Nothing makes me heart sing quite like the start of a new year. Thats not because it’s time for resolutions or a ‘new year, new me’ attitude. Frankly I find that approach a little problematic. I work hard all year to improve myself as a person and rider – I don’t need a new year to do this.
No, my love of the new year comes from a very different place. I love the new year because it’s a time for me to review the goals I’ve set in the previous year, set new ones and plan out my competition schedule. And I guess in a way this also provides me with an opportunity to dream about how the coming year will unfold.
Although saying it aloud still makes me feel a little uncomfortable, I’ve made no secret of the fact that it is my ambition to one day ride at the Grand Prix level. Setting goals and having a plan is essential to help me stay on track to this longer term goal.
Before we jump into 2019 here is a quick recap of how we went with the goals we had set in 2018.
- We qualified and competed at the Australia Adult Amateur Dressage Championships
- I managed to get to the gym twice a week on a fairly consistent basis and my fitness and strength in the saddle improved big time!
- Score 66%+ plus at medium level – we did manage a couple of scores above 66% but these were in unofficial competition. On average our medium scores were ~63%
- Debut at Advanced level – we haven’t started work on the canter pirouettes yet so this goal was not something that we were able to achieve.
- Ride through a test at least once per week – I partially forgot about this one.
- Ride bridleless in a 20×40 arena – we only had a few rides where we went sans bridle last year – I’ll share more on that in a moment.
So why did I not achieve some of these goals? I think there are a couple of reasons for that. I’ve talked before about how an injury Nonie sustained in February and the flow on effect of this derailed our plans and progress somewhat. This was a huge factor in us not being able to achieve all of our goals. I also think that I might have set the bar a little too high, for instance with my goal to consistently score above 66%. Another factor was that some of these goals, specifically riding bridleless in a bigger arena became less meaningful to me as the year progressed.
In retrospect I should have checked in mid year to see how we were progressing with these goals. Had I done this I likely would have been able to adjust them at this time – so I’ll certainly know better for this year.
As a goal setter from way back, it’s probably not surprising that I have a number of goals set out for the year ahead:
- Nonie and I will learn to ride canter pirouettes
- I will master riding in the double bridle
- We will have our first start at advanced level, probably towards the end of the 2019 season. This leads into another longer term goal which I am setting for myself in 2020 which will be to compete at my first CDI!!
- I would also love to qualify and compete at either the State or National Adult Amateur Dressage Championships at medium level.
The 2019 Plan
I have been a big fan of training plans ever sicne I was introduced to them by Pamela Kingwill. For those of you who may not have created one before, the plan essentially outlines what you will do in your warm up, work and cool down phase. You can also break it down further to look at the number of days you will ride in the week and which exercises you will focus on each day to help you achieve your goals.
When Pamela first introduced me to the concept of having a training plan back in 2013 she encouraged me to save copies of them as a tangible way of tracking progress over the years. I recently uneathered an old plan from 2014 – it served as a pretty good reminder of just how far we have come.
Although I’ve been a big fan of training plans, in the past I’ve really struggled to stick to them. In the past when I’ve got to a challenging movement aka travers (my Kryptonite) I’ve tended to drill it, getting us no where meaning that I haven’t moved through the pain as I should or could. My approach to training sessions has evolved over the past couple of years and I’m hoping this will help me to implement a plan and stick to it.
While the competition schedule for Dressage QLD is out (!), a lot of our unofficial dates for North QLD aren’t out yet (we tend to be a little slower up here. Regardless I do have three official 2 day competitions penciled into my diary in May, July and August.
I am hoping that at these competitions I will gain my qualifying scores for state and Nationals If I do qualify for both, I will ultimately have to choose which event I want to attend. Historically State and Nationals in tend to be held fairly close together (this year they were about a month apart) and with almost a 2000km round trip I can’t make Nonie do this twice in one month. And a whole month is way to long for me to be away from Steve, Sailor and my job.
In the months that I do not compete at a traditional competition I will be riding at least one test for Equimind. This will help to keep my arena skills up and provide me with another opportunity to gain feedback which will help me fine tune my training.
We filmed our first Equimind test of the year earlier this week – not the best test we’ve ever ridden. It was a good reminder that I need to be riding through tests on a really regular basis. you can check out the test here.