Weekly Training Tip from Kate Chadderton: Staying Motivated in the Off Season

Kate Chadderton is an Australian native who operates her competition and training business in Woodbine, MD, and Aiken, SC. She’s back again this winter to share weekly tips and advice with EN readers. Keep an eye out for a new tip each week from Kate!

Kate Chadderton and VS McCuan Civil Liberty at the 2015 Blenheim Palace CCI3* Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the last thing any sane person is thinking about is competitive riding! Turkey stuffing and tinsel maybe, but not how to shave off two points in the dressage, or how to avoid that pesky rail you seem to have at EVERY SINGLE show. This tip is NOT for the sane person however, and I think we can all agree that most eventers fall into the not-sane category. Otherwise you wouldn’t have clicked on this link!

It’s very very important to have your down time to recover from the show season, whether it went in your favour or not. Personally I find that after two or three days of starting late and finishing early I’m ready to begin planning for the next season. Starting with the calendar, I map out each horse’s and student’s winter/spring season which then gets me really excited and thinking about competing again. Here are some of the ways I stay motivated.

Watching Videos

As a visual learner, I LOVE watching videos of other riders and learning from their successes and mistakes. My horses are in fairly light work in December so this is a great way to mentally stay involved without putting any stress on them. Cross country videos are definitely on my play list, but I find myself watching a lot of show jumping. There are still some great, top level show jumping competitions going on in Europe and I often livestream them.


In the past I’ve fallen victim to the Thanksgiving/Christmas menus and have just worn an extra coat to hide the evidence! Learning from this experience I now make an effort to do some exercise outside of riding. Don’t get me wrong, my plate is always full and I always go back for seconds! But I’ve learnt that if I’m going to overindulge during the holidays then I’d better counteract the effects by working on my fitness. Then by January when the shows start again I’m much better prepared. I know not everyone is lucky enough to start their season in January, most riders aren’t able to start until April or May. For these riders it’s particularly important to stay in shape.


Winter is a great time to catch up on reading (or rereading) educational books. My friend, Packy McGaughn, gave me a book which I have read once and I’m currently reading again. It’s about dressage, so I read it at night time with a glass of wine!

Horse Shopping

Enough said! If having a new horse isn’t enough to keep you motivated, I don’t know what is! Again, I know not everyone is lucky enough to ride multiple horses but you can always dream about a new horse!


For riders who want to stay ahead of the game there are plenty of clinics going on in December and January. Clinicians often focus on gymnastics at this time of the year, which is great for working on parts of your technique which may have slipped throughout the year. It’s also a great time to experiment with a new idea or new trainer without the pressure of actually having to go to a show next week.

Whether your season ended with a win, or with a letter next to your name, it’s worthwhile putting in some analysis and effort towards your next season thru the holidays and winter. It always pays off in a positive way!