On Staying Motivated through the Winter Months

The cold outdoors or the cozy indoors–which do you choose? Vermont eventer Lila Gendal shares some advice for overcoming the temptation to hibernate.

Top: Playing in the snow last winter!

From Lila:

Winter has arrived, but not exactly with open arms. In New England, we never got a chance to ease into the cold, the ice and the wind. All of a sudden this season arrived and we are meant to cope. One of the most challenging things about riding and working on a farm in the winter is leaving the comfort and warmth of my house and dealing with the freezing temperatures. Why would I want to go outside and shiver to death when I could very happily and easily sit with my adorable little dogs by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa in my hands? What keeps me going this time of the year? Where do I find my inner motivation, and how do I keep plugging away at this sport, and this way of life when the going gets… chilly?

My dogs roasting by the fire!

My dogs roasting by the fire!

There’s no magical answer here, but rather a few tips that I personally use to help me get up in the morning and get going! Let’s face it: Living and riding in the northern country is not always easy, not always fun, and can be frustrating, but we have to find peace with our situations or stop riding when it gets too cold out. For me, there is no option number two, nor would I want there to be one. So here are a few ideas to help you stay excited about riding and working outdoors this winter…

MUSIC! Seriously, I jam out to music every single time I ride indoors. I am very lucky because I have an indoor ring, and therefore can listen to some tunes. Nothing gets me more pumped than riding to music. I am addicted. Music off=little to no motivation. Music on=time to work and have fun at the same time. I listen to anything and everything! I couldn’t imagine winter without my music!

Things to look forward to in the near future. I am already thinking about and planning my first real outing this winter. There are lots of indoor jumper shows around and this serves as a serious motivator for me. If I have something I am working towards, it helps tremendously. I also am hoping to travel south to North Carolina for a few weeks in February or March. Whether or not these adventures actually happen, at least I have convinced my brain that my horses and I are working towards some kind of goal, which is uplifting and inspiring.

Last but not least, FRIENDS! No matter what, I need to see and hang out with my friends and family–especially when it’s winter. It’s very easy for me to hide up at Tamarack in the winter day in and day out and only hang out with my horses. It’s also very easy to get depressed, feel unmotivated, and experience loneliness in the winters. In order to avoid these feelings, I plan lunch dates, and sledding parties, and baking parties. Anything to get me out of the barn and doing something else with other people helps a lot. Riding five or six days a week is fine, but taking some time a few days a week for myself and spending time with people I really enjoy helps me stay motivated in the winter!

Your turn: If you ride all winter, how do you stay motivated and driven this time of the year?

My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.

V aug jump school!


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