JANUARY…It’s go time people! Traditionally January is the month that I start crunching all kinds of numbers in an effort to prepare my clients for the reality of a rapidly approaching show season. I’ve never been a fan of math, but as the show dates and schedules start appearing the little calculator in my head starts whirling in an effort to figure out exactly how I’m going to whip everyone into show season shape in such a short period of time! Over the years I’ve found one of the most productive ways to light a motivational fire under the butts of my riders and parents is by tossing a few numbers in their general direction, it goes something like this;
16…That’s how many weeks we have until the first week of May and most people’s official start to the summer show season.
Let’s assume that the average rider takes a one hour group lesson per week. That’s a whopping 16 hours in the tack between now and your first show! If half of the lesson is flatwork and half is over fences, that’s only eight hours of practice for each in TOTAL between now and spring! We also need to consider that the average rider is participating in a group lesson which means they are sharing the over fences time with approximately three to four other riders. If you take that into consideration it means your over fence time from now till may is actually closer to the 4 hour mark. Are you panicking yet?
Many riders looking to fast track their progress opt for two shorter half hour private lessons each week to optimize their rides. This gives them increased one on one time with their coaches and hopefully increases their competitive edge in the show ring. More individual coaching time is definitely a great idea but, at the end of the day it’s still only 16 hours of ride time between now and that first show. Divide that in two for your flat and jumping phase and we’re back to… You guessed it, a quality eight hours between now and your spring time debut. That’s eight hours to nail down, straightness, rhythm, timing, stride length, not to mention, finding a distance, landing, regrouping and getting that lead change. And don’t forget to multiply that by eight because… one jump does not a course make!
This is why most of us hate math! Theirs no getting around the numbers. No matter how much we’d love to shorten the winter and rush the onset of spring, the little calculator in my head says it’s simply not a good idea. If you want to be properly prepared for your first show you’re better off trying to find a good accountant who can fudge the numbers and get you more hours of ride time with fewer hours of winter. Those are some numbers I’d be happy to tabulate!