Trail to 2021: Get Technical

Well, here we are in 2021.

I feel basically the same. I’m excited! I don’t think I’ve aged that much in the past few days by entering a new year.

But all kidding aside, there’s something so cathartic about a new beginning and a new year.

And boy, am I ready!


Well, here we are in 2021.

I feel basically the same. I’m excited! I don’t think I’ve aged that much in the past few days by entering a new year.

But all kidding aside, there’s something so cathartic about a new beginning and a new year.

And boy, am I ready!

Now, if you’ve been with me for the past few weeks, we’ve been very thoughtful about designing your next riding chapter for 2021… what makes you happy… and what you want to accomplish.

And, by the way, no matter your challenges and setbacks of the past, wherever you are right now is perfect. It’s enough.

It’s not only enough, but there’s true magic that lies ahead for you, if you choose to not only believe that but really know it.

In last week’s video, I very loosely used our mushroom tree analogy in our pasture, with the trunk being your personal strength. It’s what goes on within you to sustain you through all of the ups and downs.

Then I identified two more big pieces of riding, connection with your horse, which is your relationship with him or her. The second piece is learning your discipline’s technical skills, no matter what kind of riding you do.

In this video, we’re going to dig a little more into you designing your plan… and your story… for the technical side of riding.

By technical, I mean the mechanics of riding. This is what most riding instruction is about.

For example, how you sit in the saddle, how you use your legs and hands. Or what you need to learn for your particular discipline, like jump a fence, trail ride, work a cow, or whatever you need to do.

Technical skills span the realm of the things you absolutely need to know to ride a horse… to best practices.

Some people also think of ‘technical skills’ as doing what we need to do to get a horse to ‘do something.’ Sort of like A + B = C.

But, of course, technical skill development includes so much more than that.

Technical skills span the realm of the things you absolutely need to know to ride a horse well… to best practices.

Technical skills include past experiences, your skillset, your horse’s background, your horse’s skillset… and understanding relationship-building with a horse

Here are some thoughts for you as you think about making strides forward in your technical skills in 2021.

What do you need to learn from your perspective?

Who will be your mentor or mentors? This includes in-person learning, or online, or books, or DVDs, or a combo of all.

Learning happens in small increments. Small steps are truly the way. Celebrate them!

And one final thought… technical riding skills ARE critical. You must have them. No doubt.

But there’s more to the story.

What most riders want above all is a connection with their horse.

And while in the past that’s been kind of ‘elusive,’ it also has parts to it that can be studied and learned.

That’s going to be the subject of next week’s video.

Of course, none of the pieces of riding: technical skills, connection, and our internal state (as in our beliefs and navigation of fear and disappointment), none of these things exist alone. Of course not.

They are always totally woven together.

But the more we understand each of them, we can break them down so we can truly learn them.

We can objectively see our strengths and weaknesses in all of the areas, and decide where to invest our energy and how to methodically learn.

If you haven’t seen Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this Trail to 2021 series, you can see them all on my homepage at

I think they would provide a complete perspective for you as you continue to write your 2021 story.

Leave a comment for me about what technical skills you want to develop in 2021.

Happy 2021!!! Woohoo! Leave a message.

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16 Comments on Trail to 2021: Get Technical

  1. Pam on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 5:00 pm
  2. Hi Barb!! Happy New year 🎉…I spent 2020 becoming one with my horse…now if I could only become want one with my seat. Lol. Very few times per ride do I feel deep enough in my seat!
    My other goal is to meet you somewhere down the cutting trail this year😉. Pam

  3. Janice on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 7:04 pm
  4. Happy New Year! I feel like I’m into a new and promising time in my life. I have had a long struggle with having “connection” with my horse. The reasons have to do more with my inexperience and fears. We are learning to trust each other; and this actually just happened, this year. I look forward to tacking up without a fight and having pleasant rides (short ones, at this point).

  5. Nancy Burroughs on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 7:28 pm
  6. I’m so happy years ago I found you and started with mentally tough riding. That course had a major impact on my riding and showing and my life. Today I would like to tell you how much your work has still influenced me. A big thank you and a very blessed 2021. I’m going to take time now and write my story. Think of what I really want to do with my horse and the new one that’s coming. You are one special lady.

  7. Gretchen Ruffin on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 7:34 pm
  8. Happy New Year, Barb!
    My goals for 2021 are riding outside and control at canter.
    I get closer every day!
    It’s winter now where I live and very icy, so staying inside for now.
    The canter has always been an issue for me.
    I love your videos. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Cindy on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 7:41 pm
  10. Happy New Year, Barb. I love the way you celebrated. I am so looking forward to 2021 and learning from you. In your podcast with Warwick Schiller, you said something about how learning “recovery” has changed your life. I wanted you to know that it is changing my life AND my horse’s life, too. I get something out of everything you teach, but in 2020, recovery was my biggest takeaway. Thank you!

  11. ca on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 7:52 pm
  12. Hi Barb, Happy New Year !!! Well, for years I have wanted to take some reining lessons on a well trained reining horse. There is a reining trainer very close by so I need to get in touch and find out if I can take a series of 4 lessons just to “get my feet wet”. It’s nice to be finished with the Holiday Season, which has been very nice for us, but now a new year is starting again. And I am happy that the days are starting to get a couple of minutes longer each day–:) Thank you for the “pretty picture” that you and Nic make together!!

  13. Dawn on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 9:44 pm
  14. Happy New Year Everyone! I’d like to develop a more balanced and effective seat so I can move as one with my horse. I’d also like to learn more about “recovery” and how to teach my horses to how to recover.

  15. DeAnna Ball on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 9:47 pm
  16. My technical goal this year is to ride with my seat, and use soft hands. I had my first introduction to cow work last week.

    Don’t laugh, but I was afraid to take my horse into the pen. She was afraid of the cows, and I thought I would die. I almost took Sneakers back to the trailer in defeat! (Last year she tossed me when a mule joined us for a trail ride.)

    Luckily my friend saw I needed courage and she took Sneakers in the pen for me and showed her how to walk with them. That gave me the boost I needed and after that, I took Sneakers in.

    From watching your voice overs with some of our class members, I had learned a couple of things about position. I sorted out my first three cows. I was over the moon happy.

    When we left the area at about 11 p.m., Sneakers kept looking back at it. I know she was saying, “Ah, why did we have to leave so soon! I was just having fun!”

  17. Lynda Savenkoff on Sun, 3rd Jan 2021 10:00 pm
  18. Happy New Year Barb! 🎉 😀!
    Technical Goal for 2021: Learn to jog & lope over trail poles with correct form & cadence.

  19. Regina Raichart on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 7:38 am
  20. Happy New Year Barb!
    2020 for me was all about stepping up and doing the mental work to become a braver, stronger, better rider. Thinking about my 2021 goals I would like for focus on riding and competing in cutting from the technical aspects of herdwork, showmanship, and keeping my horse correct and happy with his job so we can continue this amazing journey together.

  21. Andrea on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 8:29 am
  22. Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing your positive perspective! In 2021, I would like to improve my riding enough to differentiate gaits better for my Tennessee Walking Horse. He has both the running walk and a natural trot. We spend many miles on trail and his trot allows him to cover ground efficiently. I am slowly learning to ask the running walk more but not always able to keep him in it.

  23. linda swain on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 8:36 am
  24. To do what is right for the horse…
    I used to ride bareback and really feel movement but hear that’s not great for the horses back?
    I want to learn more Cavaletti… Agility- since my horse has arthritis… So much to learn and feel!

  25. ls on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 8:37 am
  26. To do what is right for the horse…
    I used to ride bareback and really feel movement but hear that’s not great for the horses back?
    I want to learn more Cavaletti… Agility- since my horse has arthritis… So much to learn and feel!

  27. Judy on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 9:56 am
  28. Happy New Year Barb! I sure have enjoyed these last four videos. You always give us so much to think about. Listening to you always helps me stop and appreciate the wonderful opportunity I have been blessed with and that starts with just being able to own a horse. Owning a horse has been a blessing during these last few months. I love the way you breakdown the pieces for us, reflect, create a goal, plan and just do the right thing for us and our own horse without worrying about and trying to compare ourselves to others. I recently bought a new horse and am so excited to teach him and learn new skills from him. I especially want to build a strong relationship with him. I wish you all the best in 2021 and thank you once again for all you give us!

  29. Deeda on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 10:04 am
  30. Happy 2021. My goal for the year is to spend the time with my gelding, Jed, to make him the best dressage horse he can be this year. He has some talent and I have the skills (always working on the skill set) to make it to 2nd level this year. Because he is mine, it has always been easy to set him aside for others and their life priorities. Time for us!!

  31. KJ on Mon, 4th Jan 2021 1:19 pm
  32. When I got this horse several years ago I had reservations at my age, getting back into riding, and I knew that would look a lot different than before. I set about developing a bond and trust with this horse and did a lot of things “deliberately” and “slowly”. About two years in, I saw a dramatic change in him which caused me to trust him more. We seemed to communicate better. Might have happened sooner if I had ridden more often. I did visit each morning and each afternoon for feeding but infrequently did ground work or rode him. There wasn’t anyone to ride with, either, and I had really hoped to find and make some horsey friends nearby. I made some friends at clinics and lessons but they weren’t nearby. I went to various clinics and then some lessons initially just to get myself over fears and possibly meet some riding buddies. The more I rode, the more I relaxed and the more he relaxed. Riding him is my most favorite thing in life… why don’t I do it…why do I find excuses? He enjoys it, too and such a great boy. That’s my 2020 and I want more riding in my 2021.

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