A Rider’s New Year’s Resolution

BY ASHLEY SHAW

Regardless of whether you consider New Years to be a fresh start, setting a new set of goals for yourself is always beneficial. As we dive into winter circuits, it’s helpful to have a clear goal in mind so that you know what you’re working towards and can make real progress with your horse. However, setting the right goal is not always easy, so if you’re looking for ideas, here are what a variety of junior and amateur riders are doing for their New Year’s Resolutions.


Photo by Blanca Parciak Photography, courtesy of Caroline Roethlisberger

Caroline Roethlisberger, Amateur

At school, when I get stressed or busy with work, it’s always nice to take a break and be with the horses. So, this year, I’m hoping to take more time for myself and relax at the barn. I’m hoping that prioritizing riding time will help manage my stress and keep me practicing regularly.

Photo courtesy of Emy Lucibello.

Emy Lucibello, Junior

This past year: Over the last year, my horse and I competed in the big equitation. Highlights of my show year would be competing in both the US Dover Medal Finals and ASPCA Maclay Finals.

Resolution: My New Year’s Resolutions are to work on my mental toughness in the ring and to improve my horsemanship education and skills.

How I will do this: Focusing on my mental toughness, I will try new things and break from my comfort zone. I’ll also set and practice goals and try to transform my nerves into positive energy. On the horsemanship side, I will try to learn as much as possible from each experience and continue to study for the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz. I will also try to apply those skills learned as frequently as possible.

Photo by Shaw Sisters Photography.

Catherine Delker, Amateur

My New Year’s resolution for riding is to qualify for IHSA Nationals by making a mental plan to execute for each trip based on what I know about the horse and the course. As well, I want to work on seeing the positive highlights of my ride and stay consistent. In riding my personal horse, my resolution is similar in that I want to strive to make each ride effective and goal oriented because, as George Morris says, “you are always schooling or un-schooling your horse.”

Photo by Shaw Sisters Photography.

Teddie Goffstein, Junior

Hi, I’m Teddie, I’m 11 years old, and this past year I competed in the Large Pony Hunters with my pony and just recently started the Children’s Hunters with my new horse. My goal for this year is to improve on all of the bad riding habits I have and to be successful in all of the classes that I compete in, and most of all, just to be happy with my riding in general! I will achieve that by working hard at home and at shows with my trainers and listening to everything they have to say about my riding.

Photo courtesy of Ellison Neumann.

Ellison Neumann, Junior

My New Year’s resolution is to start to let go of my riding fears. When I’m nervous I pull, I want to work on going forward because nothing good comes from pulling. I also have a tendency to over analyze every little mistake. I’d like to accept my mistakes then work on fixing them, instead of getting stuck thinking about them constantly.

Photo by Shaw Sisters Photography.

Amanda Shaw, Amateur

This summer I will most likely have an internship and will not be able to travel and compete like I usually do. Therefore, my 2019 equestrian resolution is to enjoy the time I spend with the horses just grooming, hacking, and grazing. I’ve been very wrapped up in the competitive aspect of the horse world, so it will be good for me to take a step back for a little and revisit why I started riding in the first place.

Photo courtesy of Emma Durham.

Emma Durham, Amateur

This past year: My horse was injured for six months and I wasn’t able to show much. When we did show, I noticed we have gotten better at our performance in flat classes, as well as hunter derbies.

My resolution: Keep my horse sound and healthy so we are able to show throughout the entire year. I want to also build both of our confidences and work on my equitation.

How I plan on achieving that: Not being afraid to get out of my comfort zone and focusing on adjusting my lower leg and hand placement while training.

Photo courtesy of Nastia Werner.

Nastia Werner, Junior

This year I aim to compete in my first ever 1m jumper division and move up to Beginner Novice in eventing in the spring and hopefully take home our first blue [ribbon] together!

I have been working really hard to get [my horse] riding bridleless and hope to be able to do a whole course without one.

Finally, I aim to get our dressage score down to the twenties as I finished up with super low thirties, and I know if I relax a little more at competitions and use myself just a little more we got it in the bag!

Photo courtesy of Hayley Kastrup.

Hayley Kastrup, Amateur

My New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to become more consistent in my riding. One of my trainer’s favorite phrases is “I see moments of brilliance,” and I want to be more consistent in my brilliance moments.

Photo courtesy of Ali Mikhail.

Ali Mikhail, Junior

My resolution is to get my legs and core stronger, and to overall improve my riding and accuracy at the jumps. I also am going to learn more about horsemanship in general and spend more time in the barn learning how to take care of my horse properly.


Me and my two horses, Adico and Legs. Photo by Blanca Parciak Photography.

From fixing bad habits to earning points to qualify for championships, there are many different goals we can set for ourselves that can improve our riding and our motivation. In 2019, I personally want to work on improving my focus while riding, which I can do by mentally repeating what I need to work on, such as guarding the outside side, and continuously recalling what I worked on in my last lesson so I can pick up where I left off. In addition to that, however, my New Year’s Resolution is to enjoy riding. Every freezing hack, every rainy horse show, all the hours spent cleaning tack and folding saddle pads – I will treasure these moments. Next year I’ll be in college, and while I want to continue riding, I know I won’t be able to ride as much as I do now, so I am going to concentrate on enjoying the time I spend with the two horses I am lucky to call mine. Maybe the new year is a fresh start, and maybe it’s not, but by setting yourself goals, you can make great strides with your riding and your happiness.