We have said goodbye to 2021 and are a couple of days into 2022 which makes it a great time to take a moment and reflect on the past year as well as your goals moving forward into the new year. It is a fact that by February most people have abandoned their resolutions. Is this due to the overwhelming amount of pressure we put on ourselves? As equestrians, many can relate to this pressure. In fact, as an equestrian there is more pressure than we may even realize. Financial pressure just to be able to keep a horse, nonetheless hire a trainer or compete, pressure from our trainers to always improve and the quiet pressure we may put on ourselves when watching others we aspire to ride like at the barn.
How about in 2022 we say “away with this pressure!” and set goals that help ease pressure and frustration which then allow us to leap forward in ways we never imagined. Below are some suggested resolutions aimed towards equestrians to ease pressure yet maximize performance.
1. Set Big Training Goals
Yes, this may seem a little backwards given the text above. Here’s the trick….set those big goals BUT break them down into smaller achievable steps. Speak with your trainer about the steps between goals and suddenly you will see a roadmap that leads the way to your big goal. Now that big goal is less daunting, isn’t it?
2. Clean Your Tack Trunk
Ok, it's a rather lackluster goal. But, hear us out…clutter is a source of stress. I mean, feng shui exists for a reason, right? Purge that tack box. While you're at it purge your grooming box, too. Maybe throw your car or trailer in there for good measure. Toss or donate anything you may not be able to use and give all of your leather a good clean. Organize your tack box so that it becomes an area of ease rather than an area of frustration.
3. Start Working Out
Before you roll your eyes let us finish…start working out in a way that will benefit your goals in the saddle. For example, stretches that help lengthen the leg if you ride dressage. Putting this together can be easy and fun. There are countless online tips and videos aimed towards equestrian fitness and flexibility. Watch a few and piece together a routine that speaks to you. Even if you put 10 minutes aside per day to stretch or strengthen specific muscles used to ride, you WILL notice a difference in the saddle.
4. Evaluate Your Horses’ Feeding Program
This one is important because just like humans, horses also need different nutrients depending on their age, use and specific needs. A feeding routine that may work for them for several years may no longer be ideal. Take a look at your horse's supplements and feeding routine. Read labels and nutrient descriptions, (if it’s full of fillers it’s best to replace it anyhow). If you feed several supplements, make sure you aren’t accidentally over supplementing certain nutrients which can prove to be counterproductive as well as costly. Keep your goals and work load in mind when choosing supplements. Also, fun fact! Horses cannot produce salt or omegas, these two nutrients must be supplemented through their diet. So make sure your routine includes salt and a healthy omega (with an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6).
5. Chill Out!
This one is meant to complement our first suggested resolution. Set those big goals and work hard towards them but do not forget to set time aside to just “chill” with your horse. Schedule days that are just about your horse and what he wants to do, within reason of course. Pick his favorite thing and see it as an opportunity to build your relationship. Keeping your bond close to your horse will keep him wanting to please and work with you. After all, it is a partnership! Spending quality time with your horse with no pressure is the perfect way to keep this partnership strong and is a well-deserved rest from all the hard work you both will be putting in to crush those 2022 goals!
Need help with your feeding routine? Take the test below to see what your horse needs!