I wrote a little bit about my horse goals for the year, but they’re all fairly general. What about my specific riding goals? (Inasmuch as it makes sense to have any, on a 26yo retired horse and no show plans.)
For that, I turned to a tool called The Dressage Rider’s Journal.
(full disclosure time: Ruth Hogan-Poulsen is my barn owner and sometime-trainer. Mostly, I ride with the barn manager because I’m year-round in Vermont and my schedule matches better with hers, but I try to ride with Ruth when I can and have known her for a decade.)
I love a good planning tool, and this book delivers in spades. It’s smart, organized, and provoked me to think about lots of things I hadn’t considered before, with lots of specificity and opportunities for mapping things out. It’s useful to me as a single-horse rider/owner, but I think it would work well if you owned and rode multiple horses, too. And I made my goals all about riding but I think you could add in other things too – like “learn how to do a good standing wrap” or “pass Pony Club B test” or something like that.
I spent probably an hour doing some deep thinking and note-taking and setting the book up for the year. It’s my plan to hand it to the barn manager at the beginning of every lesson so she can write my homework in. This week, I’m out of town on vacation, so the notes will be what the assistant trainer tells me about her ride on Tristan. Next week, lesson notes will go in that wide space to the bottom right, along with some to-do things for me and maybe diagrams.
Using the journal, I laid out our January goals based on our last lesson of 2021: gain better and more specific access to Tristan’s hind end. I need to be able to access and move both hind feet and not have his shoulders zing out instead, or have him just blow me off. So I jotted down some initial ideas that came out of our lesson, and will keep adding more through the month.
At the end of each month, there’s also a double-page of arena diagrams so you can map things out that work for you. I can’t be the only person who is constantly getting great exercises, seeing huge progress with them for three weeks, and then forgetting about them completely, right? This should help with that problem.
In all: I’m really excited to use this as a tool to keep me on track.