From personal goals to those with our horses, our staff writers are ready to bid farewell to 2023 and take on 2024. Check out our New Year’s Resolutions and share your own in the comments section!
My resolution this year is simply not to stress. I tend to be a worrier, and having turned 40 last year, I’ve decided not only is worrying mentally futile, but also I can actually FEEL and SEE stress now, like on a cellular level — from a janky knee to the occasional blotchy skin tone. I’m also learning I’m incredibly capable when an inevitable foreboding *thing* does happen. I can handle it. And I’m not alone, either. I have an incredibly supportive husband and daughter to help me when I need it. Trust.
This year, I actually have “real” goals – that feels hokey, but it is nonetheless, accurate. Last year was a lot about keeping my head and my horses’ heads above water – but I’m going to go out on a limb here (while vigorously knocking on wood) to say that I think this year will be better. So… Of course there’s the perpetual goal of expanding the Thoroughbred Logic reach through more publications and clinics, but there are also goals for my own horses. I finally have a couple poised at getting back up into the upper levels of eventing and I am excited to try to prioritize them and see what we can do. But beyond that, I’m excited to swing a leg over as many Thoroughbreds as possible and to literally and figuratively enjoy the ride that will be 2024.
I’m fortunate to be able to look back on 2023 and say that, from a showing perspective, I had a good year. I moved up a level in mounted shooting rather faster than I had expected, thanks in many parts to my amazing shooting friends (who manage to be incredibly supportive while still constructive enough to help me along the way… and let me catch ride their horses when my own was having an issue) and to the awesome horses I rode along the way. I also crossed off a bucket-list item for me by shooting at the All American Quarter Horse Congress.
Photos by Gwen Palmer-Vrh
Looking forward to the coming year, my main goal is to improve my accuracy. I had a lot of misses this year, only a few of which I can blame on a nasty case of tendinitis that came from so much competition. Although I would LOVE to blame all the other dropped balloon on the same thing, that wasn’t the problem. Just my piss-poor accuracy and inability to focus. Second to that is to push Mac to go faster.
I also have a young horse to bring along. My 2020 filly, GETTINKNUDEFORMOOLAH (yes, you read that right), aka Jo, is finally old enough and big enough to get going. She was started under saddle last summer and currently is in training for mounted shooting with Elizabeth Clavette at Double E Performance Horses. I am looking forward to competing on Jo and, if she is ready, running her in the CMSA Futurity and Stallion Incentive. This is what I would call a loose goal because, in the long run, I want to have a solid partner and well-minded shooting horse in Jo. If she isn’t ready this year, then that will be fine. We’ll take things at her pace.
Finally, and perhaps my biggest goal for 2024, is to get a picture with both of my girls on their horses and me on my horse at a shoot. This seems like a small ask, but it’s surprising how few pictures there are of all of us together — let alone on horses. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that once I am done running a stage, I am off my horse to assist the girls with their stages. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing my girls grow as riders and competitors, and although I certainly am enjoying the moments (when I’m not yelling at the girls to stop fighting), I do want some documentation of them.
For me, 2023 was a rough ride. I experienced a great deal of change in my personal and professional life during the past year, including the worst riding accident of my 45+ year riding career. I am very grateful that after recovering from some very serious injuries, I was able to continue training horses and competing without any lasting negative effects. However, this experience has changed my perspective.
In the coming year, I am looking forward to focusing more on enjoying what I have accomplished as a competitor and trainer and being less focused on achieving the next big goal. This does not mean I don’t have big goals, or that I am taking a step back. It just means that as I move forward through 2024, I resolve to appreciate the results of all my hard work and experience more, and to allow myself to enjoy focusing on the process of training and competing. It is a privilege to ride and train horses every day, one that I previously took for granted, so my hope going forward is to appreciate the daily process and acknowledge the importance of living in the present. Sure, we all need aspirational goals, but I am reminded daily how integral being present in the moment is to finding happiness and contentment.
In 2023, I was able to compete again on my OTTB gelding The Love Monkey. We had not competed in three years because Monkey had kissing spine surgery and required a lengthy rehab. Monkey did great at the few barrel races we entered, but I struggled to find my timing. I even dropped my reins at one event which left me feeling like the embodiment of the facepalm emoji.
“Take lessons and attend clinics to improve my riding” would be my number one goal for 2024, but right now whether I’ll be riding or not is uncertain. After all Monkey has been through, he decided to try ending himself by slipping and falling in the pasture three weeks ago. I found him unable to bear weight on his left hind leg. We are still not sure about the extent of his injuries, but he definitely pulled, and possibly tore, major muscles in his hindquarters. Horses, I tell ya.
Monkey is my only horse of riding age, so whether or not I’ll be able to ride and compete this year will depend on how he recovers over the next few months. Not going to lie, his injury has left me feeling pretty bummed. I won’t be making any plans related to riding and showing this year. My resolutions for 2024 will simply be as follows:
- Spend at least one hour a day with my horses even if I can’t ride and even if it’s cold!
- Teach my young horse to lunge correctly so that he will be ready to start training this fall
- Stay fit for riding by running, hiking and taking classes at the fitness studio. (Note: the kickboxing class I just started requires strength and timing that just might help me not drop my reins at the next big money added barrel race.)
- Continue growing The Western Thoroughbred social media pages and website
- Find whatever bad luck demon is latched on to my horses and light it on fire. If that doesn’t work, tell it to eff off using symbols drawn below:
My main goals for 2024 center on showing my horses. I haven’t properly shown since 2017, so my main goal is to get my horses back in the show pen. Two of my horses are in a position to show, so I would like to jackpot Karma and enter Stark in a fall futurity. Plus, I want to enter at all four Alberta Ranch Horse Versatility Association events.
Last year, I had the goals to not let the barn hose freeze and to take more trail riding trips. Although these are still important for 2024, probably my biggest goals is to help my 10-year-old niece Kamille improve her riding skills and overall horsemanship so that she may be successful as a horsewoman. By doing this, I am able to instill in her the importance of great care and understanding to keep our horses happy and healthy for many years to come — of course with a 10 year old, a crap ton of treats will most likely be involved.
My other goals for 2024 mostly related to mounted shooting. You can read about them in my latest Triple Trouble article.
My New Year’s Resolution is not to get any more dogs.
That’s probably a lie.
As I noted last year, I don’t generally come up with New Year’s Resolutions. For starters, I think that vowing to make huge life changes just because it’s a new year (rather than when you probably actually need to in life) seems somewhat arbitrary. Also, habits are hard to change and, realistically, I’m fairly content to remain the same, snarky, flaming cannonball juggling, hot mess that those around me have grown to know and love. 😂 I mean, it works for me, you know?
That being said, as I get older I find that I spend a lot more time on self-reflection, which often results in an acknowledgement that there are some things about myself I should work on. So in the spirit of the new year, I guess we can call one of them my resolution. Last year my goal was to be more mindfully present and enjoy the moment. While I wasn’t perfect, I do think I managed to make significant strides. This year I’d like to work on being less of a perfectionist. (I would appreciate if all of you who know me in person would STOP snickering).
Obviously that fun little trait isn’t just going to peace out, but I would like to dampen it a bit and acknowledge that in so many things in life, the importance and reward lies in the process — which includes the mistakes AND failures — and not just the final outcome/product. This is pertinent not only in riding and training, but also in pretty much all areas of life. We are ultimately the result of all our experiences — good, bad, hilarious, questionable, and so forth — and it seems to me that being able to embrace the less than perfect parts is critical to growth.
Now, that being said, check back with me in a few weeks about how much I love the ‘process’ of teaching flying lead changes to the Red Dragon (or how many times I pawned that activity off on Gwyneth to do because I was sucking). 🤔😂
Happy New Year, Horse Nation! What are your goals for 2024? Let us know! And go riding.