Monday Motivation ⭐Pam Levy ⭐

Pam Levy, Sunny and Stella 

Sunny in the field
Pam, based in Canada, is a horse owner and equestrian blogger of Well with Horses for those looking to build a "healthier, happier life for themselves and their horses." When speaking to Pam, we heard about how she defines motivation and how her motivations have changed and developed since she was a child at pony club. After tackling gastric ulcers with her competition mare to-be, Pam explains how experiences with horses can alter your motivations and in her case completely re-define them. 

Pam said...

“Up until a few years ago, motivation was never an issue for me. I grew up in Pony Club, doing eventing and dressage. We showed every weekend, there were Pony Club rallies and testings to work toward, and we always had a few horses on the go in the yard. As an adult and a “professional equestrian”, motivation was still not something I struggled with. I always worked at show barns, so life seemed very much like an extension of my childhood - constant shows, clinics and lessons. After I became an amateur rider again, I was lucky enough to be able to school a few horses at my trainer’s barn, and with a private lesson a week to boot, I had “built in” motivation. The horses I rode were challenging, and show & clinic opportunities presented themselves often enough that I never worried about what “kept me going”. As it had been since childhood, I was motivated by “the next show” or “the next level”.Then life changed.

I bought a six year old Connemara mare, Stella, who almost immediately developed a gastric ulcer. It took months of treatment to get rid of the ulcer, and during the time she had it, Stella became a nightmare, both under saddle and on the ground. Through slow and steady work, we got her back to the point where I could safely get on and ride, but I knew the only way to keep the ulcers from coming back was a change in lifestyle.Fast forward two years. Never one to do things by half measures, my husband and I bought a little farm, and moved Stella home along with our older mare, Sunny. Both horses now live an idyllic life. Stella works about three or four days a week and we are steadily making our way toward being a nice little dressage horse, but I had made a promise to her that her life would be stress free, so going out to the shows and doing clinics isn’t really in the stars for us. Stella’s a worry-wart, and she internalises her stress until it boils over - so the more her routine stays the same, the happier (and healthier) she is. And that’s where the motivation (or lack thereof) became an issue.

Pam and Stella

For the first time in my horsey-life, I don’t have a show to get ready for. That built-in sense of urgency is gone, to the point that some days I don't even end up riding at all. Some days Stella and I work on things like self-parking at the mounting block, or turn on the haunches in hand. Some days I brush out her tail, or pull her mane. Some days I sit on an upturned bucket in the middle of the paddock and watch them graze. I remember the moment it hit me that I was suffering from a lack of motivation. It was a warm summer evening, perfect for riding, and I suddenly realized that I was going through a mental checklist of excuses as to why I didn’t want to just tack up and ride. That’s when I decided I had to make a change, because while my goals were still the same (bringing Stella along as a dressage horse, and improving my timing and feel as a rider), not having my usual set of motivations to fall back on was making those goals harder and harder to reach.

I did a lot of soul searching, and a lot of goal-writing. And I don’t mean “dreaming” or “I-wish-ing”. I mean actually sitting down, putting pen to paper, and writing out some meaningful, realistic goals that I can reach, with work, but that will also be a bit of a stretch. Realistic goals, with definite timelines and desired outcomes. I’ve created a chart to keep track of my rides, and I journal after each ride as to how those leg yields are going. Goal setting, charting my ride days, and journaling have now become habits for me. And those habits are what keep me going when I’m not feeling as motivated as I’d like. When I feel my motivation begin to wane, I look back through my journal, and look over my charts, and remind myself of how far I’ve come. It’s like my new-found habits have become the external motivation I lost when I stopped showing.”

Goal Setting

Goal setting is a common tool developing in the equine industry and not a practice that would necessarily be every rider’s go- to, like it might be in the workplace (the only place I have applied it myself so far). However many riders such as Olivia Towers Dressage, highly recommend it and find it a worthwhile technique. 

Journaling on the other hand, is something I can personally recommend and something I have adopted in my personal, work, fitness and equestrian life. After a bad fall in Autumn 2016 resulting in spinal fractures, my health and fitness routines and consequently my weight, all lapsed due to rest and recovery while my work life was forced to take a back seat. This was at times very frustrating, de-motivating and ultimately- boring! By writing regular journals about what stage I was at, what I was doing and how I felt, really helped me document each moment of my progress and provided a great read when I was thinking negatively about my progress. For more information about rider goal setting and journaling, take a look at the links below on Goal Setting from Olivia Towers Dressage and Journaling by The Horse Channel.

Check out OTD's Vlog on Goal Setting
Olivia Towers Dressage
How Keeping a Journal Helps You & Your Horse

Has goal-setting or journaling worked for you? Leave us a comment and let us know! Or give us your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!
Written by Ruth Box @ruth_box6910 Email Ruth


  1. Thanks for including me in your blog post! Also, great links - I'm going to check out Olivia Towers vlog now, she's one of my faves! x

    1. You are most welcome Pam, Olivia is one of our favourites too! We find her very inspiring and her goal setting vlog is really useful :)


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