As we ride our horses throughout the season, the idea of setting goals for ourselves and our horses should be something we all take into consideration. We started the “Success in the Saddle” series to help individuals in their journey to achieve their horsemanship goals. So, how do you begin to set a goal or goals when it comes to improving something such as your horsemanship?
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Situation
The first step you can take toward setting goals for yourself and your horse is to start out by looking at where you currently are with your horse, where it is you would like to go and what you would like to achieve. This can be a big, long term goal that requires many smaller goals to get there or it can be something smaller and quicker to attain. It is up to you to determine what it is you wish to accomplish and then make it your goal.
Step 2: Develop a Timeline
After you take some time to determine your goal, you’ll want to look at it realistically to put together a plan of action. This means, depending on the size of your goal, developing a realistic timeline to achieve it. Now, we all know people and horses alike learn at different paces, so you must take a look at yourself and your horse to truly give yourself a realistic timeline. If achieving your goal requires the opportunity to learn more than you know, don’t hesitate to find the help that you need. We don’t know what we don’t know! Also, take into consideration your horse’s abilities or potential abilities when setting your goals. For example, if you have a senior horse, setting the goal of becoming an endurance competitor may not be a realistic goal for you and your horse!
Step 3: Find an Accountability Partner
What is the most important factor when it comes to setting personal goals? It may very well be simply having accountability. Having support and motivational help from someone can make a world of difference, especially during those days you just don’t “feel like it.” This can be a friend, a family member, or if you are seeking professional help to achieve your goal, it can even be your trainer. This person may go as far as helping you make a game plan or writing up a training schedule to help build up to your goal, or simply just be the extra encouragement when days get hard. We all need that special someone to help keep us positive and motivated to push on to achieve our goals!
Step 4: Set Small Milestones along the Way
Every goal needs steps, or smaller goals, to help it be successful. Setting smaller milestones can help you keep control of the bigger goal. For example, maybe competing in an obstacle challenge is something you wish to achieve, but you can’t just go and compete in an obstacle challenge without any prior work or practice. So, what should your steps leading up to it be? Well, maybe you start working with your horse daily, building control, communication, and consistency. Then, you factor in some obstacle work, and slowly build up the intensity and complexity of those obstacles. Next, you may even take opportunities to travel with your horse to a weekend obstacle clinic of some sort, and gain some experience and exposure in that environment. Finally, after dutifully working through your milestones, you and your horse are at a place where you can confidently go out and achieve your goal of competing in that obstacle challenge.
Staying positive throughout this journey is key! Be happy with your small accomplishments and don’t get disappointed when things get hard. Setting goals is not necessarily something that is supposed to be easy! Just remember you are working towards a bigger goal and to take it one step at a time. Enjoy this journey with your horse as you work towards having Success in the Saddle.
Written by Christiana Wenger of C & C Horsemanship