Ready to make those New Years Horsoloutions?

If you haven’t heard mention of this already, it’s a new year. Which for me always calls up the need to evaluate, celebrate and speculate on what I am serious enough about to call an actual Resolution. As always, improving relationships, health and fitness tops the list (I generally fall woefully short in all three, but nevertheless, I keep striving to do better), and hot on its heels is always fiscal fitness (Sigh. Is it tax time again? I thought we just had that!).

But since I’ve had these Midlife Horses, another category has cropped up in my yearly resolution cornucopia . . . and for lack of a better term (and with an unforgiveable penchant for clever wordplay, however weak it may be), let’s call this one our Horsesolutions.

What’s your 2012 horse year going to hold for you? What do you want to do with your horses NOW, with a brand new year stretching out before you like, as Anna Quindlen says, “glittering mica?”

Another favorite resource of mine, writer thinker and real life guru Martha Beck (and if you don’t have her new book yet, RUN, don’t walk to your favorite bookstore and get it. It’s called Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. You’ll be amazed at how just about everything in it applies to our Midlife Horses journey!), says in this month’s O Magazine that clarity, or being specific about what we want is how we get what we want. Likening vague and general goals (like “I want to ride better”) to going into a restaurant and saying “Bring me something delicious,” Beck advises us to get clear and specific about exactly what we want and how we want it. (“I’ll have the 6 oz filet, medium rare, with black pepper only as a seasoning. I know that usually comes with a baked potato, but I’d like garlic mashed potatoes, no butter, and grilled, not steamed, asparagus.”) Now, I should also probably tell you that just as the waiter will most likely spit in your food, our horses will deliberately poop exactly we have no choice but to step in it as they fulfill our specific request. But seriously, do you even know exactly what it is you want from your horse this coming year?

When my trainer (and bravery coach) Denise Barrows of Practical Equine Solutions posed this question on our first ride of the new year, I got that deer in the headlights look as my brain clunked around for a specific. Nada. Then I changed horses. Literally. Still, all I could come up with was just a big pile of vagaries and a whiny list of what I don’t want and the problems I’m still having. So of course, this launched a whole thought mission to come up with a clear, concise answer that fits where I really am right now with my horses — and where I want to be this time next year. (I’m still working, but I think I’m closing in on it. Will share it when I get it fully jelled.)

So here’s a little journaling exercise for you that I’ve been doing myself lately. Make a list of what you want from your 2012 horse year. Go ahead, think big — so big that you’ll look back on it for years to come as a personal milestone, your Year of the Horse. Make it exhaustive (not exhausting — we have enough of that already!); write down, as fast as you can, every single thing that comes to mind, whether or not it is actually achievable this year. We’re dreaming here. We’ll get real later. Couch it ONLY in positive terms (not, “stop bucking every time I get on your back,” or “lose the attitude and get that stick out of your butt,” but rather, “to move, quiet and forward, whenever I ask, at whatever speed I ask, with a willing, happy demeanor. ) Once each big goal is written, you can start to create the baby steps that will take you there. Then you can figure out how many of these baby steps you can reasonably tackle in one year, given the amount of time you have to spend.

Experts tell us that writing down our goals has power and magic to it. I don’t know if that’s true or not when it comes to horse goals, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Are you? What do we really have to lose except a little paper and ink? And yes, I DO think it’s important to do this the old fashioned way. So go get yourself a cheap spiral or a pretty little journal, whatever suits you best. I like cheap spirals. Plenty of room to write (and sometimes draw and paste cut-out pictures or photos or clippings) with no pressure to be profound.

So how do we set specific goals with our horses, and yet remain open to the magic that inevitably unfolds along the way? I don’t know about you, but with my horses, I very often seem to think I know what we’re going to work on next, but then a whole new thing (most often an opportunity in problem’s clothing) appears that commands my attention and takes me to a whole new place — sometimes one I never imagined. Like writing a book, for example. It seems like there’s a fine line between being vague enough to invite the magic and specific enough to harness the power of clarity. Does anyone have thoughts on this they’d like to share?

Looking back on last year, I wish I had been smart enough to have written down as goals all the things we did achieve. (Thinking of making a retroactive list for last year just to stoke my ego) And here’s another question for anyone who want to play around with this idea with me. If I had written down different goals from what we actually achieved, would I have missed these other opportunities entirely? What do you think?

Weigh in on this, sisters, and go write down those goals. If you’re feeling brave — or want to help those of us still flopping around in this concept, post your 2012 Horseolutions below as a comment, on our Facebook page, Tweet them, or talk to us on YouTube. (Free t-shirt to all who post their 2012 Horseolutions!) In 30 days, I’ll create an aggregate list (names omitted!) to show a crossection of where we all are with our Midlife Horses.


Happy Trails!



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