It’s that time of year again where we all make grand plans for the season. Ingrid Klimke once said write your goals in concrete and your plans in sand. With horses this is probably a pragmatic approach and one which works. Here is a quick guide to looking at goals. Ultimately your trainer should be the best guide to goal setting and help you choose them for the upcoming season.
- Goals are unique to each person so choose your own goals wisely and don’t make them too convoluted or unrealistic. Is qualifying at a regional final really possible when your dressage is consistently in the high 30s? A better goal would be to get more consistency in your dressage and bring it down to low 30s.
- Have powerful reasons. With a strong enough reason you can and will find the how and the wherewithal to achieve your goal. Reasons plus belief keep you motivated. When you’re excited about your goal, it doesn’t seem like work. If you’re not excited, your efforts will require more discipline and energy. Make sure it’s YOUR goal. Make sure it excites you. And then act enthusiastically.
- Write your goals down. This is a critical step. When you write your goals down, they appear not only on paper, but they become actively thought about in everything you do.
- Make a plan of action. To achieve and stay focused upon your objective, create an action plan. What are the steps you will take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? Your strategies will likely change as you go along, so set your goals in concrete and your plans in sand. Keep your eye on the goal, but remain flexible in your path to it.
- Fewer goals are better than too many. Concentrate your efforts and your energy on just a few and doing them well.
- Take action every day. Every goal can be broken down into doable tasks and it does not all involve sitting on a horse. It can be as simple as watching videos of riders you admire, reading an article a day or learning more about different aspects of horsemanship. Every little thing you can do will make a difference.
- Celebrate your success. Mark your successes and acknowledge yourself for your progress. It is too easy to move onto the next goal without any thought for the effort you have just put in. Horses bring out the worst in us for this. You HAVE to enjoy the journey.
- Don’t become obsessed by your goal. Riders tend to have the most success when they are happy and enjoying themselves. Things come together more easily. It is no coincidence that European 10,000m Champion Jo Pavey said she has had the most success this year as a runner because she is happy and it is not the absolute be all and end all in her life.
Good luck and if anyone would like to share their goals for the season it would be fascinating to look back in several months and see how people have got on. Have you been more organised about it this year? Do you dare not think about plans and goals with horses? Are you organised about goals and plans as a rider?