“1% More” is a blog series in which World Equestrian Brands-endorsed and trainer team riders give us one booster tip that will help us to improve our competitive edge by 1%. As any true athlete knows, all of those 1%s add up to significant results.
It’s January! Time to set goals and make big plans for the new year. If you are lucky, you have already or are getting ready to head down to Florida for the winter season. But what about the rest of us? How do we work towards our big goal horse show of the year when our ponies are fat, hairy, and covered in snow?
We sat down with 5* event rider Woodge Fulton to learn how we can approach 2023, even if it’s not yet time to hit the ground running. Click here to read the full blog on the World Equestrian Brands site.
WEB: Thanks for sitting down with us, Woodge! We’d love to chat a little about what happens when we start setting goals in January that might be months away, especially if we happen to not be headed somewhere warm to get a leg up on the competition.
WF: I think this tends to attract a type-A go-getter, goal-setting mentality, which I think in a lot of ways can work to our advantage. I think we want to be careful that our horse has no idea it’s January 1. And so you just want to be careful that we weren’t having a nice holiday and we had Christmas, and we’re getting on maybe two days a week and hacking around. And then all of a sudden, January 1 comes and there’s a big wave of publicity about the New Year. And everyone on social media down south is jumping big and galloping fast and your pony is a little fat and hairy. I think it’s really easy to sort of lose sight of your own goals and what your milestones are, and A), get discouraged and then B), the tendency would be to push too hard because it’s January 2 now and we’ve got big plans. We don’t want to break anyone in January, that’s for sure!
WEB: We don’t! So what can someone do if they’re sitting in a cold place, thinking about what to do for all of their big goals and they’re not going to Florida?
WF: Walk! I think walking is underrated — it’s boring and it’s especially not much fun to do when it is freezing. But get some heated gloves and some heated socks, and if you have a safe place to walk on the road and it’s not super icy. Just getting out of the ring and going and walking until you freeze to death is a good place to start!
And then also create a plan week by week by week for your horse’s fitness so that way it doesn’t come March and you haven’t even seen your dressage saddle in three months. There’s no reason you can’t walk in your dressage saddle and there’s no reason the horse can’t walk on the bit. There’s no reason you can’t do little lateral stuff as you’re walking. But I think those bite-sized pieces every single day adds up over time.
I think on the flip side of that, just being mindful, too, of the day you’re having — if it’s negative 40 and everything’s covered in ice, maybe just take the blanket off and groom your horse.
I think social media is great in a lot of ways, and it opens everyone’s eyes to different ways of learning, and you’re able to see everything. But on the other hand, everyone is only putting their best work out there. So while it may look like Susie Q in Ocala is training from sun up to sun down every single day, that doesn’t mean that’s your program or that’s going to work best for you and your horse.