I like to write down what I’m doing at the barn. I find it very helpful for remembering what I need to work on and tracking patterns in my rides or horse health. I track what I worked on that day, homework from my trainer or clinicians, what kind of mood Spicy was in, any weird weather, etc… I want to track it all. The more info the better! I’ve tried apps. I’ve tried using a regular notebook. I’ve tried emailing myself notes. I’ve tried taking notes on my phone. Nothing was really organized in a useful way. Once put down (or sent out) the notes disappeared into the universe never to be seen again (or with difficulty on my part). I’m SO happy to have been sent the excellent journaling products from The Equestrian Journal to try and review.
The Equestrian Journal offers a number of options to suit your journaling needs and budget.
– The Original – book bound notebook – 3 months
– Spiral Bound – same journal but bound like a spiral notebook – 3 months
– Disc Binder – Sturdy covers (different colors available) with removable/addable pages – 3 months
– Yearly Journal – a whole year of journals spiral bound
There are pluses and minuses to each of the systems and one of them will work for you. On a budget? Go for The Original (however it is more difficult to use since the binding doesn’t lay flat). On a budget but prefer not to fight with book binding? You’ll love the Spiral Bound (which is the least sturdy option and easily damaged – and ticks down durability a bit). Want lots of customization options and usability? The Disc Binder is the one for you (however it is quite a bit thicker for storage and pricey initially). Do you like to have everything all in one place? Then maybe you want the Yearly Journal instead (but it’s significantly more cumbersome to store). All versions have good quality paper that doesn’t show bleed through which is so important for journaling!
You can use this journal system in whatever way benefits you most. You can use it for one horse. You can use it for multiple horses. There’s a monthly calendar page. There’s a weekly page. There’s daily pages to get down to the knitty gritty. While there are prompts for writing areas, you can make this system as in depth as you wish. There’s always plenty of room for writing.
The Monthly page is an overview page to look at your month as a whole. I use this page to track ride days, show days, off days and note the daily “rating” from the Weekly page. This view is really great for tracking your overall. Is your horse always good on Wednesdays? Why could that be? Bad when it’s raining? Colics every time there is a new batch of hay? This month at a glance view is really helpful for tracking work days and “events” for overall pattern analysis.
The Weekly page gives you a breakdown by week and allows space for your weekly goals, daily rating of how the horse is doing (1-10), a habit tracker chart (I LOVE this), a trainer notes section for lesson notes, next week’s goals and observations about your horse or your riding for the week. This is my favorite page because I get a picture of the whole week and how our training from the beginning of the week has progressed us to the end.
The Daily pages give plenty of space for details. It includes a fantastic body chart of the horse to make any notes on injuries, scratches, or other physical notes. It gives plenty of space for writing out your exact work plan for the day if you wish and a spot for writing down what you want to work on next session. I find this particularly helpful as I know what I should work on tomorrow and don’t go into my next ride winging it!
I personally love the disc bound system and plan to keep using it. I love the gorgeous cover options available and the customization allowed in this type of system. It’s a bit more pricey, but works well for me. There are two new pages available for the disc bound system – a Competition page and a Weekly Evaluation page (a bit of a mixture of the weekly and daily pages). I’ll be ordering some of both to add to my disc binder!
I really like how using the The Equestrian Journal makes you more aware of what you’re doing with your horse. It helps to track any habits (or issues), is great for goal planning and making sure I am getting everything I can out of each ride. The physical act of writing has always been an incredible memory tool, so taking the time to write in the journal cements any learning from the day in my head before it’s lost to the wind. It also helps to look back and track my progress or and consistencies in Spice’s behavior.
I have found that since I’ve started using The Equestrian Journal I have been remembering my individual rides in detail when I go back and review the day’s session. It has created a system of recall so that I can remember what I learned for the day and I’m no longer just losing the full value of my lessons and clinics. It’s also been instrumental in pointing out trends and regular issues that need to be worked through or addressed in my body or for Spice. It has also been incredibly helpful for tracking health issues so I know exactly what day that colic was, when those wear spots showed up, or when he got roughed up by his neighbor.
When riding regularly, it’s easy to forget just how far you have come in a short period of time. It may feel as if you’ve had a problem forever. You may not think you’ve made any progress since your last show. Using The Equestrian Journal has really helped me realize exactly how much progress I’ve made in a short 4 weeks! I’m going into my show this weekend feeling pumped for our progress and ready to see how a judge thinks our training is going!
I REALLY love this product and highly recommend it to anyone who rides with a goal in mind (no matter how many days a week, or how small or big the goal). Having access to your experiences written fresh as they happen really changes the way you approach daily training sessions. The organization of the system also ensures that you’ll never be overwhelmed and give up and your information isn’t hidden in some rarely seen application on your phone. It’s right there in front of you to flip open and read.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the The Equestrian Journal after you’ve tried it!