There are generally two camps of people in this world ‒ those who make New Year’s Resolutions and those who don’t. If you fall into the former category, you’ve probably already broken at least one of them by now. Dry January anyone? But that New Year’s Day mimosa just appeared in your hand like magic, you had no choice.
For us riders, there are some horse-specific resolutions we think you should add to your list, although like quitting sugar or reducing your screen time, you’re definitely going to break some of these, but others stand a realistic chance of being kept. All of them will ensure you have a more fulfilling 2023 in the saddle!
1. Clean your tack after every ride. You know you should; it will keep the leather soft, supple, and safe while it extends the life of the equipment. At the very least clean your bridle, which can be done in less than ten minutes. That is about the length of this handy video guide “How to Clean a Bridle” by the British Horse Society:
2. Keep a riding journal. The benefits should be obvious, as you will have a complete picture of your horse’s progress by recording exercises, schooling sessions, blacksmith, vet treatments, and everything in between. As you discover what works and what didn’t, perhaps a pattern will emerge as you gear up for show season. It doesn’t have to be heartfelt tome like your teenage diary, but it should be detailed. Don’t believe us? Read why riding journals work in our interview in Horse Sport with equine biometrics expert Tim Worden.
3. Clean out your grooming kit the first Sunday of each month. This is especially good for the winter through spring months when your brushes get covered in shedded hair and mud. Go on then, soak the brushes in soap and scrub your bag or plastic tray and get organized! Tip: Add this to your riding journal as a “to do” along with the tack cleaning.
4. Attend a clinic. We can’t all afford to train full-time, or live close to a coach we admire. Keep an eye on social media for clinicians who are coming to your area. You may or may not get selected to ride in the clinic, but even auditing can offer up great insight, a different perspective on training, and inspire you to try some new techniques with your horse.
5. Get more involved. This one can be anything from volunteering at a horse show or equine rescue to organizing a fundraiser for junior riders to arranging a dream clinic for your barn (see above). Even if you don’t think you have the time (you probably do), you’ll be happy you did, as there are many benefits to volunteering including connecting to friends and making new ones, improving your mood, and much more.
6. Donate used equipment and clothing. We spend a lot of money on our horses, including what we wear at the barn and while riding. But do we really need all of it? This year, go through your tack room and your closet and create a box of things you can sell online or donate. There are several riding charities and rescue groups that will be thrilled to have used tack and clothing in good condition, even if they sell it to raise funds.
7. Spend more time with your horse. This is the one resolution you’ll want to keep! Life is stressful and hectic, but time with our animals is a proven method to ease tension and improve mental health. Groom longer, hand-graze, or just snuggle ‒ any way we can extend the time around the stable with our equine partners is a recipe for happiness.
Happy New Year!