Published by Eventing Connect

European eventing has just about wound up for the winter now,and so begins every rider’s most hated time of the year. The dreaded off season.It’s not all bad though,you just have to know how to survive it by breaking it down into manageable steps.
Step 1) The single most important tool for surviving the off season is next season’s calendar. Frantically checking the eventing website 4000 times a day throughout November from every device you have is totally necessary. Eventually,the relevant association will have the dates up. Print off AT LEAST five copies and laminate. Download to your phone,iPad,desk top etc. If you are genuinely a die hard eventer,you will have the calendar as your screen saver. Keep a copy in the tack room,the car,the lorry,on the fridge and beside your bed. 
Step 2) Work backwards. First event 5th of March 2016? Right. So you will need to have had three bits of fast work,some cross country schooling, at least six days out showjumping,some interminable dressage shows,many lessons in all disciplines,hacking,lungeing and allow an end of season break. Which brings you to today.It can be a good time to utilise your skills with pie charts,line graphs and colour coding, as it is vitally important to stay on schedule. 
Step 3) Take a break. Event riders are USELESS at doing this. All manner of noxious personal habits resurface when you and/or your horses are on any kind of enforced rest. Injury breaks are bad enough but at least there’s amusement in trying to Jimmy off plaster casts with a tyre iron. End of season breaks are like an itch you just can’t scratch. Microscopic pouring over videos from the season and scrutinising your results will leave you desperate to get straight back to it,but the stupid horse needs a break and your husband is whining about never seeing you,so you have to relent. Easier than divorce I suppose,although constantly looking at your watch,twitching slightly and drumming your fingers might fast track that process regardless….
Step 4) A handy distraction mid-offseason is of course,Christmas. Destined to strike fear into the heart of any horsey man or woman’s other half (not to mention the pain in the wallet),Christmas can be a superbly useful opportunity to further preparations for the upcoming season. Only nine weeks away,which is the perfect time frame for breaking in new long boots or saddles,and more than enough time to get the hang of driving a new lorry…..Santa is rarely so generous,but you get my point. Men struggling for gift inspiration for their horsey partners,just cut the crap and buy a voucher for the local tack store. We don’t want you to ‘use your initiative’ or ‘pick something yourself’ for us. We don’t care about fancy jewellery or new shoes ( unless they are the newest state of the art horse shoes,obviously). Tack shop voucher. I promise. Fail safe. 
Step 5) Enjoy it! You will be so busy getting your shit together with training,competing and managing farriers,physios and fortune tellers along with your every day life and work that it is easy to get totally lost and bogged down. Wrestling mud covered feral horses into some sort of prospect for next year can be very tedious. Every productive day is another half percent improvement for next season. You have SO MUCH to look forward to! Embrace each day,as its one less day in your way en route to next season. It’ll soon be time. Until then,would you for gods sake SIT DOWN AND CHILL OUT……


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I am a Sports horse producer based in Ireland. That sounds very grand....the reality is that life here is crazy-trying to fit four horses,200 cattle,a baby and a husband into a day results in tales of the insane and a feeling of lurching through life with no clue what's going on. I have a keen interest in everything from planets to bones to quantum mechanics,and am a perpetual asker of the question 'why?'.

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