For most of us Canadians, who are stuck up here in the north, the eventing season is complete for another year. Fortunately at Quantum this means Fall Fun Times!! This is the time of year when we take advantage of the last bit of nice weather while the horses are still fit from competition before taking some time off. As you can probably imagine this means a lot of adventurous hacks and, of course, jumping lessons! This is often a good time to have fun in the cross country field, playing over some of the bigger jumps and just having fun, before the footing gets soggy.
Now, this is not to say that all training goes out the window either. This is just a time when we try out new exercises and skill building activities to improve our performance. The fall is the perfect time of year to work on skills you want to improve or difficulties that you had throughout the season. What makes this such a perfect time for these developments is that you can try out different exercises and focus on specifics without the stress of getting things done before the next event. It is also a good idea to do this before taking some down time, because any issues or difficulties that you had will still be fresh in your mind and the horses are still fit to do some additional skill work.
As well as having some fun and making some improvements, the fall is also the time to make a plan for the winter and the coming season. Even though next season seems ages away it is important to have a plan going into the winter, especially if you are planning on an upgrade in the coming season. As much as I would like to curl up with a hot chocolate and watch International Velvet on most winter days, these cold months are crucial for making improvements and developing skills to ensure another successful season.
The winter plan is also quite important for horses at the higher levels who need to be fit from the very beginning of the season. Establishing a conditioning program in the winter can be difficult because of the weather, but is so important to make sure that your horse is keen and fit at his first event, but not so fit that he peaks and declines before the end of the season. This requires some very careful planning and balancing, so it is often wise to seek the advice of an experienced professional.
Going into this winter Breaking Boundaries and I will be working a lot on our dressage. As for some eventers, dressage is our weakest phase but has been gradually improving and will be greatly improved this winter!! How will we do this? Well, for Breaking Boundaries this will mean some training boot camp, and for myself it will mean lots of lessons… Lots! It is sure to take a lot of work and grit to get through the Great Canadian Winter that the weatherman has promised, but with the right amount of perseverance and determination we are sure to get through it and rock all of our dressage tests next season!