The Horse Owner’s Guide to Journaling

How to keep a journal to track your goals, your progress, and your horse's health and training.


When a green 3-year-old filly walked off the trailer and into my life, I made sure I had the essentials for equine ownership. My most meaningful purchase for my new horse was a hardcover journal with galloping psychedelic ponies on the exterior. I was eager to fill those blank pages with tales of triumph and obstacles along the way.

Horse rider's journal from The Printable Pony
The Printable Pony’s Records Binder elevates everyday record keeping to artistry.

Like most equestrians, I make riding goals and New Year’s resolutions annually. But instead of setting and forgetting resolutions, I keep a weekly journal to stay in touch with my horse’s health, training, and behavior. A dedicated horse journal allows me to connect with my horse on a deeper level.

Writing it All Down

I haven’t been to a horse show in years, but my journal is still full. I jot down remarks about individual rides for better or worse, training goals, changes in diet, introducing new supplements, and health concerns. I can easily flip back a year from now and tell you the last time my horse had a swollen ankle, was put on medication for allergies, or went through a heat cycle.

Horse rider's journal from The Painting Pony
It’s easy to forget daily details unless you write them down. Use a dedicated journal like this one from The Painting Pony, and remember to date your entries.

I would be lying if I bragged about writing in my journal every day. Occasionally I don’t ride and there isn’t anything noteworthy happening.

There is no right or wrong way to journal. Sometimes I write down a few words; at times it’s a paragraph. I journal as needed and don’t turn the task into a dreaded chore. As long as there is a date with the entry, that’s all that matters.

Horse rider's journal from Meredith Collie
Source: Meredith Collie

Helpful Record-Keeping

My mare Fira struggled with a cough during her first spring in California.

I monitored her coughing in my journal and voiced my concern to my vet.

He assured me she was in good health and just had allergies.

She coughed intermittently from June until December. We assumed Fira’s coughing would return next spring, but it didn’t. When my vet asked what time she started experiencing allergies last year, I confidently stated the exact month and day. He was shocked at my knowledge of the precise dates.

Horse rider's journal from The Printable Pony
Source: The Printable Pony

One morning in July, Fira turned up lame. There were no signs of heat or swelling, but I knew this was something to keep track of. I immediately suspected a stone bruise and began treating her hoof. There was a dramatic difference in soundness after day one. By day two, she was soundly trotting on grass, and on the fifth day she was sound.

During this time, I referenced my journal and my memory was jolted back to the rocky trail ride that was most likely the culprit of the bruise. I’ll be able to look up my treatment plan if she ever gets a stone bruise again.

Horse rider's journal from The Painting Pony
Source: The Painting Pony

Reflecting on Positive Progress

I used to set unrealistic monthly training goals and belittle myself when they were not achieved. My journal is the voice of reason, proof of how far my horse and I have advanced. If I flip the pages back six months or even a year, I’ll find notes of frustration. I’ll recall when I couldn’t get my stubborn filly to walk forward on the trail or those days when she threw a tantrum.

A year later, I have a completely different horse because I kept working with her. That’s progress I can reflect on with pride.

Horse rider's journal from Equestrian Creations
Tired of setting and forgetting goals and resolutions? Use a weekly journal to stay in touch with what you want to achieve.
Source: Equestrian Creations

Finding the Right Journal

Pick out a notebook that excites and motivates you to write.

Keeping an active journal is an excellent way to track your horse’s health, training, and behavior. Pick up a new journal to make a fresh start in 2019—the notes you take will provide you with insightful information for years to come. You can buy general-purpose journals from stores like Marshall’s, Home Goods, Target, Zazzle, Amazon and Home Goods, or try out these sites for more horsey flair.

Journals made just for equestrians:

Blank notebooks with equestrian-themed covers:

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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