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Five horsey resolutions to break, and five to stick to

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Horse and rider spending time in field

While some come together perfectly, in reality it can be hard to stay on track with other resolutions. Meanwhile, there are a few that are bound to be broken before they’ve even begun – and are better off that way, too. We’ve thought of five horsey resolutions that are just that, and five that are worth sticking to, too.

Finding quality time

To break: Vowing to ride six days a week, every week

In this modern world of 9–5s, family commitments and life’s everyday responsibilities, this resolution is devilishly difficult to maintain. In reality, if you don’t want to ride for a week, your horse will forgive you, and if you’re keen on keeping him in full work, there’s loads you can do to ensure this. Why not look into finding a sharer as a New Year’s resolution? Less pressure to ride for you and some of your horse’s expenses covered – it’s a win-win!

To make: Spend more one-to-one time with your equine bestie

What if we told you that not all your time needs to be productive? If you feel like you and your horse are missing out on quality together time, it doesn’t have to take place in the saddle. It’s just as worthwhile to dedicate the odd half hour to giving him an extra groom or a fuss, chatting to him and cementing your bond – getting the most out of him doesn’t have to happen in the arena.

Leave the over-achieving?

To break: Scheduling in a competition win in two months time

It’s always good to have big dreams, but it isn’t always helpful to timetable success – in fact, it can be really stressful. If you thrive on pressure, setting the bar high could work, but if you’re not, think about making your goal more achievable. Then, you’ll have something to work for but will also be able to enjoy a positive result.

To make: Boost your performance with training

If you’re serious about competing, why not focus your resolution more on training? You could make regular lessons a habit, or dedicate one day a week to practising movements from your upcoming dressage tests. Or, aim for monthly clinics instead – you’ll soon see amazing results in your riding.

Guilt-free self-improvement

To break: Going on regular runs

Everyone knows that boosting your own fitness helps in the saddle, but going from nothing at all to several runs a week is a recipe for failure – missing one that you’ve planned can cause guilt that you just don’t need. If you want to try running, build up gradually. Make it infrequent but regular to start with, and short in length. Sure, you may have to drag yourself reluctantly around one or two runs before they become habit, but you’ll soon find you get the runners itch and with it the rush of post-exercise endorphins.

To make: Make riding fun again

Being tired of the same old routine is no recipe for motivation. Mixing things up with hacks in new places, cross-country schooling or trips to the gallops will spice things up – and build your fitness as a combination, too! Or, if it’s company you’re after, why not look at joining a riding club? Training and competing in the company of supportive friends, what could be better?

Spreading the love

To break: Feeding your horse treat after treat

When done right, treating can instil good habits and help sure up your bond. Plus, the joy on your horse’s faces after crunching a polo is irresistible – so make the moments count. If you’re worried about nipping fingers, you could always treat him from a scoop, but sometimes a bit of pocket searching puts a smile on your face – even if it is a bit naughty, really.

To make: Try a few random acts and of kindness

Redirect your feelings of goodwill. It could be as simple as tipping someone else’s wheelbarrow for them on your way past, or turning their horse out if they’re in a rush – either way, it’ll give you both warm and fuzzy feelings. You could even do a few for your horse – look up some DIY massage techniques, or get a stable toy to keep him stimulated and content.

Give yourself a break

To break: Giving up chocolate

Let’s face it, this one is just unnecessary torture! Chocolate is also proven to prompt the release of the hormones serotonin and dopamine, so eating it is basically a recipe for feeling good. Everything in moderation, we say.

To make: Don’t be so hard on yourself

No good ever came from punishing yourself – it only intensifies negative feelings. It’s important to remember that not every resolution has to be about physical and mental endurance, it’s all about forming good and healthy habits for an all-round better you. So, make on of those habits cutting yourself some slack. What’s done is done, there’s no point dwelling, and every moment that passes is a chance to learn and try again.

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