Making lists of things we’d all tell our younger selves may seem a bit redundant. After all, the past is the past, so what use is there in worrying about it? The idea of advising our younger selves isn’t so much about living in the past, though, as it is making peace with the decisions you made that brought you to the present.

The same can be said when applied to our younger equestrian selves. What would you say to that eager teenager who spent every waking hour at the barn? Here are a few to get you started.

  1. The friends you make at the barn can last you a lifetime. Treat them well.
  2. Always save a carrot for the old lesson horse who still teaches little kids how to post the trot.
  3. Take the time to watch a dressage lesson, even if your eyelids droop after 15 minutes.
  4. Set jumps for your trainer and ask how you can help out. You’ll be amazed how much you learn.
  5. Don’t be a gossip.
  6. Don’t worry if you can’t show as much as everyone else. The number of ribbons you have doesn’t determine your worth.
  7. Don’t kill yourself trying to make your dream happen. Work hard, sacrifice, but not at the expense of your entire life.
  8. Don’t neglect the other people in your life. Your family. Your spouse. Your kids. They matter, too.
  9. Go for more hacks. You’ll wish you had more time for them later.
  10. Smile at the people sharing an aisle with you at the show. Don’t wear your RBF everywhere.
  11. Learn how to braid, and how to do anything else that could help pay your way later on. And learn to do it better than anyone else.
  12. Always thank the volunteers.
  13. Drink more water.
  14. No matter what, pat your horse after your ride.
  15. Don’t ever, ever think you are better than anyone else, because you aren’t.
  16. Do more of the boring stuff. Trot sets. Ground work. It will teach you the importance of basics.
  17. Never stop learning. No matter how far you go, there will always be someone to learn from.
  18. Don’t be greedy. Nothing is worse than biting off more you can chew and looking like an idiot as a result.
  19. Clean your tack. It’s an investment that needs to last you a long time.
  20. Always bring a spare pair of white breeches. And gloves.