Do You Have the Winter Blues?

Why not make a good off-season plan for your horse and do some goal setting?

Today it is the end of January and so many of my horse friends are flooding Facebook and Instagram with their distaste for the long cold winter days and nights that hit us this time of year. It is very difficult to ride like we want to when the temperatures are below freezing and the snow drifts are high. So, what can we do besides complain?

I am a firm believer that if you are unhappy with your situation, do something about it! Do you have to go buy a property in Arizona? No—unless you want to. Even in the frozen tundra of the northern states there are things you can be doing in the off season to help your outcomes during your regular season.

Set goals and write them down

Where do you want to be this next year? What is your current one-year vision? Do you want to consistently win money in the 1D? Do you want to qualify for your local amateur rodeo association or your WPRA circuit finals? Do you want to qualify for the American? Or get your colt patterned and cruising through the pattern fluidly. Whatever it is, set the goal and work backward from there.

Set 90-day milestones

Maybe your horse has been on vacation since the holidays; set up a goal to get back on and start reconditioning him. Maybe you need to drop some weight and get back in shape; set a weight loss goal and start an exercise regimen. If you need to get a coach or workout buddy, do it! There are lots of resources available through online or personal coaching. Your horse will thank you for riding better and feeling better!

Realize what your biggest obstacles or challenges will be and how you will handle them

Will the weather be a factor? Maybe you get a plan to ride in an indoor a couple times a week when you can’t ride outside. Finances. Is money a problem? Come up with a budget and other ways to make money to support your horse habit. Maybe you can help set barrels at the barrel race or find a traveling partner to split costs. Maybe you can take in an outside horse for extra income. Or pick up a second part-time job cleaning stalls. Maybe soundness was an issue last year; get to a vet and get it figured out NOW! Often these issues don’t just go away with turnout. Have your horse examined now and come up with a good game plan to get them resolved before the season starts.

30-day objectives

What will you accomplish in the next 30 days? Drop ten pounds. Work out daily. Ride three days per week even in poor weather. Call the vet and get a checkup scheduled. Have them do a thorough exam with flexion tests. Let them know what problems you were having, such as horse ducking out at second barrel, running up the fence, stalling out on the backside of the barrel, etc.

Decide what three essentials you would like to accomplish in the next seven days

Download a fitness app for your phone or find a good workout routine and order it. We use a Beachbody workout routine—which also allows you to get a fitness coach for free! Review old videos and take an objective look at where your horse could be more fluid in his run. Find drills that will help fix the old issues you had. Call the vet and get a rehab and reconditioning plan scheduled out.

To get you started, I am including this 90-day sprint that I have adapted from a friend to help you accomplish your goals. Download it and use it every 90 days to keep you on track with your goals.