Recently I was informed that the lack of short and long term goals leads to burn out. It was brought to my attention in regards to my private practice for which my only goal since opening in April 2014 has been to pay my bills and remain open. Apparently this fact applies to business, home life and hobbies alike.
Generally with Gem I tend to have little focus. I make about 2 endurance rides a year and only really up the conditioning about 2 months prior to that for peek condition to hit around race day. Afterwards she gets about a month off, more for our relationship than her physical needs. So what do I do with her the other 6 months of the year?
There are some long term goals with her: decade team status which can be achieved at the earliest in 2023 (scary when put in writing!), but other than making/completing one 50 a year that doesn't really account for our day to day lives together. I also want to complete a 100 mile ride on her prior to her turning 20 which gives us 3 1/2 years to accomplish this goal.
I think this is why I tend to lose focus/burn out with her throughout the year which results in long periods of nothingness and loss of overall condition. Now this year was a bit different with her injury, time off and slow return to work, but still the fact that I let her go then bring her back just to let her go again so much can't be all that good in the long run.
That's where some goal setting comes in.
The hunter paces have been a great way to maintain focus this fall and bring her back to work while also working on her mental game with moving out alone, leading, crossing obstacles and handling passing/being passed in a controlled and non cranky fashion. I like the paces and they fit in well with my life right now, however I really don't see being so focused on attending all of them again next season unless I manage to screw up and not get the supporter award this year.
So I need some goals to focus on to keep us working together and not just thinking "Oh no big deal if I don't ride today...I can ride next week" which is basically my life right now and isn't doing Gem any favors.
I really plan on our first 100 occurring Jan 2017, so most of our 2016 is geared towards properly preparing for that.
Goals for 2016:
1.) Finish up the 2015-2016 hunter pace series and earn the Supporter Award. All rides do not have to be on Gem, but I do have to personally attend them all.
2.) Multi Day Endurance ride in the Spring. Can be either two 50s or a 50 and 25. Currently aiming for a ride early April in Jasper, FL.
3.) Help manage an ultramarathon alongside Dusty to coincide with the Ride Between the Rivers Endurance Ride. Dusty was approached about this idea when we were there this summer and we are both super excited. Gem will likely stay home unless someone wants me to bring her along to ride her in the endurance ride.
4.) Get Haley to her first endurance ride. I'm already making excuses for this one, but she can only attend in the summer and summer rides just don't happen down here. The only viable option would be the Moonlight Sandhills ride, but I think it may conflict with the RBTR ultra/endurance ride.
5.) Attend the Run for the Horses 50 at Biltmore in September. Not necessarily as a rider, but to either crew for Dusty again or to volunteer. It is my favorite ride of the entire year.
6.) Complete the Broxton Bridge 50 in November. This is a big deal for me. It is the same ride where I plan to do our first 100 the following Jan. Getting Gem exposed to the trails, learning the camp, figuring out crewing situation etc... will all help ease my stress levels a bit for the January ride when I won't have a crew and will have to figure it all out myself.
7.) Figure out her hoof protection situation once and for all. The April ride and the November Broxton ride will help me test things out. I won't ask her to do a 100 barefoot, but I know the trails are friendly incase something were to fail.
8.) Get the trailer organized. This has been a work in progress for over a year now and just needs to be completed before I rip my hair out. Trying to ease all stress that I can before next January.
9.) Compelte an Equathon. This is kind of a sorta goal in that if it works in the schedule and helps Gem's conditioning then great, but if not it isn't a big deal.
10.) Continue to improve my fitness. I've started to run again and will be adding in some weights and spin classes as able throughout the year.
11.) Dressage lessons. I would love to start taking some dressage to help Gem improve in her movement and make things more efficient for her. I can't afford both lessons and the paces, so this will have to wait until the summer.