The Winter Struggle Bus

The Winter Struggle Bus

Simon and I have a well established routine this time of year, and by well established… I mean this is what we did last year: work hard all year to horse show, go horse show, end on a high note, pretty much ignore Simon until after new years… and then start all over when he’s sound again.

See, I have plenty of drive and motivation when the shows are looming… but after our year end show ribbons and debut at the 2’6″ I was feeling a little full of myself.


Also, I’m kind of obsessed with Christmas.  All the fun things happen in December, and for pretty much the only time of the year… these fun things don’t usually include horses for me.


I didn’t ride my horse at all during the week of Thanksgiving until my trainer texted me asking if I was lessoning on Sunday.  I like lessons, so I hacked Saturday and showed up Sunday to jump.  Yay jumping!

After the lesson, my trainer inquired my further lessons plans for the week to which I replied “meh” and said we were going to take it easy this winter.


We don’t want to lose all our progress and have to start over next year, do we?  There is a difference in the horse that’s ridden purposely instead of half hazardly.



And… she’s right.

No winter vacation for me.  Although we are taking it slightly easier, there are still lessons and flat rides and counter cantering.  I can’t sit at home and bake every night.


I will admit… finding my motivation has been a little bit of a struggle bus.


Simon isn’t so thrilled either, because our weak area is still flatting and that means lots of bending, backing, rounding, lateral work, counter canter, and lead changes.


All this hard work will pay off in the end though, even if I’m not so enthused about it right now.  The more Simon works the sounder he stays, and it is pretty obvious that starting over after a month break is going to put us further behind than if we never stopped.

I’m just going to have to crank out my Christmas activities around the riding time this year!  How do you stay motivated to go to the barn during the winter?

34 thoughts on “The Winter Struggle Bus

  1. I feel you…. I have no arena at all, not even an outdoor, so when the weather gets crappy, we either bundle up and ride in the sleet, or slip around dangerously with the trailer in the sleet to go to an indoor somewhere. I hate the cold and I hate the wet so I DOUBLE hate when they’re together! The ground sucks and the sleet sucks and it all just sucks! Usually I find that thinking ahead to the spring season – which starts SO EARLY here – gets me motivated enough to hop on for a hack.

    1. We don’t have an indoor/covered, but at least there are lights so I’m thankful for that. Without lights, I don’t think I’d ever ride in the winter! Good thing it isn’t cold that often in Texas 🙂

  2. Gah! First of all, THANK YOU for the Love Actually gif’s. Best. movie. ever.

    Two, I feel you on the motivation, mostly because when it’s dark and cold outside the last thing I want to do is exercise. My motivation comes from wanting to succeed when we debut at Novice in January. But because our next show is over a month away, I’m able to use my rides to focus on single exercises rather than the do-a-little-bit-of-everything type rides that I have during show season. So one ride on lateral work, the next on lengthenings, etc. It takes off the pressure and so far I’m really enjoying it!

    I hope you are able to use the winter downtime to have fun and also get ready to rock come the spring!

  3. This is the first winter in a while where I’ve had to deal with staying motivated and I will say it has been a struggle occasionally but when I’m feeling really lazy I remind myself that just last year I was sitting on an island with barely any horse access at all and that does help keep me motivated.
    I do plan on giving Loki some time off during January and February, though. I’m sure I’ll still ride some but not the 3-5 days a week I’ve been trying to maintain right now.

  4. I wish I had a magic answer, but honestly, this is something I’m bad about myself. Some days it just comes down to putting one foot in front of the other. I have to talk myself through it: now change into breeches, now grab a snack, now walk down to your car, and so on. Driving to the barn in the pitch black in single digits is the worst.

  5. HAHA LOVE IT! Love all of the gifs. I don’t think it’s so bad to take it easy for a month or two over the holidays- a lot of pros let their horses down for a month or so as well. They need to recharge too! But yeah, don’t want to lose all of your progress! I think you have a good plan. I’m kind of FORCED to keep Wiz in work because he’s such an ass (excuse the language) if I don’t… sigh. I loved the .gifs, explained it perfectly! And some of my favorite christmas movies.

    Side note- I tried the counter canter yesterday- and even though I could feel wiz being like ‘what, this is confusing’ he did it to the right for a whole circle, but couldn’t hold it for three strides to the left. Oops! Now I know where his weak side is!! 🙂

  6. I think the cold is the most difficult thing for me to deal with, since it makes me ache. I really thought it would have more of an effect on Ashke than it obviously has had, he was fluid and very up last night. I make a point of going out right after work, because if I go home first, I will never make it out. I am planning on using my pre-paid lessons to keep us motivated during the winter.

    I really miss spring and summer and fall already.

  7. Honestly, I’m a crazy person. And if I don’t go to the barn, the craziness overwhelms me. It also helps that I have a really cute horse and we’re making progress on our goals, so it’s rewarding. I feel it’s important that she see me and have positive interactions with me every day, because she’s a tough horse and the more she likes and trusts me, the better. I don’t ride every day, but I at least go scratch her itchy spots. And now when I get there, she turns toward me and sticks her nose in the halter and is ready to go. I can’t lose that momentum.

    All of that and, well, it’s my job, heh. Don’t show up, don’t get paid!

  8. I actually had a pretty kick-ass jumping lesson last night, so I’m probably more motivated than ever to continue having great rides! Considering I want to be showing over 2’9″ fences by the fall and (hopefully) get into my first jumper class, I can’t afford to be lazy this winter. And I just moved to a gorgeous barn with an amazing indoor arena, so riding this winter in bad weather won’t be an issue. Call me a nerd, but I’m pretty excited about the winter “off season”! 🙂

  9. I find it super difficult to get motivated in the winter – especially when it gets cold. I usually find that if I can con myself into going to the barn, once I’m there I will do something productive.

  10. Dude. You live in TEXAS. You are sooooo not allowed to complain about winter! Next week I will be hauling my ass out to the barn to take care of the ponies in sleet & snow, and maybe get a ride in if the arena isn’t too sodden and/or frozen solid. But, that said, I feel you. I would LOVE to stay home and put “Elf” on and bake cookies and make soup and light every scented candle I own, but when you are the only one responsible for your horse’s training and fitness, you gotta get out there and ride. Just make yourself do it. You’ll feel better once you do!

    1. Yes, and it’s not the weather that stops me it’s more the motivation level. Although when you are used to 80 December days and it’s low 30’s, you get a little shell shocked. You’re absolutely right though, we are the ones responsible for our horses training and fitness!

  11. I’m telling myself that Courage is taking Christmas-January off. We don’t have an indoor and the weather is terrible and I think it would be good to let him lose a little muscle so it’s easier to rebuild correctly….

    That said, he really likes being in work. We’ll see how it goes.

  12. I don’t know I just build momentum and follow it. I’d actually rather be at the barn riding then anything else in my life and that was before things got shitty.

  13. Motivation is a tricky one (says the girl preparing to drive an hour through a snowstorm to get her Thursday night dressage school in!). In the winter, I am absolutely not allowed to sit down when I come home from work. I just change clothes and get straight in the car. If I don’t, the sun will be completely gone before I get off the couch and I’ll never even leave the house! I also have a strict schedule that I try not to deviate from. Monday-Wednesday-Friday are gym/running days. Tuesday-Thursday are barn days. That way, I’m never coming home from work to flop on the couch. It stops feeling like an option, and the regularity of the schedule keeps me from wasting time thinking about my plans.

  14. Totally in the same boat over here! Its freezing here (okay for us Oregon people at least) and it is SO not motivating. I also shared that same thing as far as show season. I usually have a fall time lull where Pony and I just play for the better part of a month going into winter before getting down with the serious work 🙂

  15. Yeah I live in Canada, all your excuses about cold, don’t mean nothing! However that being said I don ride at below -15 C . Or if we do it’s walking and games on horseback to keep us moving. I try to ride atleast 2 times a week for dec and Jan then step things up in Feb. I keep telling myself that I need the rides in crappy weather to make up for the times I’m feeling crappy and can’t ride.

  16. I am not motivated .. I just have to make myself go do it because I feel bad when Henry is locked in a stall all day. My hacks may be a little shorter but something is better then nothing right?

    Keep up the good work girl! 🙂

  17. I LOVE elf!

    This kind of slow down for me, too. My birthday is December 20th, and now my boyfriend’s birthday is December 19th. This year my boyfriend rented us a cabin in the hills for a few days, so that is going to make it harder. Ugh! But, most of my motivation comes from the fact my horse doesn’t get a ton of turn out in the winter. 1-3 hours at most. I feel so bad for her standing in her stall I go and play. Other than that, it’s tough :(.

  18. Nearly alone here … but my winter riding schedule is the same as my summer schedule which is the same as my fall schedule, and you get the idea. (A small note: I do live in California where winter is mild so maybe my view doesn’t really count.) We actually just hit our first cold snap of the year: our low was 30 today and our high was 48. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 20s which is over the top cold for us. Even so, I rode this afternoon (late), and it was 41 degrees.

    I don’t even think about being motivated; I simply have a daily schedule which I follow. I go to work at 6:00 a.m. I get home at 3:40 p.m. I change and get in the car and go to the barn at 3:45 p.m. I feed, clean stalls and ride until dark (whatever the season).

    So in answer to your question, it’s obviously much easier to be motivated if you live in California (or someplace equally as mild). If you don’t live somewhere mild, get on a schedule and stick with it. :0) You’re always welcome to bake goodies and send them my way. I am a great poop scooper and a horribly unmotivated baker! My husband would LOVE you!

  19. It’s hard to stay motivated when it’s cold and dark out, and you either have to haul somewhere to ride or you have to ride in the dark. I have some goals for early 2014 though, and I keep thinking about what a mess we’ll make of things if I don’t get out and RIDE. And I keep reminding myself that SOME work is better than NO work, so even if we just longe for 15 minutes, that’s better than nothing.

  20. I understand! It’s even harder for me to stay motivated since I sent the horses home to the ranch 3 weeks before me… I forget (aka am too lazy) there non saddle time stuff I can be doing. I think the motivation comes from knowing that the ponies need exercise, Christmas time or not!

  21. Just embrace it, that’s what I’m doing! They need a vacation sometimes too, and in a month where half the month is taken up with traveling and holidays, this is as good of one as any. Hang in there and don’t beat yourself up too badly over it, Simon will pick right back up where you left off no matter how much riding you get in.

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