Good bye Blue Monday - See you next year?!

Alright, so this is Blue Monday 2013? In 2005, psychologist CliffArnal published a formula that was supposed to show the most depressing day of the year. That day is depending on things like weather conditions, debt (just heard today on the radio that many people here in debt for their Christmas presents expenses now being delivered in form of credit card bills), time passed by since Christmas (I remember as it was yesterday, the Christmas tree still in my living room) and the, for most of us, fact that we don’t like Mondays (Tell me why…). His (maybe not that scientific´?!) formula showed that all that comes down to the third Monday of January – so, today! Let’s warm-heartedly welcome BLUE MONDAY!

Around this time of the new year you may also realize that your New Year’s resolutions do not work out as planned.  

Time for some motivation on Blue Monday ;)
Anyway, whether there is such a thing like Blue Monday or not: The new year is now almost three weeks old so let us check where we are with our resolutions and how to keep on track (take a look at our resolutions
10. Keep the level of ambitiousness.
9. Make training as diversified as possible.
8. Work more with poles and ricks.
7. Develop a good working canter.
6. Improve my core muscles.
5. Work on counter canter and simple changes.
4. Go to a horse show in a foreign country.
3. Achieve a proper second level performance.
2. Finish the necessary points for the next license.
1. Go for next show level at the end of the season.

For me, resolutions are going pretty well. In the last few weeks we trained only four times per week though, but with February approaching I am trying to bring that number up again. Thanks to mild weather conditions,
keeping the resolution of staying motivated is not as a big issue as thought. It is working out pretty well – and with days getting longer again (light until 5 already!), I am even more motivated – just hoping that winter is not waiting around the corner.  What the status quo is of point 6 on the list, I will tell you later this week. 

Anyway, what can we do to make the best out of Blue Monday? Marijke de Jong from has put together a list to beat Blue Monday (

I added my own thoughts to the bullet points – don’t let the Blue Monday grind you down!

1. Never give up!
I completely agree with Marijke when she is saying that when you quit you never really wanted it. One bad day should not destroy the work you have done so far. That’s also true for me: there are  five good days in a row and then you have that one day when nothing seems to work out. You cannot avoid these, it can be that Hafl is not in a good mood (you never know what happened in the fields) and maybe I am myself being due to whatever reason unhappy or unconcentrated.  Always remember the saying: no matter how slow you progress, you are ahead of anybody who is not even trying!

Go Rhino!!!

2. Welcome your struggles!
One thing I was also always struggeling with was the fact that training does not always need to “look” good or as I would prefer “perfect”. Especially in every day’s training you are allowed to have problems, to struggle with a certain movement! You are not going to be judged by anyone (ok, most of the time let’s say) for what problems you have in training. The thing about problems is that they make you start to
think. They start to make you search for ways to solve it, to look for alternative ways of approaching that problem. That ensures that you are not stuck at the level that you currently are at. If for example canter would have worked for Hafl and me in the beginning, I would have never searched for new training approaches that overall had a benefit for both of us.

Well said!

3. Focus 100% on the solution!
It is true: obstacles are the frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal (H. Ford). So as long as you are focused on your goal, you will stay on track and no obstacle will distract you from it. If there is something that is not working, spend more time on the solution than the problem itself as spending time on the problem will not bring you forward. Unfortunately, many people are stuck with
complaining and seeing the bad and ugly instead of concentrating on what is needed in the end. And there is one thing that I want to highlight in this respect: not always a 100% solution is needed,  go for the 80% where appropriate!

All eyes on the goal!

4. Ask better questions!
As I was reading mental training books, I learned that there is no mental picture for “Not”. That means: whenever you build a sentence with not, you are building a self-fulfilling prophecy: I do not want to fall off will result in falling off as the only picture that is stuck in your head is: Falling off.  The same goes for questions. Stop thinking of “Why can’t I do this movement?” and think of “How can I do this movement?” Asking questions in another way will open the way to constructive thinking about solutions while asking things like “Why can’t I do this?” will only lead to negative, self-destructive answers like: because I am weak, because I am not talented enough….

No room for can't!

5. Raise your standards!
Moving outside the comfort zone (I need to write a post on this!!!) is one of the hardest things in life. You could be happy with the status quo but that would be a contradiction to be better than you were before. As long you have that in mind, you need to raise your standards: not from very low to very high from one day to another, but a little bit every time you start feeling comfortable: Now I am feeling pretty
good in canter, oh yes, we like it. But I must not get stuck in that status: I need to go on with new exercises and movements! In the canter example, it would be starting with counter canter again after not having done it for months now. And I will eventually realize that this is also getting to easy and thus, setting a new standard again.

My high heels are higher than your standards!

6. Get moving, start doing!
There is a sports goods chain in Austria which has the slogan: Get movin’! It is evident that without that you would never ever enter of one their stores to buy stuff. As soon as you take this first step though, to get off the couch and walk into that store, you have done already the most difficult step. As soon as you are there, you will find something to enjoy and keep working on. The same is true for horse riding! The first step will always be the most difficult one: remember well when I started the canter campaign as I call it. The only thing I really wanted was to give up as I could not breathe anymore and I was tired and it was awful. But that step was necessary to go on with achieving my goals!

The first step is key!
7. Focus on gratitude!
Of course, it is not easy to stay motivated when you find yourself in a bigger trouble. Still, there is always a flip side: when things go wrong, there is something you can learn out of it. And it is not the case that if there is one thing going wrong, that all the other things are going wrong too. After a training session, where you had a big issue, remember the thinks that went pretty good and be thankful for them! You
will not achieve a 100% session every ride, as there might be at least small things not turning out the way you wanted. I always the time after a ride and hand-walk Hafl for cool down where I think about the training session: what was good  - how did it feel like, what was bad – why did it happen and what can I do differently  tomorrow to avoid the same situation? I am sure that one can find good moments in every ride even though you might not see it as first glance! Take your time to reflect and think about it more often helps you to have an overall more positive sentiment in your mind which is the ideal preparation for the next day!

Baby steps to success!

8. Eliminate energy robbers!
Energy robbers are omnipresent, like people that just stand next to you and you feel all of your motivation gone after they (eventually hopefully SOON!). They are declared, if you ask me, energy robbers because they cannot stop complaining about how bad life is for example. If there are enough such negative people around you, it becomes evidently more and more difficult to stay positive yourself! So run whenever you see them – I do the same! And check whether it is other things not necessarily people that rob your energy – get rid of them too! They won’t make you happy either – so let’s say goodbye to annual tax declaration and move on with counter canter ;)

Only remedy: stay away!

9. Plan to do something new with your horse!
Doing something new is generally self-motivating: you are curious how it will work out, how you will perform and develop and what it will be like in the end when you are eventually able to do it! It is like with a new job where you do not really know what to expect. So get a new job for you and your horse: I chose to have a clown horse and Hafl is doing pretty good in circus movements already – well, he gets the best reward for it that he can imagine: treats – and he would do everything for these! ;)

You can be a superhero, if you want!

And after all, be happy that worst day of the year is already over and stop complaining: you have almost a full year ahead  - so clap along if you feel like a room without a roof….

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