discussing whether walking the dogs on the road outside is your daily exercise or is dog walking separate to our once a day exercise? Do you rant at the TV when you see some dog walker get stalked by a drone? Do you agree with the police? I’m not sure I do.

Consider this – is it better to walk from your door go to the park and try to socially distance away from 100 others in the park? Or is it better to take a short journey by car (5 miles) and walk somewhere with not a soul around? We live on a little lane yet recently it has become like a mini motorway of families, prams and dog walkers from the local village. On sunny days it is tricky to find a ‘slot’ to walk in without having someone near you. So won’t be doing that thank you, I am considering my health and if someone sneezes you need to be a lot further than 2m away folks.

Yesterday I saw a photo on Facebook of people buying paint for their houses and general decorating stuff. There were plenty of people ranting about how it was non essential. Well hello there! I didn’t look ahead and think in April I am going to have lots of time to re-decorate the house so I will buy in some paint. How is going to the DIY shop to buy paint any different to going to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) to get hair colouring? Both could provide the person with a sense of positivity. Both could help your mental health, isn’t that important too? And so I come to the elephant in the room, or should this be horse???

To ride or not to ride. Some organisations have come out with their interpretation of the government advice and said that they ‘strongly advise’ that you don’t ride. Or as BD put it “Government has not issued any restrictions on riding but we would continue to urge everyone to carefully consider the risks and what is ‘essential’ and not ride.”

So ‘essential’ appears again. What if essential means you need to ride for your horse’s health? What if essential is fundamental to your mental health? Somehow lunging my horses doesn’t have the same ‘feel good’ factor as riding does, no pleasant feeling of tiredness, no mental high when you have a breakthrough. So yes it is ‘essential’ to me.

With all of the restrictions, most of which I totally understand and totally agree with, I feel we are about to take a retrograde step in our development as a species. We have just handed over our entire lives to the police, government and an increasingly draconian state. We have given up our ability to be intelligent and take responsibility for ourselves. A large proportion of us are being paid not to work and to sit on the sofa.

I wonder where this will leave us after Covid-19 has departed. Will we be worried about human contact, have children that lack social skills, be fatter, and mentally fragile. All I would say to you is take charge of your mental and physical health, make thoughtful decisions about exercise and what risks are involved. I suspect that after this is all over the mental health of the nation and the cost of other lives lost might be what we are talking about rather than whether we survived Covid-19.