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New Years. I love this holiday, and not just because of the New Years Eve parties. I see New Years as a time of fresh beginnings. A time to both look back and celebrate the successes of the year but also to look ahead and dream about the future, and then start putting a plan in place to make that future real.


I’ve never been a fan of resolutions, because the word suggests that we are resolving, willing ourselves, to do something or to change.

Goals are different. A good goal can inspire us and pull us towards action. Goals can remind you of why you are working so hard and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

This year, I want to do something a bit different. You’ve probably heard lots of tips for goal setting, so I want to focus on a different part of this process, reflecting. I am often guilty of making big lists of goals without thinking about what I’ve already accomplished or what is truly important to me in the next year.

  1. What have I done/ learned that I am really proud of?

Think back on the year, what are able to do now, or what are you comfortable with compared to where you were last year.

  1. What were mistakes I made and what did I learn?

Focus not on the little mistakes, like “I always lean forward at the trot”, but focus more on the bigger learning opportunities. Maybe you changed trainers and then decided to go back, or perhaps you tried a new discipline but then decided it wasn’t for you.

  1. What am I willing to let go of?

Are there things you have been putting a lot of pressure on yourself to complete or to learn that you could just let go. If a goal stays on your to-do list year after year without any progress its worth reflecting on whether that goal is even something that’s important to you at all. Maybe it’s a “should” goal that doesn’t have personal meaning to you, or perhaps its something that just isn’t important right now.

Watch the video below and then share something that you are proud of from this past year in the comments below!

p.s. Tune in next week to learn a simple trick for creating change – this could be a new habit you want to create for yourself… like getting in shape or riding more regularly.

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22 Responses

  1. Three questions:

    (1) I started the year attempting to post the trot around the arena…just once. I’m finishing the year attempting to collect my horse’s canter and getting him straight between (little) jumps, and regularly trail riding a rescue Hanoverian that no other trail-riding tourists get to ride because he has trust issues.

    (2) There is nothing I would have done differently.

    (3) There is nothing I need to let go of because my goals are modest, and I think in another year or so I’ll be there: comfortable on the trail in all gaits, including jumping a tree trunk if necessary (no fences); solid horsemanship skills on the ground (communicate with the horse well enough so it wants to hang out and work with me even at liberty); enough arena dressage skills so it becomes beneficial for my horse’s strength, flexibility, and conditioning.

    As you can see, I’m a hard-core amateur!

  2. My big accomplishment in 2016 is the improvement I have made in overcoming anxiety about my riding lessons. With the tools and information from the Calm and Confident Rider course, I have been able to handle this so much better. I have maintained a riding journal, which has been very helpful. Sometimes, it is just as simple as reviewing what went well the last time and visualizing a good ride o prepare for the next lesson.

    I teach therapeutic riding lessons. I have found that it is a mistake not being prepared with a lesson plan every time. Although there are times when the lesson plan may have to be abandoned because of other factors, it better to be prepared with a plan.

    I have been taking lessons in dressage with one instructor and lessons in hunt seat with a different instructor. I have felt that this improved my versatility as a rider and teacher. I am now considering whether it is time to focus on one discipline and let the other go. This has been really helpful to make me realize that it is ok. Thank you!

  3. I am most proud of my improved relationship with my horse. He is a barn horse and a notorious scary-cat, and I only ride him twice a week. But now he drops his head for the halter and lifts his feet for cleaning without me even asking. When we are unwinding after a lesson or ride, he will go up to one of the training obstacles and gently snort until we quietly walk through it.
    My biggest mistake is riding too defensively, especially when I am sharing the ring. That worries Macs.

  4. My goal that I am most proud of is being able to ride my leased horse bareback and feel very secure in my seat. Riding bareback has really helped me learn to feel more quickly what the horse’s body is doing and how my balance is affecting her. My big mistake was taking a lesson on vacation at a barn in another state where the trainer had advertised herself as having school horses that were able to accommodate riders at 1st and 2nd level, only to find out the horses were mainly rescues and giveaways with little training. I learned that you can’t tell from a website what is really going on. What I would let go of this year is feeling like I have to ride every time I go to the barn. Sometimes just hanging out with my horse and watching the horse’s behavior is enough. I hope to get my own horse this year and will certainly be referring to the Training Journals frequently!

  5. In 2016 after a very nasty fall in 2015 which saw me break my calcaneum (the heel bone which keeps us upright), I took my time reflecting on when and where to start riding again, and I decided to change riding centres. I am 62, and live in Brittany and am now so happy to have found two friendly, understanding and caring owners and a herd of Halflingers. The owners do competitive endurance riding which gave me another surprise as I learn of this discipline. Once a week I either hack out in the most stunning scenery, or have a private lesson. I always ride the same mare, Missy, an 18 year old Halflinger, and she has helped me regain total confidence. I am much more in contact with the horse as a living, sensitive being and all my childhood passion for these noble animals has come zooming to the fore. I also regularly watch training videos on you tube, and frankly yours are among the best. Your 7 day riding course for free was superb, very clear, very easy to put into practice, and very right! This message is to say thank you. I now look forward to improving my independent seat and gaining more softness in riding, for my horse’s benefit as much as mine. On my last ride of this year I was asked to lead the ride and this was my best Christmas present! Missy went forward with ears pricked, alert and responsive to the lightest of aids, and I felt on top of the world, as indeed we are, every time we ride with joy.

  6. My (our) big accomplishment was doing so well when we returned this November to compete in a Judge Trail ride. Wildfire and I worked hard all year practicing many obstacles, plus backing and side pass, etc. The horse and rider are judged separately. We moved up into the Novice group this year and we both won first place. I’m so proud of my girl, she made us both look great!
    My goal for the New Year is to improve our lunging skills.

  7. Biggest accomplishment – Getting my horse show anxiety under control. What would I do different? – Not pick up the wrong lead in front of the judge at the local series finale where my horse had laid down two perfect hunter trips with a professional rider (I’ll never live that down 😉 But we still got a ribbon in the class and he was Champion in his division) What would I let go of? Tough question – probably my doubts about what we can accomplish. I’ve seen my boy do amazing things this year and I’ve made great improvements myself. I now have confidence that we CAN do whatever his body will let him do. Can’t wait to see what the future holds!

  8. by Darlene Keenan
    Well, I’m a new rider and I finally cantered this summer. I loved it-even though it was the horse wanting to get back to his friend; I still did it. Some mistakes are just my lack of skills as a rider that I want to improve and sometimes allowing my horses to do things that I shouldn’t allow. Goal for 2017 is to keep trying and to ride as often as I can and to try to get the horses trained as well as myself 🙂 I’m enjoying the ride to get there that is for sure!

  9. I’m proud of myself for moving forward with my dream of being around horses and learning to ride. I started this year in May and when I think back…I couldn’t even mount correctly or do that without feeling uncomfortable. Then I began learning to find a balanced and secure seat by listening to you Callie and trying to ask questions when I didn’t understand. I’m also proud of getting better at the trot and that I’m beginning to canter now. But I’m mostly so happy and proud that I’m beginning to communicate with and understand more about horses…their behavior and about how to train and improve their symmetry.

    One of the mistakes I made was going to another barn for a lesson and upon hearing the typical instructions of ,”drop your heels and straighten your back”, I voiced my opposition which may have made the instructor uncomfortable. In hindsight if I was working with someone new I would get a feel of their background and strengths in teaching and if they have a tip I would try it but respond in small increments as long as I felt my safety was not in jeopardy.
    My goals this year include learning/doing more ground work training and more riding. Thank you, Callie. I couldn’t have done all of these things this year without meeting you.

  10. 1. I am so proud that I am riding again at age 63 after a 40 year absence. I found a wonderful barn and a wonderful, patient trainer. I am so thankful for every minute I spend with a horse!
    2. The mistake I made was stopping riding for so long and what I learned is that I am not too old to start again. If someone is out there thinking of riding for the first time or starting again, do it!
    3. I am willing to let go that I will never have the flexibility that I had in my teens and 20’s and that I won’t be embarrassed that I may always need help getting on and off. I used to lay awake the night before my lessons worrying about mounting and dismounting, but finally decided that it doesn’t matter how I get up there, as long as I do.
    Happy New Year everyone! Cali, thank you for your wonderful weekly emails–I have learned so much!

    1. Wow, Deb! I hope it’s okay to also reply to your comment. I too, am 63 and starting riding for the first time ever at 58. I agree with you in encouraging anyone that they are not too old to start or return [so long as you have a good and patient trainer]. Yes, everyone, let go of feeling embarrassment over riding at a different skill level than those around you. Be present with your horse and give thanks for every ride. — Callie, you’re the best!!

  11. (1) I started riding! After six months, I can post the trot and manange to keep my seat at the canter. 🙂
    (2) In the begining I did not ride often enough – about once a week. While work makes it difficult to ride more often, I have upped the frequency.
    (3) I wanted to make more progress than I have. Given how (less) often I can ride, I have made my goals more modest. If I can ride on the trail in all gaits confidently in the coming year, I’ll be happy!

  12. I started at a new barn with a wonderful trainer who started me from scratch, explaining what my actions meant to the horse, noticing every little thing I was doing wrong so I could correct it and giving me credit anytime I made an improvement. I am most proud of the changes in my personal life so that I’m in a more relaxed, calm mindset at the barn, able to give better cues and get better results from Lacey. I’m very thankful that for a lot of the year my instructor has had me on the same horse. My goal is to respond to Kodi’s instructions right away and without fear because when I do they bring positive results in my horse and then my riding.
    Your videos have given me so much more knowledge that has led to increased confidence. The journal you sent is my constant companion before and after lessons, for review of the previous week’s lesson and note-taking after each lesson, both absolutely essential for me. Thank you, Callie!

  13. Callie, Thank you for all of your help in 2016. What I am the most proud of is getting on my horse and riding. I still make some mistakes with Jack and he and I are learning to forgive each other and give it another go. What I would like to let go of is being hard on myself if I don’t get to work with Jack everyday. Your videos help and your natural calm way is a gift. Welcome to 2017 Callie.

  14. Callie,
    Thank you for a year of blog postings, events, on-line classes and more! I look back on 2016 with a big smile as it was a great year of riding and horsemanship for me.
    I feel blessed and proud of two things: 1) the ability to ride each week with a kind, patient and knowledgeable instructor, who presents information in a clear and concise manner and if that doesn’t work, tries a different approach. Thank you, thank you. 2) my 2016 goal was to be able to canter (no qualifier other than to be able to ride more than one or two strides). I was able to accomplish this by the end of the year. It took me almost the entire year to become comfortable with the speed and motion and to find my balance and seat. I now look forward to cantering and to fine tuning the gate in 2017.
    2) The mistake I made, like Deb, was thinking that I was too old to ride again. I am so glad that 3 years ago I decided to take up riding once again. The difference I felt this time around, was that I wanted to learn as much as possible. Not just about riding, but I wanted to learn more about horses, their behavior, care and health.
    3) I don’t feel like I need to let go of anything specific but I do try to focus on the positive achievements each week, even if they are small. As long as I see incremental improvement and am still excited to be at the barn and around horses, I feel like I am going in the right direction and that makes me happy. I try not to be hard on myself but celebrate the process and the journey of riding.
    2016 was a year of great fun, great riding and increased knowledge. I look forward to more of the same as 2017 begins. I want to thank you for helping me on this journey and for inspiring me to become a better rider.
    Happy Trails….

  15. I am a beginner at 50 and proud of getting back into the saddle after a fall. Thank God nothing happened. I am also proud that I took my time to get back into the saddle and although owning 2 horses I went to a equestrian centre to ride a school horse to gain my confidence back.
    The mistake I made was not listening to my horse. She showed she was not happy leaving the other mare behind. I didn’t listen.
    I need to let go of the past. Be in the moment …. that is what horses are teaching me and I try to listen. 🙂
    I love the CRK training video’s and wishing all a Happy New Year,

  16. 1. What have I done/ learned that I am really proud of? I regressed into progression. After an accident my relationship with my horse became broken. We no longer trusted each other and I began to think I would have to rehome him. Rather than send him to a trainer, I completely restarted him – literally went back to the beginning where he learned to stand still – not move a foot – until I asked him. We’ve redeveloped and strengthened our bond and are making faster progress toward our goals.
    2. What were mistakes I made and what did I learn? I was made to understand that I had not been a good leader for him and he tried to make up for my shortcomings. I was inconsistent with my corrections, letting him get away with things sometimes and correcting him others. I learned that I MUST be consistent at all times in whatever I ask. If he steps back when saddling, I put him back in the same spot before continuing – even if I have to do so ten times. Now he trusts me to do the same thing, ask the same way, every time, and he no longer wonders if I really mean what I ask.
    3. What am I willing to let go of? Sometimes we don’t even ride, we just saddle and mount then dismount. Other times we ride only 15 or 20 minutes. I’ve let go of having to ride a set time period as the end result; if he does what I ask, short rides or none at all are his reward.

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