Happy New Year everybody!

The beginning of a new year is the best time to take stock of what we did last year, and make plans for what we'd like to see in the year ahead. 

After all the parties are done, and the celebrations are finished, the calm after the storm is a great time to sit back, reflect, visualize and plan, and schedule your goals - especially your riding goals. As I've already discussed many times, goal setting is a little different when it comes to horses, because they have quite a lot of input into what can happen. 

So it is great to have a structured, organized way to start off the year, then come back on a weekly and/or monthly basis to evaluate, adjust, and think ahead to next steps. Which is where the giveaway comes in!

Goal Setting For The Equestrian: A Personal Workbook has helped thousands of people do just that. 

HL Five Years
HL Bundle
HL Goal Setting
HL Book 3
HL Book 2
HL Book 1

And in celebration of the brand-spanking new 2019, I'd like to give away FIVE digital copies of the book! Print off the pages as many times as you like. This is the Giveaway that keeps on giving! 🙂

All you have to do is write a riding or ground work goal in the comments below. Make the goal something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (get it? S.M.A.R.T. - which is how the goals in the book are set up!). Silly, irrelevant goals will eliminate your entry, so think of something that you really want to do this year in your riding, that will benefit your horse (or the horse that you ride).

FIVE lucky winners will be announced the first week of January. Enter only once. Winners will be randomly chosen after the close of the Giveaway. Look for the "Winners" blog post in the first week of January to see exactly who won.

Please use a name in the comments below that matches the email address you will use if you win. Email addresses are NOT necessary for entry. 

The giveaway is open to current readers as well as new readers (so tell your friends!). Entries will be accepted starting now and ending at midnight (12:00 am) on Jan.2. 

OK! What are you waiting for?! Looking forward to reading all about your goals! Comment below.


Horse Listening

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  1. I ride English but joined a Western Riding Club as my friend belongs and she goes up to use their arena all the time. I joined so I could go along with her and use the arena.
    A couple of weeks ago I got talked into doing the beginner class for western which involves a Showmanship halter class, and Horsemanship and trail ridden classes. I am relearning how I ride so I can do well in this show. I have until the end of next month. I have my friend helping me and other club members. It does help that I had my horse started by a western trainer and I do think along those lines with how I handle and ride my horse.
    I am nervous but I think this is a good goal to work towards I think I can do it in the time frame I have.

  2. I will be getting my driver’s license at the end of January, so I can finally start taking riding lessons again. It’s been over a decade and I’ve not had a ride. I did get to ride a fee months ago and it was such a blessing. Even after two back surgeries, I am still able to ride to ride a horse. I cannot wait for my first lesson. It’s been far too long and well deserved, all around!!

  3. I have a hard time monitoring mine and/or my horses training goals in a linear, measurable way. I’ve tried some notes to myself in the past but can’t seem to stick with it for a longer period time. Sure, I can say I’d like to go to this show or on this new trail ride, but I’d like to be able to reflect and see if we’re really moving forward in a healthy way not only physically but mentally as well. I’m tired of feeling kind of stuck and not confirming our progress over time. My goal this year will be to review on a weekly basis and decide if we’ve moved forward, stayed the same or taken a step back. Then thinking about exercises to improve and a plan of action. 😊

  4. This year my riding goal is to get clean changes . . . and learn to count them properly! They have been a challenge for both Roo and me so it’s time to make them happen. 🙂

  5. My goal is to focus on transitions, making them clear, prompt and distinctul (especially down transitions, which can tend to be rather sloppy). This will keep both me and my horse focussed. If I am not happy with the transition, I will repeat it. I am hoping this will become an automatic expectation over time

  6. My goal is to improve my feel for my horse, and to improve on my position and aids for my first and second requirements- leg yields, shoulder in, and collected canter. My personal physical goal is to continue to improve my core strength by working out more often.

  7. Build my understanding and ability to give clear, more gentle and consistent communication with the horse I loan so I can perform the movements for my first public intro dressage test with scores of 60%+ at the nearby show centre using only soft leg aids (At the moment he moves forward with continual, fairly hard squeezes) and to perform halts and turns with the softest rein aids I can (at the moment he doesn’t always ‘hear’ my seat aids). By my 40th bday in July. The dressage test will help me measure the progress, though the goal for me is to improve the softness of my aids and the way I ‘ask’ so the horse can enjoy schooling with me more. Also to improve my basic skills so I can then build in more complicated movements to be more creative & make sessions fun for him (he is intelligent and gets easily bored, but seems to love it when he is allowed to move smoothly, when we do exercises that get him thinking and or when he is praised).

  8. I’d like to be able to canter—just basics like a 20 m circle—not even anything fancy—like it’s no big deal. Yes, I can do it but there’s always an issue—falling in, falling out, not round, too fast, not straight, whatever. I’m not talking about a one time thing here. Just to be able to go out every day and do canter work with the same attitude as trot work—yes there’s stuff to work on every stride but it isn’t stressful. That’s how I want the canter to be as well.

    1. Michelle, my goal too and you described it better than I could. Let’s both get it this year!

  9. I plan to spend the winter down time working to get Willow to not lean in when doing ground work starting at the walk then proceeding to the trot. She has gotten better but still really leans at times. This will lead to a more flexible ride under saddle.

  10. I want to set up cavelleti in a good working pattern for walk and trot. My horse needs to build up his hind end. I think this will build muscke and help proprioception.

  11. I have used many of the exercises and find my horse bending much better! Understanding the half halt and how to correctly use the outside rein has been our greatest accomplishment. It has made a world of difference. Thank you Kathy!

  12. Have a goal for 2019 to ride more and become more confident in my riding
    By using your books will help me keep me accountable and a better rider
    Looking forward to reading your tips and lessons in 2019 !

  13. Love reading your posts Horse Listening. Looking forward to more enjoyable reads in the new year and translating what I’ve picked up from reading into workouts with the girl. Best wishes for a healthful, happy and prosperous new year to Horse Listening and all your readers. 😊

  14. It is hard to set goals in the winter when you are at the mercy of the weather and frozen ground. But one goal I do have is to get my horse in shape again so I can take her to a dressage lesson by some time in February. She is just coming out of almost 3 months off from an injury so I know I need to take it slow. Even if I get on for only 20 min and only walk, it is better than nothing. And going on the trails and walking up all the big hills will help her build muscle too!

  15. I have rode for over 45 years but have never had lessons until recently. I have started lessons in Cowboy Dressage. I have found this site so very helpful in understanding what I am learning. My instructor is very detailed and I am improving in my form and can feel the difference in my horse. One goal is to ride correctly but my most important and immediate goal is to make my legs my effective and to keep them still. I bump too much.

  16. Working with my young horse and improving her strength and ability to sit so she is ready for first level by the end of the year. For me I need yo find a yoga class and commit to at least one class a week.

  17. I have two goals for the year. The first is working step by step to get my yearling trained to ride and put him in a walk jog class in September. My second goal is to work with my two year old to get his left lead and win a green horse class(walk jog lope)by September. These are lofty goals and very weather dependent so I have given myself plenty of time!

  18. Goal for the first quarter of the year before show season is to fine tune my transitions between the gaits. Whether I am going up or down I tend to collapse in my upper body which translates to my horse. I need to break it down to bit size chunks to tackle the bigger piece. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  19. Currently trying to master the flying lead change, or I should say “we” are trying to master! Thank you! LOVE your articles!!

  20. After my long time horse, Image died in 2007 from colic at the age of 27, it’s been hard to get back into the show ring. I have her grandson, Bronz and his bud Diesel they are in their mid teens and ready. However I need to get back into shape myself, I’m close a couple of months probably would do it. I feel I’m letting them down, they get excellent care,etc.. I have volunteered and helped out at local Horse shows of which I have been a member since 1975, when I watch the shows while judging trail class there is something inside wanting to “Get back in there again”. My dad says I’m over the hill and should just get out of horses all together. BUT I don’t agree, so I try and ignore him, but it’s hard still. I get distracted easy with all the other work things that need to be done. 🙂

  21. My goals are to continue to develop connection and communication with my good grey horse, working on softness and good use of my body to help him, and finally achieve our flying changes (now that we are getting to that place together)

  22. My goal is to confidently ride the canter at speed and core fitness. I love to canter but I hard a hard time controlling the speed, I believe my horse senses the lack of confidence as fear on my part, and they will speed up and go wherever they want. I want to be able to control the speed and direction confidently

  23. My goal for the new year is to focus on becoming one with my horse, with proper seat and leg positions, quieter hands, doing more groundwork, and doing more liberty work. By doing this I am hoping to get a partnership with my horse based on trust and understanding rather than just another training session (even though it will have some training involved but it will not just be training and so serious but where both me and my horse can have “off time” from our training schedule)

  24. (In reading all of the goals, I want to say…”me, too!) Going back to basics, my goal is to develop adequate and consistent impulsion with out “yelling” at my horse so that I can improve all the other parts of riding such as bend, smooth transitions, etc. Longer term, my goal is to compete freestyle dressage.

  25. I currently work with horses, but have done many other jobs in my life. As I am based in UK my standards are based on the British Horse Society’s levels. I would really like to achieve a qualification which used to be called BHSAI,(British Horse Society Assistant Instructor), But is now called Level 3 Coach in Complete Harsemanship. I Don know why they included the word “man” into it, but they did. Maybe I’m being too PC, but in 2018 I would have said horsepersonship.

    The last rxams I need to do to complete my goal are stage three flat and stage three jump riding. As I didn’t start riding until I was 40, I’m obviously stiffer and less used to riding than a lot of my younger colleagues.

    But I still think it’s a goal – if I can’t achieve it I’ll have to take yet another career change!!

    But I would love to achieve this qualification!!


  26. My “new” pony is coming off an injury, which happened shortly after I got her. Our goal is to get her fully recovered, then work on acclimating her to different locations. She apparently had not been off the former farm much, and her job with me is to participate in lessons, trailering to various locations, and trail riding, happily and calmly. So, in a month we can start some PT for her. Probably spend a month doing that depending on her recovery. Then, as it warms up in March/April, I hope to start gentle walks in hand around the property and neighborhood; riding will be dependent on how quickly she recovers and acclimates. By summer, I hope to that we are both going out on trails and to baby dressage lessons safely and quietly. I’m really pretty simple at this stage in life~! Long term goal is to get her light to the aids and moving out freely. Is this too many?

  27. My goal this year with my young horse is to be schooling all First level movements easily by the end of the summer. I plan to achieve this by taking weekly riding lessons and riding at least five days a week!

  28. This Fall, I purchased a horse who had not been ridden in about five years. He is quiet undersaddle but out of shape and rusty. I would like to work towards helping him move straighter and more freely forward.

  29. My riding goal in 2019 is to start at a neighbour’s arena, taking my boy Blue and his companion horse Ginger. I want to school with games to keep it interesting and when they are both comfortable I will start to pony Ginger. When spring is here and the footing is good again I plan to ride around my farm, ponying Ginger! I’m in my 70’s and although this may sound rather a simple goal, it will keep me in the saddle enjoying a passion that stated 70 years ago. I do enjoy Horse Listening and add your ideas to my bank of knowledge. Learning and improving is a truly wonderful thing.

  30. I am a 65 yr old woman riding a 14 year old OT Arabian. I have been trying to find out what it is that Rudy likes to do and recently an animal communicator said he wants to be a dressage horse not an endurance horse. So, this year we will BOTH begin learning something new. Go figure, I thought endurance was a natural! This old gal needs to learn to feel and he will learn to flex, we have our work cut out for ourselves.

  31. I adopted two feral mares in the latter part of 2018, so my training goals revolve around them. I am hoping to get them working in harness and under saddle, but step two is getting them to trust my touch. To that end I am doing a lot of “listening”: watching, catching every flicker of movement and attention, recognising the tension and the relaxation, seeing the dawning understanding in their eyes. I want to make their transition to domestication fear-free, so I am working on reading them better. It is already resulting in better communication with my trained horses, but I am really trying to develop a feel here, a new understanding of what we do and our relationships with horses.

    To that end, my goal for the first part of 2019 is to have Anya and Bronwynn accepting and understanding of human touch, and enjoying that level of human contact: accepting of pets, scritches, feet being lifted and accepting of a variety of grooming tools. Mid year I hope to have them working well in the round and accepting of harness and tack: able to move out or stand still at the trainer’s request; walk trot and canter, turnback and reverse, with variations in the gaits, and comfortable being fitted for and wearing full breast-collar harnesses and English or Western tack, including bridles. By the fall, I hope to have them well-started under saddle, and be building their acceptance of all the myriad weirdnesses of life as a domestic horse.

    The challenge for me has been to keep my timeline fluid enough and yet my program progressing, dependent on the communication from the mares. They are adult horses who have had very little human contact, so this is more work than it would be normally.

  32. My goal for 2019 is to work on my bending and keeping my horse properly round in accurate circles, with no straight edges.

  33. I’ve been away from riding for over 5 years due to health reasons even though I started riding when I was six. Now it’s time to start again. I’m in my late 60’s so a goal is definitely needed both for me and my horses. With me not riding, they haven’t been riding either! They’ve been on an extended vacation!!. But both of them are getting up in years too so I need a plan to take both their situation and years and my situation and years into consideration. I’m an avid reader of all your blog posts and now it’s time to put them into action 🙂

  34. My dream all my life has been to learn to ride, and with balance, comfort and confidence – for both me and the horse and at any gait.

    I finally took the leap to learn to ride and started to take lessons one year ago, age 40. I’m absolutely loving it for so many reasons, but also realising it is a life long journey and filled with many frustrations and fabulous growth spurts.

    My focus for first six months of 2019 is to work on the canter: smooth transitions, and to remain balanced and light in the canter on the 20 mtr circle – regardless of direction.

  35. Having come off at the canter a few years ago it has taken me some time to trust that gait again. I have a new partner whom i trust will carry me forward into the dressage ring this spring with a goal of leaving intro behind and beginning training level tests, including canter work by years end with a long term goal of someday succeeding at 2nd level.
    We are also joining Horsemasters, the adult version of Pony Club, with my grandchildren. They are encouraging me to try some low level jumping (something i have never done) with a goal of competing in Rally together in 2020.
    If you are going to dream, dream big.

  36. I am 65, my horse is almost 24; he is helping me learn to ride (dressage? though he used to be a jumper). Our goal for the year is to improve my ability to get him to collect well, while keeping the power, and (as ever) working on our turns. I believe we will need the year to at once continue to build his strength, and to train my muscle memory. (We have been working together over 4 years, and I am indeed -gradually – learning to ride. 🙂

  37. My goal for this year is to rehabilitate my gelding back to soundness from a soft tissue injury. With a careful methodical plan that’s well tracked in my new planner I’m confident in my goal. Thanks to Horse Listening Practice sessions I have multiple excercises to choose from and can modify them to suit my horse’s needs.

  38. My Goal is to really work on my position and master the use of my seat.
    Also to strengthen my horses top line and create even more suppleness.

  39. Earlier this year I did PT for a shoulder problem. After 4 weeks I was able to stop treatment. I have recently realized I had some of my beat rides at that time as I’m sure it strengthened my shoulders and back. My goal over the next month is to include several times a week upper body work to regain the pleasure of it coming together by my being more fit. At 67 you sometimes forget your body is working against you. Here’s to many more years of riding!

  40. I want to be out competing at BD Novice again by April and feeling happy about our canter work. So I will be building up the canter work week by week to improve our fitness and concentrating on soft elbows and not pulling back in transitions, then on canter,trot, canter transitions,then walk transitions and the counter camter

  41. My goal for 2019 is to find a new horse. My heart horse died unexpectedly last year and I’ve been waffling about getting a new horse. I have to really decide if I am going to concentrate on dressage or if I am looking for a trail horse that I can do dressage on.

  42. I want so much to be able to improve my (I currently do a yoga & rider specific exercise program that I have seen measurable results with) and my horses flexibility and fitness. Many times I can not ride but I would like to handle the horses in gentle soft “fun” effective ways that can ease them into ground work that includes ground poles eventually. I started out riding and just loving being on a horse & have now learned how beautiful a fit flexible mentally engaged horse can move. One of my goals in improving my horses movement on ground is so I can mentally transfer that “what would that feel like” information into my riding. Mostly I find myself in la la land with not a whole lot of “feeling”. I have been very dependent on trainers but find when left to my own devices I fall quite short but with the Practice Sessions & Horse Listening I feel my confidence increasing!

  43. I’m riding again after a 40 year hiatus. We recently bought a 10 year old Arabian gelding who has been manhandled and is a bit spooky and moved him to anew barn closer to our home. I plan to work building trust, suppleness and confidence by working with him and encouraging him daily about the step stool, other distractions and ground and dressage work.

  44. I’m looking forward to finally being able to ride my Strider! I have had him backed but everytime I was ready to ride him, he injuried himself. I am getting him backed again now that life has settled. I would use this book to plan and journal our journey! Onwards and upwards!

  45. I recently acquired a lovely palomino QH gelding. He needs reschooling. This will be the first time i’ve reschooled a horse on my own with no trainer to guide me. I’m excited to see where this will go after 17+ years of lessons and tutelage from great horse people I have worked with. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the testing my horsemanship skills this year.

  46. My mare was injured a year ago and between the demands of my business and family, I have not been able to bring her back to riding condition and enjoy her. My goal this year is to bring her back, and be riding her 4 times per week by March 31, and then be able to use her in my lesson program by September 1st. I know that by investing this time in my mare, I am really investing time in myself.

  47. My goal is for me and my mare to learn flying changes this year. We have been working 3rd level for over a year and have competed at 2nd getting mid-60’s, but she is inconsistent at getting the changes in her hind end with my trainer and I’ve never gotten a clean change from her. Ideally, I would love to compete at 3rd level and get my bronze medal too, but the training is more important to me than competing. Most important to me is continuing to build our positive relationship together and learning to be a better rider and horsewoman! I’ve had her since she was a yearling and it’s been a long journey but so very rewarding!

  48. I would like to be showing 2’3” and schooling 2’6” regularly by the summer. I would also like to have a jumping or dressage lesson each month as I have to haul a ways to have a good lesson. I would also like to attend more clinics.

  49. My goal is to do a preliminary level dressage test for real. Been practicing several patterns now. Also plan to build stalls and pAddocks and bring Runic my leased horse home to our new acreage and get my boarding plans ready -lots to do!

  50. Listening to my horse and having a conversation with her without speaking. Becoming in tune with her . I have to learn to speak her language and listen to her