Horse Nation Staff Writers Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

From personal goals to those with our horses, our staff writers are ready to tackle 2020 and everything it throws our way: check out our New Year’s Resolutions and share your own in the comments section!



I am a person who lives my life by to do lists and lists of both long and short-term goals. I am basically single-minded and can get very tunnel visioned, which I think is one of the more charming side-effects of being totally obsessive-compulsive. So, I am not usually big on New Year’s resolutions. But now that we’re rolling back into the roaring 20s, I do want to set a goal for myself. So my resolution for 2020 is to get back some of the joie de vivre that I had as a child.

When you are a kid, you aren’t perpetually stressed out or buried under to do lists. You live more in the moment, and naturally prioritize time with family and friends. So, that’s my goal for 2020, to be a bit more childlike. To be a bit sillier. And to spend more time with my family and friends rather than allowing myself to be crushed under a torrent of obligations like a real grown up.

Ashley as a four-year-old. Photo provided by Ashley Francese

Photo by Ashley Francese


Big mirror! Some of the 2020 resolutions are a repeat of 2019. (Sigh.)

  1. I will focus on my riding hands to make them more purposeful — and get out of them.
  2. Start my new book “My Hands Are Not Attached to My Ass — Beyond Horse Sluts.”  You’ll have to wait to see what that’s all about.
  3. Take the time to build a better relationship with the schooling horse that is a bit testy.
  4. Breathe.


My New Year’s resolution is to worry about my fitness and health as much as I do my horses!

I feel that at this point my personal health and fitness could be one key thing we may be lacking to get to the next level as a team. He eats a diet designed by a nutritionist, exercises and does strengthening routines… but I will eat anything that’s convenient (especially after having my son). 🤷🏻‍♀️

I have no program for myself — I don’t often read the labels on my food, and that equals quite a lopsided equation.

Also, as time marches on, I feel like this is one way to stay in the game competitively with the younger riders.


Like many, I don’t typically make resolutions. Of course I always want to be more fit, eat better and catch up on my laundry. But those thoughts are constant haunts and not really focused goals (for now). However, I do have one main goal for the coming year and now is as good a time as any to put it in writing, make it known to others and hold myself accountable for achieving it.

At each of the clinics I attended in 2019, the clinician would ask what our riding goals were for the year. Each time I was asked, there was a goal that would come to my mind, unbidden. I want to earn a buckle in cowboy mounted shooting. Ideally, it will be a move-up buckle, one that is earned from advancing a level. However, I certainly won’t turn down a clean shooter, class winner or really any other buckle that comes my way.

Although this may seem like a shallow goal, the root of it is that I want to put in the work when it comes to my horse and my riding so that we are competitive within our class and making forward progress. After dabbling in mounted shooting on other people’s horses for a few years, I finally have my own horse that will shoot and is finished enough to navigate the patterns. Now she just needs a jockey. So, I want to improve my horsemanship and course management so that I can do my horse justice. I want to focus on my chosen sport and see improvements as we work toward a buckle.

Photo by K D Gowins Photography


In 2019, my goals were 1. Do not fall off! and 2. Achieve my weight and fitness goals.

I’m delighted to say I did indeed make goal #1; 2019 included some super successful rides and zero “unplanned dismounts.”  It has taken far longer than I ever imagined for my right hip to feel comfortable riding again, and I’ve given myself the grace to stop riding broad horses simply because it’s too uncomfortable.

Regarding 2019 goal #2, that’s a “win” of a different type.  I did not drop sixty pounds, or even fifty, or even forty.  What I did drop was self-condemnation and damning myself because my fitness goals are taking “too long” to achieve.

For 2020, I have created a multi-faceted approach to healing, wellness, fitness, and weight loss.  This approach includes lowering stress, stabilizing finances (a direct correlation to stress for me), creating realistic expectations for myself and actively seeking joy.

To lower stress in 2020, I will create healthy boundaries (stop saying “yes” to every opportunity and only say “yes” to activities that give me true joy).  I will work with horses that are comfortable to ride and not condemn myself for this.  I will manage my finances better, even if that means saying “no” to numerous worthy causes I would like to support in tangible ways.

In 2020, I want to actively strive to emulate women who are fit and healthy, and “release with love” those women who have tried to convince me I am “too old” or “too fat” to even try to better myself.

Most of all, in 2020, I want to rediscover the joy of riding I felt when I was just starting out as a youth with my first horse, Sam.  I want to forget about artificial “goals” (eg, “participate in X number of clinics or shows”, etc.) and simply ride for the joy of riding.

If I can reestablish consistent joy in my life, I believe my weight and fitness goals will be achieved with very little effort.

Here’s to a joy-filled 2020 for each of us and all of us!


Resolutions are tough. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling that they can guilt-haunt you like a stack of still-not-sent-out Christmas cards. So, instead of resolutions, I’ll carry the following hopes into 2020:

  1. Write another book.
  2. Travel more (even if it is just downtown to a museum).
  3. Skip around the arena doing 2 tempis like Pepe Le Pew.
  4. Gallop on an empty, endless beach. I did this once in my 20s (in Ireland!!) and have been yearning to do it again.


I like to check in on my previous year’s goals and see how I’m doing before setting my goals for the following year: in 2019, I resolved to show my Thoroughbred more and continue to serve as an ambassador for the breed in the western world, plus the more sundry goals of starting the process of fixing up my barn and renovating my home office.

I did show Jobber quite a lot this past year, finishing the season in ninth place for green herd work and fifth in green horse box in the state reined cow horse association. I did also start the process of refurbishing my horse barn, which has been housing goats for the past three years while my horses lived out, and yes, I did finally finish my home office!

For 2020, my goals are to continue showing in reined cow horse with Jobber Bill: I want to achieve a herd work run in which I don’t lose any cows, and a boxing dry work score of 65 or better. I’d also like to get my new horse Regal Justice conditioned for some local shows as a ranch riding and pleasure mount. I also want to finish refurbishing my horse barn with two box stalls, a grooming stall and a new tack room!


With both my horses being unable to be ridden as 2019 comes to an end, I’m really setting my goals high for 2020.

  1. I’m going to work hard to move up a level in mounted shooting. Unfortunately it may not be with my shooting horse as he’s healing but I’m willing to try my hardest with borrowed horses.
  2. Travel somewhere I haven’t been in the US to ride. This past year I trail rode in New Hampshire and Gettysburg and had some amazing experiences and I want to continue with those trips.
  3. Enjoy my foal. In late March I am expecting a foal from my mare and I’m really excited to start the teaching process soon after the foal is born.

Photo provided by Marcella Gruchalak


While I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, 2019 was enough of a dumpster fire that it perhaps wouldn’t hurt to try to regroup for 2020. 😂 I have quite a few goals I’d like to aim for but I’ll spare you all and just list the three equestrian goals below:

  1. Successfully navigate an I-1 test with Wilson (AKA The Beastlet, For Willie). He’s had some difficulty with feeling overfaced in the ring so we’ve back tracked and worked on building his strength and confidence. I’m hoping that will be the answer.
  2. Get Milona DG, (AKA The Dame) going under saddle. She turns 3 this year and already has proven to be wicked smart and fairly tractable despite her red-headed mareness and all the associated opinions she has.
  3. Successfully train my newest family member, Bowie, and complete he Canine Good Citizenship. Bowie is my to-me-from-me-you-survived-2019 gift. 😂 He’s a Great Dane.

Photo provided by Morgane Schmidt

Photo provided by Morgane Schmidt


My primary goal for the 2020 is to strengthen and balance my four bodies of wellness: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each have equal importance in making us complete. Whatever my goals are, improving my wellness is how I plant the seeds that will make my goals grow into fruition.

In the upcoming year, I have the exciting task of starting my filly’s riding career. This gives me even more reason to lose weight and become more fit. Hopefully I won’t irritate her as much if I weigh less, and if I am more athletic, I will be more likely to stick the landing if we encounter any of those baby moments. And since I have the crazy notion of starting her without tack, I am going to need all the core strength I can get!

In 2019, I worked my butt off to get us on a better path financially, and I am happy with where we are ending the year. Our main goal is to buy a new house with property for my horses, so setting us up financially to be in the position to fix up our current house and buy a new one was a must. I have my fingers crossed that 2020 will be the year we find our new home, but in the meantime I will continue to put in the work.

Lastly, I want to carve out more time to do things in life that fill my soul, make me laugh and appreciate all that is good in my life.

Photo by Nicole Cammuso


I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions as I’ve always felt you can make those kinds of changes year-round. I can’t believe I’ve already been with the Horse Nation team for a year, and it’s been a strong year: I’ve written too many articles to count, informed readers on everything from FEI Endurance to CBD, started digging into a multi-part series examining the SAFE Act and horse slaughter, written book reviews, taken the reins of the Reader Photo Challenge (reminder: PLEASE everyone remember to include a photo credit when submitting your photos) and to top everything off, I earned an Equus Film & Arts Fest WINNIE award for one of my stories.

So, my resolutions for 2020 are:

  1. Continue and eventually complete my series on the SAFE Act/horse slaughter and solutions (and find a shorter, less unwieldy way to describe the series, while I’m at it – it keeps morphing as I work on it because it covers so much).
  2. Keep bringing you the full, high-quality assortment of news, entertainment and occasional first-rate ridiculousness (at least on April Fools’ Day – I don’t really go all out on the “ridiculousness” often) that you’ve come to expect from Horse Nation.
  3. My one “personal” resolution that I’ll share (again I don’t “do” resolutions, so this is the best I got) – find some way to shake up my routine at the gym so it isn’t so boring. Everyone should be riding fit, and I want to believe that exercise can be non-boring.