Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and now Cyber Monday have come and gone. We’re officially on a fast track to Christmas and then we dive headfirst into 2023. The New Year is a traditional time to set goals (and horse owners should definitely have goals!), but there are several reasons why you shouldn’t wait until January 1st to make your resolutions. Read on for my top 7.

Reason #1 – Behavior Issues Shouldn’t Wait

If your horse is having some behavioral issues, one of the worst things you can do is rationalize that you’ll deal with it in the spring, or after the snow goes away, or after you get through the Holidays, or after anything else. The longer your horse cultivates undesirable or unsafe habits, the harder it will be to point him in a better direction with his thoughts and energy.

If you’re coming into a season where you ride less due to the weather and shorter daylight hours, this can be a perfect time to do some groundwork, check out some books or videos by some of your favorite trainers, or just spend some quality time with your horse.

Establishing a trusting relationship with your horse is one of the most important things you can do as a horse owner. Everything rides (literally) on mutual trust and respect. Take a little more time and care over your grooming sessions. Go to the barn just to hang out with him once in a while instead of always going to ride or otherwise put him to work.

When you are working with him, make it your goal to establish good habits and behaviors. Help him see what you want by being clear with your praise and recognition of a job well done. Positive reinforcement will beat negative reinforcement every time.

It’s never worth waiting to establish good behaviors (for your horse or yourself!) – start right, and start now.

Reason # 2 – Physical Fitness Shouldn’t Wait

According to the number one New Year’s Resolution for Americans in 2022 was to improve their health. Ask any gym member and they’ll tell you that the first half of January it’s hard to find a parking spot and you’ll have to wait in line to use a treadmill. But, by February, things are pretty much back to normal – people have already crashed and burned on their resolutions and their health takes a backseat until the next New Year.

But physical health is even more important to a horse owner than it is for the general population. Whether you’re mucking stalls, lugging water buckets, toting bales of hay and bags of grain, or just trying to get the mud off your horse,  horse care involves physically demanding activities.

If you’re older (like me), attention to your physical fitness is even more important. Many of us lose strength and flexibility as we get older, and it requires conscious effort to keep ourselves fit.

Standard Disclaimer: While physical fitness shouldn’t wait, you should wait for an OK  from your healthcare provider before you embark on any new exercise programs. While you’re chatting with your doctor, ask about functional strength exercises. Explain what your day of horse-care chores entails, and ask for recommendations. If she’s not well-versed in effective exercises, ask for a referral to a physical therapist, or hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to get you pointed in the right direction.

The sooner you start taking care of physical fitness and health, the sooner you’ll get more enjoyment out of every moment you spend at the barn.

Reason #3 – Mental Fitness Shouldn’t Wait

Mental fitness is as important as physical fitness for horse people. Seeing as you’re partnering with a 1,00 prey animal with strong self-preservation instincts, self-control is vital. Do you fly off the handle easily? Do you respect your horse? Does your horse respect you?

How about confidence? Are you comfortable with the day-to-day handling of your horse? What about stressful situations?

These questions should be revisited regularly – not just on the arbitrary date of January 1.

Reason #4 You Can Create Thoughtful, Meaningful Goals without all of the New Year’s Hype

There’s a lot of hype around New Year’s resolutions. The media bombards us with ideas, suggestions, the most popular resolutions, the best way to stick to them –  I don’t know about you, but I can get a little tired of hearing about them!

The problem with all of the hype is that it’s superficial. The last two weeks of December making resolution advice is everywhere, but on January 2nd, it’s gone faster than a champagne hangover. We’re whipped up into a frenzy and often influenced by suggestions on what resolutions are most important. Setting meaningful goals should take place when you’re really thinking about what’s important to you long-term. And if something’s important long-term, there’s no point in waiting until January 1st to get started!

Reason #5 You”ll have your habits established right about the time everyone else is falling off the bandwagon

Harking back to what I said earlier, most people have given up their commitment to achieving their goals by the end of January. This is largely due to the fact we discussed in Reason #4 –  they’re fired up by all the hype, and when the hype dies down, so does their motivation.

By establishing new healthy habits and behaviors from a place of calm self-evaluation, you’re far more likely to choose goals that are meaningful, not to mention ones for which the motivation has come from yourself rather than the latest article in your favorite magazine.

Reason #6 – Today’s actions create tomorrow’s reality

Why do we so often delay making improvements in our lives? Creating new habits takes some long term thinking, and typically, American’s aren’t great with delayed gratification.

“Life’s short – eat dessert first” thinking leaves us full of things that taste good in the moment, but don’t stick with us for very long (except possibly around our waistlines!)

The choices we make today create the reality we live tomorrow.

Reason #7 – All we have is today

Not to end on a downer, but all we have is today. Right now. There are no guarantees for the future, so if you know you’re not living your best life, don’t delay making those important decisions. Do it today. Do it for your horse, and do it for yourself.

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