Guest Blog post # 67: "Winter Workouts" by Suzanne Adams

Winter Workouts

“Should you find a wise critic to point out your faults, follow him as you would a guide to hidden treasure.” Buddha (really, it is a Buddha quote, no fooling!)

Once again I found myself at another, "Give-Peace-a-Chance-Breathe-Deeply-Envision-a-Perfect-Ride" sports psychology seminar focused on Anxiety in the Rider.  Yes, horse related practices once again... 
Always good to look at things again!
I signed up to support the New Barn Girl 'cause I've been to every training, every seminar, therapists, energy healers and I know how to do TFT/EFT, meditate, take rescue remedy...  I'm all set with the Anxiety issue... no need to go for me....  All set!  
 Then, at my last jumping lesson, I looked at my ever-patient Eventing Trainer and said, "Um, I guess I need the clinic for me... huh?!"  She just shook her head and said, "You really need to ask?"  Sigh...
Anxiety happens...  And, it happens to everyone...  And, it can be good if appropriately evaluated, and embraced.  It can stimulate, protect and yes, paralyze.  You just gotta figure out how to deal with it and how to make it work for you.
So, she gave us an Anxiety Scale for Training (doubt that is what she called it).  If you are always working in the 1-4 range, there is no growth/training - you are basically status quo.  Training takes place in the 5-7 range - there is stress but you (horse and human) are open and able to learn/improve.  
If you hit an 8 - 9, your body reacts and your brain begins to work on survival mode - Training/learning does not happen.  If you hit a 10, you are in survival mode and reactions are most likely instinctive.
 The goal should be to ride more often in the 5-7 range and if you hit an 8, back off - rinse and repeat.  Oh, she did say that riding in the comfort zone is fine, just be aware of it and what it is.
Looking bold but not so much!
So Ms Maisy, let me introduce you to Winter Work.  You see, my love, left to our own devices, we've been in the comfort zone rarely kicking it up to a 5.  Our Trainers have been good enough to push into the 5-7 range but, really... how often is that?  I believe that we've, kind of, settled into the riding version of a big comfy couch clutching a glass of warm milk and watching re-runs on Netflix.  
So Ms Maisy, our comfort level is set at a 7.  I promise you that we will back it down if you're stress level kicks into an 8 due to the high winds and pelting debris against the indoor wall or if all your friends leave the indoor at once.  Yes, we will push ourselves out of lethargy while being clear that our plan can be changed where appropriate.  But, Ms Maisy... think 7!
 And, maybe, the next time we jump, we've conditioned our bodies/minds to want to be at a 7 and, crossing into an 8 will be a mildly uncomfortable memory...  Wouldn't that be nice?!


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