New Years is a time to reflect on the previous year and to wipe the slate clean for the new one. New Year Resolutions are an ancient practice dating back nearly 4000 years. Both ancient Babylonian and Roman cultures used the new year to reaffirm their religious faith. The expectation was that in being better people, the God’s would reward their good deeds. While resolutions are rooted in religion, today they are more often focused on personal self-improvement. Studies suggest that about 45% of people set resolutions but only 8% will succeed. While recognizing that resolutions are not for everyone, we want to offer our WARHorse readers a few simple resolutions and advice to help you succeed.

Our bodies are composed of nearly 60% water. Through sweating, urination, stool, even breathing our bodies continually loose water. These losses are accelerated by warm weather, high altitudes, exercise and in older adults when our sense of thirst can become diminished. Water helps your body’s functions work correctly, mitigates muscle fatigue, keeps your skin properly moisturized, helps with bowel function and fuels our kidneys which remove toxins from our bodies.

BTW. The popular recommendation that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day is not based on science, so don’t feel compelled to meet that miserable measure. Simply drink more than you usually drink.

I admire my friends who clean their tack after every ride but that’s not me. Perhaps its not you as well? However we all know tack is expensive and regular cleaning is imperative to its function and longevity. Start this new year with a go at that dirty saddle and bridle, toss those saddle pads in the laundry and it probably wouldn’t hurt to run your horse’s stable blanket through the wash for a refresh.

TIP. Invite friends and make a party of it – wine helps.

We all know the importance of cross training our horses but now we’re talking about you. Cross training for people is also important especially as we age. We’re not suggesting you go out and run a marathon, but merely be more conscious of using your body holistically. Assess your level of daily activity whether it be riding, gardening, walking up and down the stairs in your house a dozen times a day or vacuuming. Chances are you are using the same muscles over and over and not exercising your entire body. Now add an activity (activities) that do a little more become more conscious of your physical movements and expand upon them. Yes, yoga class and weight training are terrific but you can benefit from small actions. For instance, park your car in the middle of the lot instead of in the closest spot to store front. Hand walk your horse for 20 minutes after you ride (+++ your horse will appreciate the extra attention).

Please consult with your doctor before undertaking a new physical regime.

Every equestrian is a bit of a hoarder. Admit it, its ok, we’re all friends at WARHorses. Me? Saddle pads, lots of saddle pads, mostly purple. Now is as good a time as any for a I-got-too-many-of-these purge. Go through your tack room, tack box, the wash rack, mud room and closets at home. If you haven’t used it in the last two years, give it to someone who will. Offer items to your equestrian friends, organize a group barn sale and apply the earnings toward something you really need or donate to local charities.

Spend more quiet time with your horse. We WARHorses cherish the bonds with our horses but they don’t have to be founded by work. You don’t need to saddle up every time you go to the barn. Build in quiet time for extended grooming or a long walk around the property. A friend of mine takes a lawn chair in the pasture and reads books to her horse. Working is not a requirement for building a stronger bond with your horse. Seeing you and hearing you and feeling your touch are just as meaningful from the ground.

Share your love of horses with others. You may not convert your non-horsey friends or grandchildren into equestrians, but you can give them an amazing experience they are unlikely to forget. Invite them over for a ride, lead them around at a walk and let them feel the horse’s movement and power beneath them. Invite your husband to the barn, not to do chores, but to experience first-hand the joy we feel when our horse nuzzles our face. Non-profits always welcome volunteers, perhaps you could spare an afternoon once a month to bath horses, lend a hand during a therapy session, help fix broken fences or haul a foster to a new home. When considering volunteerism, don’t forget about horse shows – especially at the local level.

Hopefully, one or two of our suggestions will resonate and you will take it up as your own personal new year resolution. You may not carry your resolve through year’s end, don’t fret, that’s ok. The goal is to simply try and along the way benefit in ways that makes your horse time more enjoyable. Below are a few tips to help you succeed.

  • Set attainable goals. A resolution does not need to be worthy of a nobel prize to be rewarding. Don’t resolve to do your first endurance ride if knee-replacement surgery is on your horizon. Perhaps resolve to follow doctor’s orders and not ride until he gives you the green light.
  • More Walk, Less Talk. Making a resolution does not require a public proclamation. Its ok to keep goals to yourself. Instead of exerting efforts to explain your resolution aloud, take than energy and apply it toward DOING your resolution.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself. If your resolution goes by the wayside, stay calm, its ok. A resolution is a goal and should never be judged. Starting the race is as valid as finishing the race simply because you have tried. And if you slip, you can always try again.

Photography Courtesy: Pexel


If you enjoyed this article, you will certainly enjoy WARHorse’s article on Caring for Aging Horses. It is a thoughtful reminder that retired horses actually benefit from more of your attention. Out to pasture should never mean forgotten. We offer several easy ways you can improve your senior horse’s life – starting today.

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