Moving forward with purpose

January 2, 2019. Today we’re all closer to our goals than we were December 31, 2018. Now is the time when so many of us are thinking of making changes, for the better. It’s a special time of year when we get really focused on goals and becoming everything we dreamed of. Yes, dream big, always. But think small and work daily.

In between losing 10 pounds, cleaning out your un-used items and surrounding yourself with good people and feeling gratitude every day you’ll probably be making a resolution for your riding as well. One thing I’m resolving to do is to blog more, so in honor of that “intention” I’ll share with you some ideas I have for equestrian resolutions.

1: Learn some thing about how your horse’s body works. We have to remember always that our horses are living breathing animals. Beyond that, they are athletes. Riders and owners have a responsibility to their horses to educate themselves and provide the best care possible. Every day there is a story, a product or someone comes to the barn with some factoid or fix for some horse ailment, or situation. Resolve this year to learn about something related to your horse’s body. Be it educating yourself about nutrition, gastric health or biomechanics. Make yourself more knowledgeable about the FACTS of your horse’s health and well-being so you can maximize your training time, and budget. Educating yourself about how your horses’ digestion, muscles, tendons, heart, lungs and mind work best is a great way to prevent yourself from making costly mistakes with your horse. G.I. Joe was right when he told us all that “Knowing is half the battle.” In a battle against companies trying to profit from a lucrative market and people looking to make a name for themselves with special techniques, understanding how your horse should work is one way prepare. Don’t let yourself buy another specialty product before you understand first how your horse’s body moves and functions.

2: Take care of your skin. As riders we’re out in the elements, not just sun in the summer but wind, dirt and dust. Resolve to take care of your own skin by keeping sunscreen in your tack box. Be sure to moisturize and cleanse your face over the winter to prevent redness from cold chapped skin. It’s a little but important part of our lives, and as horsemen we often forget to take care of ourselves and also, how much we are exposed to on a daily basis. Skin cancer is something we should all be aware of in this sport. Wear the sun shirt, the wide brimmed hat and be sure to take care of yourself. You never know, applying your special winter time night moisture cream might be the gateway to self-care you need to keep you going in the right direction.

3: Volunteer. Every horse association, every event needs volunteers. If you’ve ever been to a competition, a clinic or a major event you’ve been able to do so because scads of people made some time to help out the management. You don’t have to have a lot of experience or even a lot of time. Make a commitment to help out at at least one event and your local associations will be grateful. Additionally, you may end up meeting some new people or gaining a new insight into your sport just by being more involved with a competition from a different angle. A little bit of volunteering will certainly add more meaning to your horsing life.

4: Warm-up and cool down. We have to remember that our horses are living breathing animals made up of muscles and tendons. Unlike bicycles horses need to warm up their parts before they can successfully perform. Research study after research study shows that at least 10 minutes of walking your horse prior to a full workout is critical for the preservation of the sensitive structures in the horse’s legs. Top riders across the world in all disciplines agree a solid warm-up is as good for the horse’s mind as it is for their body. Don’t skip it. And don’t skip the cool down either. Take 10 minutes to go outside to walk in the fresh air or simply let your horse’s heart rate and respiration come back to normal before chunking him back in the stall. Learn to regard your warm up and cool down as a long transition both into and out of work. Don’t be in such a hurry, set your athlete up for success.

5: Track your progress. Maybe you don’t think you’re getting anywhere with your riding. You’re probably wrong. In 2019, keep yourself motivated by tracking your progress. Not just what division you are riding in, or how much money you brought home from the show but by the number of times your riding instructor has to tell you to put your elbows on your sides. Don’t just track the big things but little things as well. The large goals, like moving up a level are accomplished by achieving every day little goals like “It was 10 degrees outside but I put in a 30 minute conditioning ride.” Other goals such as learning more of the vocabulary of your sport or understanding a new concept are also valuable and worth noting. As are achievements on the ground. Keep track of every step in the right direction on your way to your big goals. Little things count.

Zack and Margo would like to start 2019 by thanking all of the wonderful people we work with both in and out of Lincoln Equestrian Center. We appreciate your caring support of our goals and dreams. We are very much looking forward to all the adventures 2019 has in store for all of us. We’re excited to see Pony Club Develop, to take our clients out to shows, to watch new people learn the ways of horsemanship and seasoned horse people continue to grow on the never-ending path of horses.