An Adult Amateur’s (Unrealistic) New Years Resolutions

Photo © Heather N. Photography

BY LAUREN MAULDIN

It’s that time of year again when everyone is focused on self-improvement—and I’m no exception. For most of my life, I’ve fallen into the resolution trap. You know, when you start to look at everything wrong in your life and pick it apart. I don’t read enough! I need to get back to the gym! I’ll be so much happier if I lose 15 lbs. This time—I mean it for real—I’m doing Dry January.

I want to tell you that wisdom and experience have led me to ditch traditional resolutions, but really it’s more likely attributed to years of therapy. While I’m not signing up for a diet this month, I’m planning for more body movement by doing activities I enjoy besides riding, like hiking and walking my dog.

In a moment of extreme delusion, I even texted my trainer for specific exercises and goals I can work towards to improve my fitness in the saddle. I expected her to say something traditional like, “Trot four laps without stirrups” or “Get fit enough that you stop pretending you heard me say Walk when you know damn well I wanted you to keep going and improve the quality of that canter.” Instead, she hit me with this text back:

Trot around the ring singing “Don’t Stop Believing” with both arms waving over your head, no stirrups, with canter walk trot canter walk transitions every 15 strides.

I’m paraphrasing. This may or may not be a slight exaggeration.

Photo © Heather N. Photography

But the exercise did make me think through all of my riding goals things I’m never actually going to do this year. Behold! my…

Unrealistic Adult Amateur Riding Resolutions

Stop jealously staring at the junior rider and pony kids whose parents pay all their show bills.

Give my horse an appropriate amount of cookies… in a bucket.

Always have sparkling tack that I clean myself after every ride.

Be on time for my after-work weeknight lesson.

Stop pulling my inside rein.

Stop leaning at the base of a long spot.

Stop insisting to my trainer that I can’t tell that I’m pulling my inside rein or leaning at the base of the jump.

Say, “Those jumps look like the height they’re measured to be!” at the show instead of “OH MY GOD THAT OXER IS MASSIVE.”

Stop looking down at my leads.

Photo © Heather N. Photography

Make peace with the single oxer coming home.

Not wait until the last minute to body clip my horse before the show.

Prepare my budget carefully and stay on track during show season.

Stopping adding in the lines in my warmup round.

… or any other round.

Know all my courses ahead of time so I can walk into the ring relaxed and calm.

Keep my gray horse sparkling and clean for every. single. ride.

Photo © Heather N. Photography

But if we’re going to be realistic for a moment, the real resolutions I’m making this year are the same as every year. Have fun. Learn. Do right by my horse.


About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. She writes as a way to explore life. She’s interested in the impact horses have on our lives as well discussing body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.

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