Why riders need a word of the year

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Are you a new years resolution kind of rider? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants and take each challenge as it comes? Well, either way, I’ve got something to share that you may find helpful. We’ve shafted the tried and tested (and failed, many times!) new years resolution in favor of the much trendier word of the year.

But it’s not just a trend thing. We started picking a word of the year in 2017. My husband and I sat down, chatted about the year we previously had and the things we wanted to achieve. We each picked our word, wrote it on the whiteboard in our kitchen and used it as a way to set our intentions for the year, instead of some rigid rule. For what it’s worth, last year I picked ‘Growth’ (personal, professional, riding my then 6 year old Spanish Warmblood for the first full year he had been in work), the husband picked ‘Action’ (he is a bit of a procrastinator if I’m honest) and our two year old daughter couldn’t decide between ‘No’ and ‘Biscuit’ (so she picked both).

A word of the year might sound a little bit woo-woo, but it’s a constant and gentle reminder to focus on creating positive changes towards your goals - any goals that you have really across any aspect of your life. So every riding lesson where I sweated, where my body hurt, where I wanted to cry because it was so damn hard, where it was freezing cold or pouring rain, every setback and injury we had I kept my word growth in perspective. Was this helping our growth? Did this activity speak to my growth goals? Every time we had one step forward and two steps back, could I still see growth in SOME way? Was this a positive step towards what I wanted?

Riding young horses whilst having young children is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, it took all my patience, tolerance and organisation skills to continue in 2018 when 4 out of 5 rides felt terrible and unbalanced, you have a toddler tantruming on the sidelines of the arena or the cold, dark winds are blowing through at gale-force levels and you really just can’t be bothered. But I needed to do it, to remember who I am at this hectic life transition point I am currently in more than anything. 

My word for 2019 is THRIVE. The enormous list of nouns and verbs that churned in my head was hard to break down into just one. But I focused on setting intentions that made feel good, rather than punishing myself with something I couldn’t achieve. It’s not that I’m frightened to stretch myself (I’m not), but I want to be kind to myself, and I felt like Thrive would help me to do that. Early this year I will go on maternity leave from my day job, become a parent to two children, be kind to my body as it recovers from the marathon of growing a human and giving birth, give my business the nurturing it needs to continue, and hopefully, HOPEFULLY half way through the year I will bring my now 7 year old back into work, build his core strength through ground and liberty work and then get back on and start working towards improvement.

So choose a word for the year, it’s not too late. Write it on your mirror, or stick it in your car, or up in your tack room. Every time you ride – be purposeful, use your intention for the year to ask – does this create positive change for me to continue to move towards what I want?

Ash xx


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