It’s January, which means that the time for New Year’s resolutions has arrived with gusto! But this year, rather than the trite resolutions that you’ll lose twenty pounds, eat more leafy greens, and spend less time on your phone and PC, why not think about your horsey resolutions? They’re much more fun to plan anyway! And, there’s less chance of giving up on these resolutions come February.
Not sure what kind of New Year’s resolutions you could plan for the horsey parts of your life? Here are ten of the best New Year’s resolutions for horse riders that I’ve come across. Pick one, two, or even more and hopefully your riding life will be revolutionized this year!
- Fix one consistent riding flaw
You know the one. Your coach is ALWAYS on your case about your duck feet or piano hands, or you lean forwards every time you canter. Whether it’s something big or small, put in consistent work to improve on one equitation flaw that’s been holding you back.
- Be open to learning
Great riders know that they can learn from everyone. Be open to hearing about other people’s experiences and don’t be shy to ask for advice either. You might be surprised at what knowledge you’re lacking or what approaches you haven’t thought about. Even if you learn what not to do, it’s still valuable!
- More quality time with your horse
Now, I’m not saying that riding isn’t quality time. It’s time of the highest quality, in fact. But I know that I’ve been guilty of rushing the tacking up process or getting caught up in my goals for a schooling session without taking the time to appreciate just being around my horse. Take a few extra minutes to brush, cuddle, or just hang out with your hooved friend. Suddenly that annoying canter transition will seem like less of a big deal.
- Drop your stirrups more often
November isn’t the only time you should be riding without stirrups. It’s a guaranteed way to improve your balance and seat, and you can reap real benefits by adding regular no-stirrup work to your regime. Ride your walk during warm up or cool down with no stirrups and do some basic legs-away exercises, resolve to ride a couple of circles in each gait without stirrups every ride, or commit to a lunge lesson once a week where you take them off the saddle. Whichever way you want to incorporate no-stirrup work, make sure it’s safe and sustainable.
- Learn a new skill
There’s so many facets to equestrianism that there must be a skill you’d like to learn but haven’t mastered yet. Maybe you don’t really know how to properly longe or longline a horse? Or perhaps you’re a canter pirouette fanatic but die at the thought of going down a bridle trail at a fast canter.
Learning a new equestrian skill (which doesn’t have to be with your own horse, by the way!) will boost your confidence and help to give you a better understanding of horsemanship in general. So take your pick of the many, many equestrian skills out there and learn to do something new.
- Make the riding community a better place (in your own small way)
There’s no getting around the fact that the equestrian community is notorious for being elitist, unwelcoming, and a whole bunch of other not-so-great things. As a rider, you’ll know that there are plenty of wonderful horsey people out there. Do your bit to make the equestrian community more supportive; be welcoming to a new or novice rider at your barn, volunteer at a show or riding school to help out, or speak up against bullying or nastiness if you see it.
- Be a rider that your horse wants to carry
Look, we can’t all be the Beezie Maddens of the world. The good news is that you don’t have to be an Olympic rider to be a rider that your horse enjoys. All of us can grant our horses more patience, more kindness, more understanding, and more praise. Be a rider who is quick to praise, slow to punish, and always ready to listen.
- Be more grateful
All of us have gotten caught up in the idea of wanting to do more and be more. As a kid you might’ve dreamed of one day having your own horse. Then you get one and dream of having a fancier one. It’s not all bad, because this is partly what drives our ambition and desire to improve and succeed. But I know that sometimes, I could be more grateful for what I have and what I’ve achieved. This year, I’d like to make a conscious effort to be grateful to everyone involved in my equestrian journey.
Be grateful to your families for allowing you time in the saddle without resentment, to your coaches for guiding you even on bad days, and to your horse for allowing you up on their back day after day. And remember that no matter where you are, there’s always someone wishing they could be as fortunate as you!
- Acknowledge (and celebrate) your progress
Self-improvement is great, but remember to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes too. In a sport that can sometimes be cutthroat and often be disheartening, it’s really important to look at how far you’ve come. This year, resolve to acknowledge the progress you make. And remember to celebrate your successes—however big or small—without immediately putting yourself down or identifying something you should be doing better.
10. Set up a horsey budget
We all know that horses are expensive, so a lot of us just close our eyes and pay the bills without registering them. Maybe this year it’s time to think about keeping track of your equestrian spending so you know where you could save some extra cash. You know, so that you can spend it on other horsey things!
So now that you’ve seen ten of the best ones, what are your riding New Year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comments!