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Betsy Carter’s Horse Column: Resolutions work only with follow-up

HAPPY NEW YEAR! What’s your New Year’s resolution?

Last year, I did not keep my New Year’s resolution, which was to show in the Green Horse division.

I started off with great enthusiasm. I had a plan and riding chart to map out my strategy. My riding chart included lateral and longitudinal exercises such as leg yields, serpentines and circles in extended and collected gaits. The chart also included field work and hill work as well as jumping.

I tried to design the chart to include things to do when the weather was too bad for good ring riding, such as trail rides. I made the chart in columns to check off completed tasks and dates with the idea of maintaining forward progression and my own commitment to the plan.

I find a visual reminder is very important for me, a rider who must ride alone without a trainer most of the time. It keeps me motivated.

The visual reminder is also good as a history of accomplishments. To look back and see what’s been done is encouraging.

My chart also had an area for notes and observations. Here I could note especially good rides or problems that I needed to address in the next ride. This worked great for a while. But as time wore on I was noting more often than anything else the condition of my horse’s health instead of our riding progress.

Initially, I had not included a column for medications for his stomach or lameness issues. I suppose this was a kind of positive thinking, or probably denial of his ongoing condition.

Finally, struggling with his health took over my focus. His health has got to be my top concern or I have no horse to ride at all. We continue.

My new chart for 2012 will include a column for health and meds. It will also have an area to address the need for my own physical fitness, which is very difficult to maintain, and a rewards system of some kind for horse and rider accomplishments.

I must be very unrealistic or pigheaded, but I am going to resolve to show again this year.

Send me your New Year’s resolutions at

Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.