Tuesdays with Tony
I hear this thing called ‘competition season’ is approaching. As a cat, I compete with no one. I am perfection, and I know it. However, I understand things are different in your world. You humans have a thing called horse shows, where you compete for who has the prettiest browband, most silver on their saddle, or most expensive outfit. No wait, that’s not true. You compete for who has the best horse! Oftentimes the most important competition, however, is the one between your current self and your past self. Can you make today’s performance better than your last one? Yep, that was a deeply profound statement from a cat. I am a keen observer of the human psyche, even if it looks like I’m sound asleep most of the time. To prepare you humans for the upcoming competition season, I have prepared Tony’s guide to getting the best performance ever.
Go find a mirror. They’re everywhere. You can even point your phone at yourself and hit the record button if needed. Now, look deep into your eyes and honestly determine your goals for the next year to 18 months. But how do I know if it’s an appropriate goal, Tony? Good question. Goals ask us to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone. Improve upon what we’ve got now, but not go to the impossible. For example, if you and Spot are currently working on how to trot a 20 meter circle, then making the Olympic Dressage Team in the next 12-18 months is probably unrealistic. However, scoring a 65% on a training level test at a recognized show is an excellent goal. Goals must be something you can achieve, or they will annihilate your willingness to try.
I got skills!
I’ve got a goal, I’m good to go. One year from now I will have achieved my goal because I said I have a goal. Yeah, that’s not how that works. Look at your goal. For simplicity (you humans are a simple species), I’m going to stick with the dressage thing. Your goal is to score a 65%. Make a list of the skills needed to achieve a 65% at training level. What are you great at? What do you really, really need to work at? If you can nail a halt from the walk, trot, or canter, don’t spend a whole lot of time on that. If your 20 meter circle looks like something a 2-year-old drew with their eyes closed, you should spend lots and lots of time working on geometry! Making a list of what you rock, what you are OK at, and what you really, really need to work on will help you see how best to achieve your goal.
I mean this in every sense of the word. If you are reading this, chances are you’re a crazy horse person. This means you should probably get some counseling. If you are still reading this, you have now identified some skills you need to improve. Get help to improve them. Go to a clinic, find a trainer, seek out a friend who’s riding skills you admire. Chances are good you aren’t the only one who has trouble with that skill. In our dressage example, riding round circles is really hard. Talk to your trainer (or friend) about where your difficulties lie. Tell a clinician you seem to prefer abstract circles to the round variety, and ask if they have any help for this issue. Keep your eye on that goal. Don’t get distracted and work on your already amazing halts over and over and over again. Work on the things that are holding you back. Practice what you’re bad at.
Keep the Pressure On
When I tell you this next step, I want you to remember this blog is free. That’s right, I give you all this amazing cat wisdom for free. This may be the most important step: Find someone who will hold you accountable. It can be a horse friend, a trainer, a Facebook friend, (probably not your spouse) anyone that will listen to your progress from the previous 10-14 days, your outline for the next 10-14 days, and not cut you any slack on excuses for not achieving. This person will help you ride when it’s dark, cold, and/or raining outside. This person will push you to do more that you ever thought you could. And the best part? You can do the same for them!
No excuses, humans! The weather is great for riding. We have access to amazing talent in Florida for the winter in pretty much every discipline you can do with a horse! The only thing holding you back is you.
Until next week,
P.S. Don’t want to worry about keeping your horse healthy while you two are achieving these amazing things? Sign up for a Wellness Plan now! Save money, have a happy horse, enjoy more time. Click here before our limited slots are gone.