Making plans and my struggle with mediocrity

So in my last blog I mentioned that I am a bit competitive. It is my Achilles heel. I am overly ambitious in every area of my life. My goal of being the best, at everything, and the realism of not being able to achieve this, is exhausting. Back in September (2018), I had a bit of an epiphany, I now have more clarity on what I actually want to achieve in my life. I am coming to terms with the idea that I am not able to do everything at the best of my ability and that I need to focus on one goal at a time. My intention is to be micro ambitious.

So my one goal is that I would like to try to qualify for the 2020 Mitsubishi motors cup at Badminton horse trials. It will be a challenging goal because since 2006 I have only done 2 BE events. These were last September, as mentioned in my previous blog.

In September I began to formulate my plan as to how this might become possible. The biggest obstacle in my way was me. I did 2 events last year weighing about 3 – 3.5 stone more than I should be weighing. I have PCOS. The combination of this and several years of fertility treatment and pregnancies have taken their toll. Being this heavy and competing over a longer period of time would inevitably be physically detrimental to Beau. I have worked hard over the winter and have lost 30lbs and I am pleased with this progress so far. I want to lose another 14-20lbs ideally. I am working on becoming fitter, stronger and more flexible. On Saturday mornings I do parkruns with my eldest son, my husband and the two youngest boys in a double buggy…. I say this, my husband is currently injured from a trail run he did about 3 weeks ago, but he normally does the buggy running. It is only 5k but I just don’t have time to be doing further and I only run once a week nowadays. In the past I have done significantly more running up to half marathons. As previously mentioned, I am ridiculously competitive, but sadly really quite terrible at running. Completing organised runs partially filled the hole that riding had left for some of those years when I thought I couldn’t ride anymore. I suppose this statement isn’t entirely true, it wasn’t that I couldn’t ride, it was more that I had thought I wasn’t able to ride competitively at a level that I found acceptable anymore. I was wrong.

In addition to being aerobically fit, I have been working on my flexibility and core strength. In January I started to do 10 minutes Pilates or Yoga before bed. My body is a complete wreck. A combination of the accumulative effects of previous riding injuries, SPD during pregnancy and 4 caesareans has left me with significant pain and weakness in some areas, in particular my core. I used to go to Pilates but with 4 children and the youngest having only just turned one, I do not have the time. Instead I use you tube tutorials. I was doing really well with reasonable consistency throughout January, then in February my baby had sepsis and was in hospital for nearly a week. This set back a number of our plans and I haven’t really got back into the routine of doing it every night. My baby recovered (thank goodness, it was incredibly stressful for all of us) and despite another little stint in hospital this week he is (hopefully) fine.

The difference between being the competitive rider that I was in my early 20’s is considerable. Back then I had the time, whereas now I have to work around having 4 children and a full time job. I am fortunate that I now have the facilities at home that I would have given my right arm back then to have had. It comes at a price though because there would be no way that I could work part time even if I wanted to. The balance and compromise between having the time, the money, the facilities, the horse, the motivation and desire to compete have never quite lined up, but one thing is for sure… I bred a horse to event, he is now rising 9 with low mileage and if I wait 5 years until everything it easier in my life, then I will have missed my chance.

So with me in a somewhat improved condition both physically and mentally, I am not too far off being ready to do some things on Beau. Now I haven’t even mentioned my work on him over the winter and the reason for that is because we have done very little work actually together. I know all of the areas we need to work on and am addressing these a bit at a time. It has meant we have missed the start of the season but with my little one in hospital and the annual round of events being abandoned at this time of year, I’m not too concerned.

Beau has had a bit of weakness on his left rein since he was young. Among many different reasons as to why he has such low mileage, one of them was that we knew he would be a fairly big boy. He was broken and ridden away aged 4 and we did enough with him to do BYEH classes at Gatcombe and Hartpury (ridden by my friend) before turning him away. He threw a splint on one of his forelegs so he didn’t do too much as a 5 year old (and I had a baby that year too) but did a couple of 80t’s and a BE90 at the end of the year. As a 6 and 7 year old it was like he had hit puberty and he developed a real attitude at various points. Looking back now I can see potentially a couple of reasons that might have contributed to this – hopefully things that over this last winter that we have fixed. At 8, once I was back riding we had some fun and he mentally was in a really good place.

Over the winter my aim was to improve his strength, forwardness and straightness- but I knew I wouldn’t have sufficient time to keep him in full work. I had his back, teeth and saddles sorted and worked him regularly on the lunge and rode at weekends. He’s loads better now. I have also treated him prophylactically for stomach ulcers because he started chewing wood and became a bit arsey when being ridden. This has made a real difference.

Anyway, the plan is to now get him fitter through incorporating more fast work and working together to achieve a more balanced, forward and accepting picture of harmony. My next blog will layout our plans to prepare for our first outings of 2019.

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