Reflect on 2019

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

I think this time in between Christmas and new year is a great time to reflect on your achievements this year before you start planning your 2020 goals.

Hiave you done some big stuff this year with your horse this year?

Won a big class? Qualified for a big event?

Perhaps you took up a new discipline or bought a new horse?

What about other stuff? Did you get a new job or do something mad like a sky dive?

Perhaps it’s something simpler like you managed to deals with your confidence issues better this year, stuck to an exercise habit or you made more time for friends and family.

These are all achievements that have contributed to your happiness this year so it is important to acknowledge them. 

I’ve grown my business with new classes and clients this year and  I’ve done two new qualifications. 

I started the year with one pony out with a serious injury, one in rehab for  minor issues and the other with a vet saying she was dangerous and I should consider having her put to sleep. I’m ending it with both injured ponies back in work and the other not being quite so scary anymore. 

Then I’ve got back in the gym properly and taken up Olympic Lifting. Orla and I also finally took up agility this year too-she’s a natural. 

Looking at this I realise how much I’ve achieved this year and if you’ve been with me on this journey you will know how many ups and downs there were along the way, and how many times I could have quite easily have thrown in the towel and swapped it for an office job and pet hamsters! 

Amongst my clients we’ve lost horses, gained horses, had lame horses, prize winning horses and lots of firsts of everything from getting on board to eventing. It’s been so important to have each other to remind us of how far we’ve come when at that moment it feels like we’ve gone nowhere at all.

So, before you start planning 2020 look at what you achieved in 2019. Be proud of yourself for those achievements, and then look at what you didn’t achieve and ask yourself why? Did circumstances just throw you off course (injuries and illness etc) or did you just not want it hard enough? 

This will make planning 2020 a little clearer.

I’d love to know what you’ve achieved with your horse this year.

Time Saving Rider Fitness

Last week I said you should be sticking to your exercise habit as much as possible so here’s some Inspiration to help you out.

I know you might be thinking “ but Nicola I’m already pressed for time with a horse, job, family as it is” Firstly I’ve got classes full of ladies with the same commitments and they turn up for an hour every week. Also I heard a podcast with German Dressage Rider Jessic Von Bredlow and alongside riding 5-7 horses per day and having a child she fits in a couple of rounds of Sun Salutations every morning- she does about 3 rounds each side and it takes about 4 minutes so no excuses. If you want to follow suit the here’s a Sun Salutation video for you to follow along to. Sun salutations are great for a full body stretch out and promoting symmetry.

However if you want something a little more like gym work here are a couple of options you can still fit in to 4 minutes.

Pick 2 exercises and set a timer for 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds. Alternate the 2 exercises each round so you will do 4 of each. That’s 4 minutes exercise you can make as tame or heavy as you like.

No equipment:

Squats - Press Ups




KB/DB Swings

Weighted Squats 


Single arm overhead press

Single Leg Deadlift 


Pure Cardio option.


Kb Swing


Lunge Jumps

Mountain climbers 

Shock Absorbing Ankles

Whilst I’m not a huge advocator for putting too much weight in the stirrup (if you press down you’ll pop your seat up….. its physics) we do still need a connection to the stirrup and the ability to absorb the movement of the horse through our lower leg and ankle. Being unable to do this causes our lower leg to flop around and essentially be ineffective.


There are two elements to being a good shock absorber. 


The first one is the mobility of the joint to move freely. If a joint is stiff and restricted the movement of the horse becomes an impact -think hitting a wall rather than an absorption of force such as hitting a boxing pad.


To mobilise the joint is very simple, just making circles in both directions aiming to take the joint through its full range of motion each way.


Secondly we need to ensure the joint is not restricted by the muscles attached to it. This means stretching the calf muscles.


I like this kneeling stretch as it hits both the big calf muscle (the Gastrocnemius) and the often forgotten smaller muscle below it (the soleus). 

Now they are mobile we need to strengthen them.

The muscles around the foot, ankle and shin can be strengthened using a resistance band to pull away from the outside of the foot and then the inside.

Then having a strong set of calves can help so simple, slow, controlled raises off a step can do this.

Then to up the ante, some instability work on a balance pod (with no shoes on). Just trying to stand on one leg on these can be a challenge, but once you’ve mastered that you can add Single Leg Deadlift and Squats….

Plan a Healthy Horsey Christmas

December is here so it’s officially Christmas. 


This time of year can be both a blessing and a curse for horse owners. If you’re off over Christmas this can give you some extra time with your horse but the run up with all the Christmas parties can be a bit hectic. 


If you’ve got competitions coming up then it can be helpful to plan in your schooling sessions now and stick to them like business meetings. 


If you don’t have anything important coming up then it may not be a bad idea to take the pressure off yourself and give your horse a break. 


So get your diary out now and put in your schooling sessions, taking into account social events, hangovers the next day etc and you might be surprised at how easy it is to fit in 2-3 sessions across the week with a bit of planning, even if it’s just 20 minutes on the lunge or 10 minutes groundwork.


The same goes for your own exercise regime, just 20 minutes a couple of times per week will keep you ticking over. If you want to do the ultimate horse owner life hack, long rein your horse for 20 minutes with plenty of trot work in there and you’ll have had a decent cardio session too! 


Then there’s all the extra eating and drinking to contend with. If you don’t want to hit January feeling like a Christmas Pudding then I suggest employing a sensible attitude to eating and drinking. I’m not saying you can’t have any of the tasty food but I promise you that eating your own body weight in mince pies won’t give you the energy you need to make it through all those parties. Also waking up in January with an extra half a stone to shift is just no fun.


So at least aim for a little balance this December. 


Whilst I can’t banish all those treats from your office I can help you plan how to manage them. Back in my office days I got around this by insisting my secretary did all of the coffee making so I didn’t have to go near the treats,  Obviously this showed no regard for my secretary’s health but it s every woman for herself! This of course is not a viable solution…….


Firstly make sure you have your own healthy meals and snacks with you so you aren’t reaching for the chocolate because you’re hungry. Secondly be realistic, you aren’t going to abstain completely but you can limit yourself to one treat per day. So maybe one mince pie or a couple of celebrations instead of your usual afternoon snack is a good way of a having a treat without it being a month long blow out.


Then there’s the alcohol conundrum. Now this stuff appears to be the only advice anyone ever takes on board from me so here goes!


Unfortunately there is no getting around the fact that alcohol has a high calorie content. You can switch to light beer, low alcohol wine but let’s be honest it doesn’t usually taste as good! So, just try not to have a month long drinking session, have some days off and save your drinking for your socialising not just for your regular Tuesday.


Here’s a couple of top picks though if you do want to watch your calories.


Champagne-90 cals a glass = winner! Basically fizzy wine tends to be lower calories than other wine so that’s essentially permission to pop corks.


Spirts such as Gin, Vodka and Whisky have a calorie content of around 100 calories, it’s the mixers that add calories so stick to diet mixers or soda water and you’re saving hundreds of calories. The supermodels current drink of choice is Vodka, lime and Soda so of its good enough for them…..


I’m imagining you’ve all stopped reading now as you’re already on route to the bar…..