Episode 289: Recovery Time: The Missing Piece of Your Training Plan

When pursuing long-term goals with your horse, it’s crucial to intentionally plan for both physical and mental recovery time. While most riders allow physical recovery for their horses after intense events, they often neglect their own need for mental rest and rejuvenation. By taking intentional breaks, postponing further work until a set date, and observing your body’s and mind’s recovery patterns, you can learn to better support yourself before, during, and after challenging events. Honoring your recovery needs allows you to show up fully for your horse and increases your chances of successfully achieving your goals together.

Key Takeaways:

• Plan recovery time for both physical and mental rejuvenation
• Take intentional breaks by setting a restart date and sticking to it
• Observe your recovery patterns to learn your needs
• Proper recovery planning leads to showing up better for your horse
• Increases likelihood of achieving long-term goals with your horse

Read the Transcript:

It’s more common for people to think about physical recovery, but there’s also such a thing as mental recovery. Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses. Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall and I’m here to help you understand, enjoy, and successfully train your own horses. Today I want to talk about an often overlooked part of working towards a goal. It’s called recovery. Do you plan recovery time into your horse goals? I’m actually thinking about this for a couple of different reasons right now. One reason is that I had a student who asked a question that was then surprised by my answer. And the other reason is that on the day that this podcast releases, I will be teaching a class inside the Resourceful Rider program, addressing this question, why is it hard to honor your plans? So let’s begin with that angle for just a moment. One reason I believe that people often struggle to make a plan, and then if they do make the plan, they struggle to follow through with it. I believe it’s because they don’t plan for recovery time during the goal pursuit. So you can get away with skipping that recovery time planning if you have a really short term plan. So if it’s Tuesday and you’re planning for next Saturday that you’re going to do something, you might not need a recovery plan.

But if you have a six month goal or a year long goal or a multi year long goal, then you’re going to benefit from planning recovery time.

Pursuing a goal that takes a longer up time. Let’s say six months requires a different skill set of planning, and it’s easy to begin to resent your plan if recovery isn’t included. The way I like to look at it is it’s more common for people to think about physical recovery. But there’s also such a thing as mental recovery. And I would go as far as saying that most writers actually plan physical recovery time for their horses. So after a show, most people I know give the horse some time off after a big trail ride. Same thing, a little bit of time off or lower intensity. But now pause for a moment and think about what the typical rider does. Many riders that I know go to a show or go to a big trail ride, and then when they come home, they let the horse have some time off and they rush to go catch up on all those other things that need to be done. So the rider might back off on physical exertion. Maybe they’re not riding the horse, and that’s a big part of where they get physical activity. But what about the mental side of this? So pause for a moment and think about you as being a part of the plan. And when you reflect on you, are you addressing both the physical recovery time and the mental recovery time? Think about a goal that you’ve either had in the past with your horse, or one that you might be in the middle of right now, and answer this question based on yourself. Are you addressing your need for physical recovery time and your need for mental recovery time?

Here’s a pro tip if you have been intentionally addressing this, you’ll actually be able to answer that question specifically. If you don’t have a plan for physical recovery time for yourself, or mental recovery time for yourself, that actually means you’re not addressing it. You might be hoping it happens, and you might be guessing that it probably might happen, but if you don’t have a plan for it, odds are you’re not fully maximizing your recovery times.

So let’s look at my student as an example. A little bit of back story students inside my Advance at Home program can text with me. Technically it’s called slack, but it’s very much like texting. And recently I received a message from a student who has a multi-month long goal that has many steps. And the final parts of this goal won’t happen until September. And when I’m recording this right now, it’s May, so there’s a fair amount of time left in this planning and execution process that will lead her towards her final goal. And the message that I got in, slack said. This feels like such a milestone that I’m having difficulty setting the next stepping stone in place. I would love to explore this. So she had just completed a milestone, and she was noticing that she was having difficulty setting the next stepping stone in place.

My response surprised her. This is what I sent back to her. It said the next step is challenging. Its recovery. Be kind and generous during this stage. It is an absorbing and recovering stage. It’s so different than the push to get up the hill to get things done, to reach this milestone. That, while going down the other side may seem like it should feel amazing, it often feels like a roller coaster where your stomach leaves you, except you didn’t see it coming. So it’s more like when you’re looking down in a car and someone goes over a bump that makes your stomach drop. The drop is part of the cycle, but if you don’t plan for it and allow it, it can feel terrible. What is your recovery plan physically and mentally? You are done with this part. Anything else about this, including reviewing your videos and learning can be postponed. This window of recovery that you give yourself can also be a huge learning opportunity. This is your opportunity to listen to your body. Your brain will probably offer that you need to do the next step, that you need to watch your videos, that you need to study, that you need to learn, that you need to go to the next step. Tell your brain, thank you, but we’re not looking at this until a specific day and time. Set a time like Saturday at 9 a.m.. Be specific. Every time your brain wants to ruminate or offer you ideas, say thank you, but not until Saturday at 9 a.m.. In the meantime, watch your brain and your body. What does your body need? How empty do you feel? And what is it like to feel half full? Three quarters full? What does recovery actually feel like? When you repeat this after every event that requires effort, you’ll begin to be able to see your recovery patterns, and then you’ll be able to predict them. When you see this full cycle, you’ll be able to support yourself before, during and after the event even more effectively.

So for those of you who are long time podcast listeners, you may have noticed an idea that sounded familiar the before, during, and after. Because back in episode 187, I recorded a podcast titled The Backwards Cycle of Learning after, during, and before. And that is very much what happens when you are learning your cycle of recovery. You actually have to go through the process so that you can figure out what it feels like, and you’re probably going to learn it backwards. You’re going to have the event, you’re going to be in the recovery cycle, and you’re going to notice your habits. And the better you get at doing that afterwards, you’ll eventually be able to do it during. And the better you get at being able to support yourself during, the better you’ll be able to make your plan beforehand. So make sure that you don’t overlook this opportunity of studying what it’s like for you to plan for and allow for a recovery period. You would give it to your horse. You deserve it for yourself. When you learn to take a recovery period and maximize it both mentally and physically, you will be able to show up so much more fully for your horse.

And if you’re listening to this on the day that it releases and you are a resourceful rider student, join me live later today or catch the replay in the Mindset Mastery section of the program. This concept that I talked about today is just one piece of the reason why people struggle to follow through with their plans. That’s what I have for you today, and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

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