Riding Towards Your Goals

We all have dreams.  Maybe you dream about competing on your beautiful homebred youngster, hacking out confidently, winning a championship class, gaining an equestrian qualification or riding that perfect flying change.  Dreaming of your achievements is a great start, but to actually become successful you have to do something about it - you must take ACTION.  Setting out your goals clearly at the outset will make the difference between dreams remaining as dreams or becoming reality.

Making plans

Setting goals is really about making a plan.  In doing so you will be able to define your goal and therefore create a map of how to achieve the outcome you desire.  A useful way to help set a goal is by following the mnemonic EQUESTRIANS - each goal you plan should follow the criteria:

E=exciting
Q=quantifiable
U=understood
E=evidenced
S=specific
T=timed
R=realistic
I=intrinsic
A=agreed
N=noted
S=specific

A case study

Joanne Bloggs has always wanted to compete in the Championship Trail class at the National Show with her horse Neddy.  When she spoke to her instructor about her dream they agreed to sit down together and make a plan on how to achieve her goal. (If you don’t have a regular instructor then perhaps you could talk about your goal with a good friend.)

Joanne was very EXCITED in setting this goal and it is this that will help to keep her motivated.  This goal is easily QUANTIFIABLE as it is about competing, but if it wasn’t it would be necessary to be able to know when the goal has been achieved.   Both Joanne and her instructor UNDERSTOOD the goal.  As this goal is about showing it will be EVIDENCED when Joanne and Neddy have completed the trail pattern at the National show.  This is a very SPECIFIC goal as Joanne has stated that it must be the Championship Trail class at the WES National Show 2012.  An unspecific goal might be ‘I wish to compete in a trail class at a show sometime in the future’….. this would be too vague.  Because they are aiming for next year’s National show this goal is TIMED.  All goals need deadlines, but all deadlines must be REALISTIC.  If this rider and horse hadn’t yet started competing in Novice Rider Trail classes then this time frame may not be achievable – a different plan would be needed.  To have successful outcomes to our goals they must be INTRINSIC.  Joanne’s goals need to be personally significant or she risks losing motivation.  Both rider and instructor need to AGREE the goal.  One of the most important things to do when working through the planning process is to NOTE the goal in writing.  This really helps to increase commitment.  Finally, Joanne knows that her goal, although achievable and realistic is STRETCHING.  She has never qualified for a Championship class before although she has competed many times at the National show.  She knows that she will have to work hard and improve her own and Neddy’s trail skills, but also knows that without a goal like this she lacks the motivation to continue schooling and training.

And finally...

Remember that goals do not need to be about competing! What goal, or goals, do you have?  Do they fit the EQUESTRIANS criteria?  If not, how could you modify them to be more effective and attainable?  We hope you all achieve your goals in 2012 and beyond!

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