(Happy) new year, new (stronger) me.

Hi friends! Welcome to the new DECADE. Twenty-twenty. All three of us have experienced important and transformative life changes through the past year, and I think we’re all ready to ring in this new era excited for the best things in our lives to become even better.

In my little world, I want to make sure I take time to focus on things that bring me joy. I was recently at a dinner with a friend who takes so much pride and joy in cooking wonderful, flavourful food – I wish I shared her passion! I find few things as inspiring as watching others pursue and share their passions, and so this is something I want for myself (and all of you!) as well.

I find that I tend to want to be a bit of perfectionist – those that know me will say that actually I’m just neurotic. This often prevents me from enjoyment of my pursuits, as I get lost in the details and get frustrated when things aren’t *just* so.

Ranchero & I enjoyed a clinic over the weekend with the fabulous Gareth Graves, and he was hard on me… and I loved it! I left with so much homework, and it was essentially all functional equitation – which is something I really have the power to work on. Inspired and refreshed, I went to ride the next day, I pulled out my Practice Saddle, and I went to work on improving my leg position and achieving better contact. Now, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so certainly I can’t fix these things immediately! However, I left the barn with a smile on my face, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and as I pondered my weekend I realized that this is what real joy feels like, and I really need to savour it. I’m going to focus on this feeling in 2020.

This time of year is always for setting goals, but I’m thinking a little more broadly: goals for 2020, but also goals for the 2020s! We’re still young ladies, but we all recognize the importance of staying strong and active. So, my goal for the decade is to remain strong – both physically and mentally. My goal for this year is to improve my functional equitation, a thing I feel I’ve neglected over the past few years in particular.

In case any of you are feeling inspired, here are a few things I’m going to be working on to help strengthen my position:

  • No stirrups/one stirrup (trot & canter)
    • This is such an obvious one, but you have to change it up and challenge a bit. You have to post the trot with no stirrups, and you have to post with one stirrup on either side. You’ll be shocked at how your balance changes side to side, which should give you an idea of which side you need to work on more.
  • Two point/posting variation (trot)
    • This is another one that makes you feel like you’re in an up-down lesson. Honestly? I rode around in two-point for like 3 minutes per side the other day while trotting… ya. Balance not as good as I thought… shame on me! The other balance exercises you can do is something like down-for-3-up-for-1, or other posting variations – feel free to be creative!
      • If you’re feeling particularly tough, my lovely trainer gave me a very tough one a few months ago, which went like this:
      • Up for 20, down for 1. Up for 19, down for 1. Up for 18, down for 1. Up for 17, down for 1. (You get the idea) Keep going all the way until you are up for 1, down for 1, then change directions and go up for 1, down for 1. Up for 2, down for 1. Up for 3, down for 1, until you reach up for 20, down for 1. Bonus points if, like me, you had to do this without stirrups!
  • One hand behind your back (trot & canter)
    • Obviously, safety is an important consideration here. Hand behind your back is the best way to do this, but if you feel safer, rest your hand on your thigh to start.
  • The Butet Practice Saddle
    • Standard H-Love behaviour 101: want to try a thing, can’t find the thing, get frustrated, buy the f@#%ing thing. So, I now own one of these bad boys! This is an amazing training tool. It helps a rider to intuitively find the correct riding position, and it sure is a magnifying glass for any issues you may have (whether you suspect you have a problem or not!).
    • There are many Butet retailers or saddle wholesalers/consignors that will offer the practice saddle to rent, which is a really great way to get a crash course with this piece of equipment without having to buy one. My issue was that there wasn’t one available to rent in my area, so this one became mine. If you live in my local area and want to try this, I am willing to rent it to people I trust so feel free to contact me. Click here: heather@manegirls.ca

We would encourage you all to think about how you want to spend the next decade. Which goals are you making? Take those goals, and imagine what your world feels like, looks like, smells like, with those goals achieved. New year, new you! HAPPY NEW DECADE!

xo, H-Love

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