Can you believe another decade has come to an end? I can’t. Yet here it is. Onwards. Upwards. Don’t get too tangled up in expectations but set yourself up for success. Here are a few points to ponder as we wish this decade goodbye!

1. To make the very most of the decade to come spend time with your dog/ horse doing the things you both (all?) appreciate! A nice walk, a good scratch, playing with toys, sharing a treat? You know what’s fun for you both and doing whatever it is will make you both enjoy time together more which results in better training and learning.

2. Foundations and manners matter so invest in them when you can. They’ll help you at home and at events. Working on them will make life, in general, more pleasant and easier too. Can you think of one basic thing that you have been neglecting? (Dora’s nails spring to my mind here!)

3. Figure out fitness – for you, for your partner. Getting fit can be fun and it’s so very good for you both! If you are both fit enough for your goals – that’s super. Pat yourselves on the back. Around here the horses and I will both be working on it! The dogs are fitter – lucky critters!

4. Keep learning – who can help you add to your knowledge base? Work with someone new – read a book, attend a class, seminar or webinar with someone you haven’t had a chance to work with before. How can you expand your learning opportunities this year? Auditing is a totally legitimate way to see if you want to do more with someone.

5. Develop your skills. Your posture, and handling/position matter. How simple and clear can you make things for your dog or horse? Consider your rewards – timing and placement matter too so polish those skills while you are at it!

6. Watch the experts in your field, visual yourself out there. Study them, think about what you’ve seen, experiment with what you learn. Imagine being them … channel Hannah‘s timing, Denise‘s curiosity, Charlotte‘s quest for perfection, you get the drift I am sure…

7. Mindset matters. Are you positive and grateful for what you are learning, accomplishing and doing? If it’s a rough day revisit your plan and make sure you are in the right place to work together. If it’s a no-good, really bad day do something fun or put work on hold for a little. If this is hard for you consider signing up for a daily email reminder I’ll send you … $20 gets you a year’s worth of emails that have been carefully crafted to help you remember how important mindset can be.

8. Play with as many dogs and horses as you can. Different animals respond differently and you will learn from each one you get to work with. If someone better than you offers to ride your horse or train your dog with you watching grab that opportunity. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from observation!

9. Have goals and make plans for your team. Providing yourself with a purpose informs and moves training forwards. They can be complex and multilayered (to achieve a year-end recognition for example) or very simple … add duration to an already known behaviour. Both are valid and either will you improve your training!

looking for more step from the left hind leg – aka nerding out

10. Take care of yourself. Take care of your canine and equine. Be kind to you both when something doesn’t go according to plan but have expectations to meet (they help with motivation). Find a like-minded support group and help them as they help you. Enjoy this journey to betterment. It’s so very worth it!

Whatever you do remember that these sports we play, these critters we work with – it’s for fun, enrichment and pleasure. Set yourself up now to have a great 2020. No New Year’s resolutions needed.