Journaling after horseback riding lessons is an excellent way to gain perspective on your progress as a rider, your horse’s progress in training, and to track how things like weather, feed, or footing impact your training progress. Many riders, especially horseback riders training for elite competition, use a training log or a riding lesson journal to gain mindfulness and insight into their riding or their horse’s behavior.
How to start a horseback riding journal
When I first started journaling my hours in the saddle, it was for a year-end award given to the rider at my barn who logged the most hours in the saddle. The first year that I earnestly journaled my riding, I spent more time in the saddle, grew my strength and skill by leaps and bounds, and I took home the award at the year-end banquet.
That year, I journaled my rides in a simple spreadsheet, but since then I’ve developed a greater appreciation for long-format journaling and how- according to researchers, it helps us make connections, appreciate meaningful experiences, and develop perspectives that we wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see. When I’m coaching horseback riders, especially those coping with psychological barriers to riding like fear, anxiety, or horse show nerves, one of the best tools I have for helping these riders grow happens outside the saddle, is helping them thoughtfully reflect and keep a riding journal about their horseback riding lesson.
Tools for journaling horseback riding
For most of us, long-format journaling is pretty tough. Who wants to sit down and think of words, phrases, and paragraphs to describe our ride. For a few, that may be a delightful pursuit, but for many of us, a fill-in-the-blank style riding journal template can be a shortcut that gives us virtually the same benefits with a fraction of the time.
That’s why I developed this horseback riding journal template. Originally just a scrawled series of questions on a photocopied page, these days I’ve developed my horseback riding journal template into a full page of simple questions that provide an opportunity to keep a record of important factors (like footing, weather, goals for the lesson, and highs and lows) without requiring long format riding.
If you want to journal beyond what this printable PDF journal template offers, you can try reflecting on the following questions
- What were the top three corrections your instructor provided in your last lesson?
- What new horse-related terminology did you learn?
- Any tack or equipment changes? Why?
- Are your riding goals realistic? What many goals can you place in between where you are now and where you’d like to be?
- Similar to a mood tracker in a regular bullet journal, consider pairing this journal template with a “ride tracker,” assigning a meaningful color to whether a ride was great, just okay, or terrible.
Why keep a riding log?
Riding logs, like a journal for any sport, are helpful for several reasons.
Personal. I think the primary use for riding journals and logs is for personal growth and reflection, helping us develop mindfulness and reflective capacity as we think about the challenges that we face with our horse or our riding goals.
For your coach. Riding coaches and horse trainers are expensive! Keeping a journal after your rides and sharing it with your riding instructor can help them gain insight into what’s going on for you and your horse, which may help you overcome challenges faster. Additionally, a journal can be a great place to tuck away questions you want to ask or clarifications you realize you need after you’ve left a lesson.
For your vet, farrier, and other horse professionals. Don’t underestimate the value of a riding log for your vet, farrier, chiropractor, or equine masseuse. While they may not care to know about your emotional reflections on the process of riding and training a horse, information about how often you’re riding, how you’re riding, and on what footing you are riding may prove invaluable as these professionals help you maintain the health of your horse.
For a future buyer of your horse. While likely not, in itself, good justification for keeping a horseback riding journal, a riding log can be helpful to potential future buyers – especially if it includes information about vet visits, farriers, show results, and other important information about your horse. A riding log also helps demonstrate to potential buyers that you have been serious about caring for your horse, which may help improve your horse’s chances of going to a great home.
Download my Free Printable PDF Riding Journal
Download A Printable Riding Journal
Final Thoughts on Riding Journals
Taking the effort to track your development as a rider through journaling may help maximize the positive benefits of horseback riding while helping you overcome obstacles with less struggle and cultivate gratitude as you observe your development as a rider.