It’s a new year and you’re ready to start on the journey of self-improvement. In this post, I’ll be talking about how to set goals as an equestrian!
Setting goals can be difficult sometimes seeing how fickle the sport is. You might think to yourself: “Will my horse be sound enough for long-term goals?” or “What if I fall off and develop a mental block?” All reasonable concerns, however, you shouldn’t let such mere thoughts cloud your potential progress.
I recall a time not too long ago where I had many goals lined up.
I started riding my horse, Theo, again after 7 months out of the saddle and while it took a couple of months to get back into the swing of things; nevertheless, we were well on our way.
We worked so hard to become a better team and it paid off… I was finally going to start jumping again. Boy, was I excited! Unfortunately, it all came to an abrupt halt when Theo pulled a shoe… and then another shoe… and then another. Back to square one.
I kissed jumping him goodbye seeing that it would be another 5 months before I climbed back into the saddle.
As I said before, equestrianism is a fickle sport. Horses (at least in my experience) are prone to injuries, and setbacks happen time after time. This all being said, it’s still important to set goals that will assist in your progress.
So here’s how to set goals as an equestrian!
Don’t set time-oriented goals
Let’s say that you’re planning to jump 3 feet by June 1st… that’s a sure way to inflict stress upon yourself. Horses, in my experience, tend to work against time all the, well… time.
I remember that last summer when I was consistently riding, I thought for sure that I would be jumping Theo within the next month. But lo and behold, that was 18 months ago and I still haven’t jumped him :’)
Now, by all means this isn’t to discourage you, rather, to help you avoid unnecessary disappointment. This all being said, I still want you to set goals and reach high; nevertheless, understand that there are so many factors of horsemanship. Sometimes it’s hard to keep all of your ducks in a row.
So instead of setting a for sure timeline, set goals that can be flexible, such as: “I’m going to work towards jumping 3 feet every other ride” etc. etc. That way, if your horse does come down lame for a week or two, you won’t sweat it.
Set intentional, small goals!
Do you ever think to yourself, “I’m going to start working out everyday” and then you just… don’t? That’s because your goal is (a) not specific enough – you need more structure (b) that’s way too much to take on if you haven’t worked out in awhile.
Setting intentional goals: you want to be a better rider and you’re working hard for it, but what are you working towards, really? Being a better rider is subjective so it’s time to define what it means to you. Is it having steady, soft hands? Is it being able to sit anything your horse might throw at you?
To set goals as an equestrian, you have to know what you’re going after. If it’s have a quiet lower leg then you need to be setting a plan of action for that: riding bareback and/or without stirrups twice a week, strengthening your calves out of the saddle, etc. Having a vision is the quickest route! : -)
Setting small goals: as I said before it can be hard to jump right into exercising if you and your body aren’t used to it. You have to start small.
Instead of saying, “I’m going to ride without stirrups for my entire ride twice a week” start with: “I’m going to ride without stirrups in time increments of 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off once or twice a week” until you can build up to more.
Starting with small, easy goals that won’t overwhelm you is a good way to avoid burnout or ensure you won’t drop it after a week.
Write it down!
Sometimes it’s easy to say, or think to ourselves: “I’m going to do this and this and this” and so on. But in reality, those are just thoughts. Especially with possible long-term goals, it can be less than demanding to lose sight of said goal if it’s not constantly reminding you.
Writing your plan down will aid in bringing it all to life. Once you have your vision, jot down every detail or course of action in a planner, journal or notes in your phone – anywhere that will assist and remind you on the regular.
Be mindful of your habits and eventually they’ll shape your future.
Every human is different: some people are self-disciplined, while others might need a push from friends or family. Both are perfectly fine either way! Finding someone who can keep you accountable is a good way to stay on task after all.
What is an accountability partner?
This is another person who will do daily or weekly (whatever works best for you and your schedule) checkups. They might remind you to exercise outside of the saddle and/or ask if you’ve completed your goals for the day/week.
To make it more interesting, you could be their accountability partner as well and then you would be able to push each other – maybe add challenges with rewards or disciplines.
How to find an accountability partner?
This would usually be someone that you would know quite well. Someone that you would have no problem sharing your strengths and weaknesses with.
This could be a close friend or family member, whether an equestrian or not, or even a barn pal! You could even reach out to online equestrians friends and be pen pals with them. But make sure – if you’re under 18 – to always, always, always ask your parents if they approve of you messaging people online. Stay safe!
At the end of the day,
when you set goals as an equestrian, it should be fun and exciting! There will always be trials and tribulations, but if you stay flexible and continue to reach higher and higher, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting to where you need to be!
And there you have it, folks! Be sure to let me know what your goals are and how you plan to get there : -)
All the best,
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