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Have you ever set big goals for yourself but then watched your motivation fizzle, and your progress towards that goal come to a grinding halt?

You can achieve your riding goals, by learning to create easy habits, no matter what your experience level or how much time you have.

In the last few videos we’ve talked about the power of using positive reinforcement on yourself to make the learning process faster and more fun, plus we’ve gone through some reflective questions to get you thinking about what is truly important to you.

Now I want to help you decide what you really need in order to move towards your goals, whether that means mastering the posting trot, learning to canter, feeling confident on a trail ride, or moving up into the next level of competition.

In this video you will learn how to achieve your riding goals – the easy way!


Scroll down and tell me one new habit you are starting!

See you in the comments,

If you want more, here are links to my favorite talks on habits, behavior change, and achieving goals:
The Power of Habit TED talk by Charles Duhigg
Change Anything TED Talk by Al Switzler
Forget Big Change – Start with a Tiny Habit TED Talk by B.J. Fogg

And if you missed the videos I mentioned in this show, here are a few more links:
Three Questions to Reflect on Your Riding
Using Positive Reinforcement on Yourself
Breathe Better When You Ride

Free Classes from Yoga for Riders

Improve Your Riding While Releasing Stress and Worry


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Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

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52 Responses

  1. My new habit for improved riding: ballet!

    The horse I’m riding for my trail lessons is a massive warmblood (a Zweibrücker, I found out), and I’m lacking the hip flexibility to drape my legs down his sides to keep my stirrups beneath, instead of in front of, my center of gravity. My instructor tasked me to practice pliés (in the second position) to open my hips and strengthen my groin muscles. That’s after my previous instructor told me to strengthen my psoas with a hula-hoop! I’m turning into a 6 year-old girl in my olden days!!

    1. I’m going to be starting a ballet class this coming week. I saw a video of myself on a horse, and it looked like I had my toes pointing outwards. Ballet could help to be more aware of things like turn-out or not turning out at the hips and with the legs.

      I like the idea of being like a 6-year-old girl in our olden days, as you said.

      This could be more of a wish than a goal, but I’d like to be able to do port de bras with my arms and upper body while straddling a horse. Does anyone think I could make that a goal? Maybe I could find some nice music for it. Does anyone have any ideas for that? In actuality, though, I don’t have access to the horses I usually get to see until February. Maybe I could start with my ballet class until then. I’d like to make it a habit to incorporate what I learn about my body in ballet and exercise classes, such as yoga, into riding and everyday life.

      1. Hi Carol, I am sure ballet will give you a lot of body awareness – which certainly helps with riding. I don’t know much about ballet or port de bra, but I looked up a picture and I don’t see why you couldn’t do it on a horse!

      1. That’s one reason I’m starting a ballet class. I’m also starting it because it’s just something I enjoy and there’s now a ballet class available for adults that will be starting up. I’ve taken some beginning ballet before. I’m constantly trying to make a cross-over between movement exercise and riding and, as I said above, everyday life. The reason I want to do port de bras while straddling a horse is because the movement can be so graceful when a dancer does them, and I want to feel that grace. The horse, and whoever else is around, will have to be okay with it. Port de bras generally refers to arm movements, but the movement isn’t isolated to just the arms, so that could be real interesting while straddling a horse, and I wouldn’t be able to use reins at the same time very easily, at least not two reins. I think the main thing with ballet and riding is the body awareness, and ballet happens to be one way to do that, and for me, an enjoyable way. Even if I don’t actually do port de bras while on a horse, I think what I’m after is just that feeling of grace, and that could help me with riding (and life).

        1. I love it! Can’t wait to hear about the different connections you make between ballet and riding. I am still working on aikido, and while I am very much a beginner, I love the learning process!

          1. I looked up Aikido and Mark Rashid. That was a while ago now, but I remember what he said about passive leadership versus what I would call bossy leadership. I probably can’t do a good job of summarizing that, so I’ll just say I really liked the idea.

            In addition to ballet, I’ve had a chance to take some Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes, so I’m kind of integrating those together. At the same place where the Feldenkrkais classes are, there’s an indoor climbing wall, so I’m integrating that in, too. All of these things have to do with physical movement and body awareness, which I hope will get me more comfortable with my body for riding. I’ve decided that, on the climbing wall, I want to try to climb my way up with the least amount of physical stress as I can, which I feel parallels with the Effortless Riding Course that Wendy Murdock is teaching. (I’m doing all this in the absence of riding, since riding isn’t available to me at the current time).

          2. I decided in my most recent ballet class, that doing port de bras while on a horse would be too complicated, but my ballet teacher did mention a portion of what we were doing that could be done on a horse. Now I’ve had a chance, though, lately to take some Awareness Through Movement (Feldenkries) classes, and there’s a lot in there about body awareness and movement that can be applied to riding. Last time in the class, we focused especially on our hips, how we were moving them and in relationship to our knees and our feet, also our torso. So then when I got a chance to watch a horse walk, I watched how he moved his hips, and when I walked with him, I tried more side-to-side movement with my hips, which slowed my steps down, and so he slowed his walk down. When I got on him, I tried to pay attention to how my hips were moving in relationship to his.

  2. This was very helpful. I want to ride 2 times a week and be able to go out on the trails solo (once winter is over and ground isn’t frozen. ) This practice fits in nicely with what I started doing a few weeks ago. I have a journal where I wrote down all the tools and resources I have available to help me improve my horsemanship and everyday I have to write down one thing…so for example if I watched this video or did some exercises etc. Using these suggestions I can start to apply more focus to make sure what I am doing will actually move me toward my goal otherwise it is easy to do a lot of activity without moving forward.

    1. Solo trails is my long term goal also. My mare is pretty spooky, so I don’t know if we will get to a comfortable point this summer or not, but we will do it eventually. I’m going to get there by trail riding more often with others.
      I’m also going to work on going out alone but I won’t push it. If I feel comfortable we will continue, if not we will stop. I’ll just try to get a little further each ride.

  3. Callie, has anyone ever told you you have an old soul? That’s a compliment.:0) It’s taken me a life time to figure out some things you address so well.

  4. Very nicely chunked into a small steps… the very thing needed to achieve goals. Well stated and
    demonstrated… Thank you,
    My goal, will be to ride 3 x week to develop my muscles and balanced seat.

  5. Hi Callie! This is great the way you have broken it down into baby steps and made it so simple. I am definitely going to work on developing the habit of watching videos to address the specific goals I have for my horse and me and also going to the barn at least twice a week after work.

  6. Very good video. Makes me want to track my progress with a journal. Also like the way you broke things out on paper – visual works best for me to remember steps to take to reach that goal. Thanks

  7. Callie, thank you for helping me see the steps I need to take. I will get a journal. I have some scraps of paper with notes from my lesson rides…written on paper towels! (the only thing I could find at the barn) A journal will keep it all in one place. My vague goal of doing ground work has become more concrete. I’ve been walking my horse every day it’s been to wet to ride. Today was day 3 of a more concrete step: one hour of ground work. Yay–3 days in a row! I can already see a difference in my leadership and calmness. One of the things I did today was to stand in a sunny spot and take deep breaths. On the 3rd breath my horse was breathing in rhythm. We stood there for 3 minutes breathing together. Reward!!

  8. Thank you for the video. It completely reinforces everything I have been learning through videos and books. I am looking forward to more of them.

  9. Callie, Another great video! My goal is to start journaling! I keep thinking of things I want to work on but tend to forget them in the moment of truth so to speak. Breaking down the goals into more attainable pieces, and writing them down, and making notes I think is key! Thanks for this clear, helpful presentation!

  10. Callie thank you for your videos, they are always great to read and unlike most other trainers, you start with basics, which we all need to remember and re inforce. This has been a great help to me.

  11. thank you again Callie,
    wonderful stuff!
    I”ll start journaling . Do have scraps of lists written up over the years, of goals, so it’s always a pleasure to tick something (so unattainable at the time) off!!!

  12. have been trying to— loosen my load– so to speak, an old song. learned from the other videos to let go of some things. i like knitting, a beginner but trying to learn new things takes commitment . would like to be a the barn twice a week. 2 lessons a week is a lot of money if I can lease can do ground time for less.
    my goal is to read 10 min day at lunch, walk the ring and breath, i know the horse like it, and work towards being able to lease. now just have to think of cues to remember this is what i want . the reward is being able to do any of this .

  13. I belong to a horsemanship club in Philly my goal is to get better at riding but i realized I need to feel confident around horses so I will do stall work and feeding to increase my comfort level I liked your video when you said start out by going to the barn I feel this will help me reach my better riding goal thanks Callie

  14. Hi Callie.thank you so much for this new habit is stretching and planking.i want to strenghten my core muscles and stay supple.i tryed this before but like you say it fizzled away.i will use the way you have explained and i believe this time i will be successful.:)

    1. Awesome, great habit – make sure you have a “cue” – something that will trigger when you do this 😉

  15. Last year was my first year to compete. Given that I’d never done competition of any kind in my life, this 60 year old “kid” was thrilled to ride in the Long Stirrup Division, and learn the basics of a Hunter/Jumper. This Winter we are refining my skills, working to move up to the next level at 2’6″, and go to more than 5 shows. In order to safely move up, I need to really hone the basics!
    First set of behaviors to improve: ride my horse on the bit, collected frame consistently throughout my entire lesson. (This is a new skill, so it is not consistently 100% yet). Keep subtle hands at the canter (I sometimes brace them, or they get too busy and then end up out of rhythm.) Keep consistent pace. A consistent 2-point, vs jumping into my toe, ending up his neck. We are working on these. We videoed my riding last lesson, which we’ll review this week. Also, I want to trail ride at least once a month with my barn friends…I think it helps my horses brain! (See how far I’ve come since last year’s Calm & Confident Rider’s Clinic? I did my first vertical course 2 weeks after the clinic…truly, a game changer to my wonderful local trainers’ program!)

    1. Bravo Harriet! I am so excited to hear about this. I am 62!! I am just getting back on a horse after decades away. I am loving it. You go girl.

      1. Go to the GYM, get your heart rate up, stretch, and ride as often as you can.
        I go to the gym 3 times a week so I can ride 3 times a week! My husband is thrilled even tho it was a 4-legged “tall, dark and handsome” that motivated me to improve my aerobic and strength fitness. btw, we have a gal at the barn who just turned 80. She only walks and trots her mare on the grounds and trails, but she rides about 5 times a week. A friend of a friend is 94, rides most every day, and still jumps. We each need mentors in how to grow up, while staying green and growing!

  16. Callie~
    Thank you for another great motivational video. A great way to start the new year. My goal is to ride 2x/week (one lesson, one ride) and to journal both rides so that I can track my progress and monitor it throughout the year. I did well with this in 2015, but didn’t stick with it in 2016. I also strive to do yoga at least once a week. I have been doing additional horse-related reading and on-line course videos which are helpful as well. Thanks to others for inspiring us with stories of women who are riding regularly into their 80s and 90s…now that is something to aspire too!!

  17. Hi Callie, Thank you for the wonderful pep talk. I’m 62 and have been back in the saddle about 3 years. I ride 3 times a week, one lesson and 2 practice times. I want to work on keeping a steady rhythm at the trot and the canter. Journaling is a wonderful idea. I used to journal when I took music lessons. It never occurred to me to journal about my riding. Journaling will also help me remember the exercises I did in my lesson so I can practice outside my lesson. I am also heartened by hearing other “older” riders commenting. Thank you.

  18. Hi Callie,
    Love your videos. I’m 55 just started riding lessons. I’ve always had a passion for horses and learning to ride has been on my bucket list. Watching your videos helps to reinforce tbings I’ve learnt in lessons. I like your journal idea because I’m only able to ride once a week. Writing down things that went well in a lesson so you remember how you got to that rewarding experience. It’s easy to forget from week to week.
    Newby to riding and loving it!

  19. This so wonderful that I have found this site. To improve my riding I am going to three days a week of ride time, I am going keep a journal better, and I am going to work ten minutes a day on my horses flexibility six days a week, and going to look at this blog once a week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. Hi Callie,
    I am really enjoying your videos. You make them easy to follow no matter what your riding level is. This particular video has inspired me to stop waiting for better weather or whatever other excuse I come up with for not spending more time working with my horse. Part of my problem is my lack of confidence. My goal right now is to try harder to overcome some of my confidence issues with a horse that is quite challenging for me. We often talk about rewarding our horses for good behavior but we forget to reward ourselves.

  21. Hi Callie,

    I just stumbled across your video and it makes so much sense. Small changes with cues and rewards. I never really thought of it that way. I already set my New Year’s goal to improve my health which means annual physical and all other needed labs PLUS getting into better physical shape. In that line, I am walking everyday – around and around the arena. It is a good workout as the sand makes me work a little harder. I started at 4 “laps” and have increased by 1 lap a day up to 14 laps. My cue is when I am done with AM chores, I go walk before I go back to the house and start something else. My reward has been that I am doing it every day and feeling much better! This helps with my riding as I am a better passenger for my horses. I also ride almost every day weather (cold) dependent. Thanks for sharing and putting all of it into a workable perspective!! I look forward to more!


  22. I love all your videos Callie, but this one really made me think. I have trouble remembering from one week to the next what I actually did in my last lesson. So, I’m going to start keeping a journal and listing three points, as you suggested. Thank you for all the time and effort you put in to helping all of us out here be better riders.

  23. Another “on goes the light bulb” video that transforms the “muddled obvious” (at least to me) into the straight-forward “duh” obvious. And now I also know the secret to working past flossing procrastination/guilt…start by flossing only one tooth! Seriously…that is such a fun idea/concept LOL.

  24. Hi Callie, I have a question. I would like to improve my seat and my balance. I’m a beginner and starting this beautiful horse journey at quite a late stage in my life. I’m 59. Anyways, I have 2 older Standardbred horses with whom I ride and do groundwork and try to get them to understand things that I’m working on. They are new to all of this fuss as well. Looking for advice to whether I should work on improving my balance and seat on school horses who already know what to do or continue to work on my seat and balance with my horses and at the same time working on them. Thank you for any suggestions.

    1. Hi Darlene,

      The answer depends a lot on your horses… are they quiet enough that you can walk around and do a few simple exercises, moving your legs, riding with a hand up, etc? If they are still green enough that you need to stay completely focused on them then going and working with a school horse would probably be more beneficial for you. However if your two are good enough to walk around quietly you could still practice some simple exercises with them!

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