Journaling your Riding Success

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

One of the most difficult things to do is to realize just how much success we are making as riders. When we start a new horse, begin riding the newest addition to our barn, coach people, or take a new path in our horsemanship we often experience starts and stops. We have these voices in our head, or voices from well-meaning people, who hold us back. As riders we often reflect back on that perfect ride we had a few years ago and compare every ride after that to the one perfect ride. Sometimes we listen to the naysayers and get caught in the negativity and forget just how much we have accomplished with our horse.

We need to stop holding ourselves back by comparing our rides to the past. We need to ride in the here and now. We need to ride and find ways of charting our progress.  Journaling is one of the greatest tools we have for keeping track of our progress as a rider. This also works great for keeping track of how well the horse is progressing along.

So here are five thoughts as to how to use Journaling help you improve your riding.

1) Make notes after each ride. Use a journal or a 3×5 notecards or some book that you can use to keep all your recordings in one place. For those who do not enjoy writing — make a tape recording or quick video of your thoughts about the ride.

2) Speak about those things that you really liked in the ride. Maybe your bending was better, you felt the footfalls, you picked up the canter/lope easier. Journal the successes of the ride.

3) Make note of those things that were not perfect. Maybe the backing did not go well or side passing was not perfect. Make a note and keep that on file. When you make these notes do not beat yourself up…write them down and get them out of the clogged mess of your mind.

4) Share your journal with your coach. Let him or her take five minutes to go through your written journal or listen to your recording or watch your video. It is amazing how much we as coaches can learn from what has happened on the five days before the lesson. We can hear what is working and not working and know immediately how to help you and your horse past that hurdle. As a coach we might also learn something about you and your horse that we did not know and that might just help us make a better connection and be better educators for you.

5) Review your journal once a month. You will be amazed at your progress and what things you have overcome. This is a positive motivator for your continued success. Do not read it every day. Keep writing, recording (video or voice) but only go back once a month so you can take that short walk into the past and see how things have changed for the better over the past 30 days.

I realize you may think you do not have time to Journal. Yes you do. Drink that bottle of water and write five lines of information after your ride. Record as you walk from the barn to your car or house. You have the time and you will realize the results with just a month of keeping track of your rides. Take the time and I promise you that your horse will thank you for paying attention to your collective success and the horse will reward you with even better rides.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


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