You are doing great so far! You did your research. Found the right facility and instructor that you feel comfortable with, started taking weekly
Hopefully, you are enjoying your lessons and time with horses is everything that you thought it would be! If you are in a group or semi-private lessons, you are probably beginning to make new friends as well.
It may seem overwhelming to think about setting goals so early on in your horsemanship journey, for the sheer fact that it is so much information to take in. I agree it can feel like a lot to take in at first. Setting goals is a must though because it will help you stay focused and not get overwhelmed or frustrated.
Three Goals for Adult Beginner Riders
If you are not a goal oriented person or a journal keeper like me, the thought of setting goals may be as intimidating as all the new skill you are learning. I’m going to convert you into being a goal-oriented journal obsessed like myself, but I realize that may take some time. Which is why I’m going to set your goals for you this time! Very simple, open-ended goals, that are easy to achieve as well as easy for you to make sure you achieve.
These goals I’m giving you are for your first three months of riding lessons. I’m assuming you ride once a week. If you are lucky enough to ride more than once a week, you should definitely have no trouble meeting these goals!
Goal #1 – Familiarity
Goal number 1 is that you are feeling familiar with the facility you chose and the instructor. This means you know what to expect when you get to your lesson. You may not be able to fully tack up and groom by yourself yet, but you know your way around the barn. You know where to find grooming, supplies, tack, etc.
It also means you are familiar with the routine of what will happen when you get there, through the entire lesson. You know what to expect and that allows you to feel relaxed, and comfortable, which is imperative for you to be in the right frame of mind to soak up your horsemanship knowledge like a sponge.
Ask yourself the following questions?
1 – Are you familiar with your riding facility?
2 – Are you familiar with the protocol/routine of what will happen each time when you arrive?
3 – Are you familiar with where to find everything that you need for your lesson?
4 – Are you familiar with the protocol/routine of what will happen at the end of the lesson?
Goal #2 – Comfort
You are not going to be able to learn if you are not comfortable at the farm, or with the people there. You should be excited about going to the farm for your lesson, in anticipation of being around the horses and learning new skills. It is okay to have little butterflies before your lesson. It is not okay if you are nervous to the point it makes you not want to go. If this is the case, you may have just chosen the wrong facility, or you just take a little more time to get comfortable. Everyone varies in how long it takes them to get comfortable with new places and people. By the end of your first three months of lessons, you should feel 100% comfortable that you chose the right facility.
Ask yourself these questions
1 – Are you comfortable with the environment at the barn?
2 – Are you comfortable with the instructor and other barn staff you interact with?
3 – If you have a question while grooming or tacking up, do you feel comfortable to ask it? Do you know who to ask it to?
4 – If you are in a group or semi-private lesson are you comfortable with the people?
5 – Are you comfortable that even in the group or semi-private lesson, this is still an effective way for you to learn. Some people prefer privates and that is okay.
6 – Are you comfortable with communicating with your instructor during and after your lesson? Asking questions and getting clarification on anything you don’t understand. There is no such thing as a bad or stupid question! You should feel like you have plenty of time and opportunity to ask whatever questions you might have.
Goal #3 Learn The Nature Of The Horse
Yes, there are a million things about riding position, technique and cueing the horse that eventually will a part of your goals. The first three months should be focused on learning about the nature of the horse in order to be safe.
Ask Yourself These Questions
1 – Has your instuctor explained to you the nature of the horse as a prey animal? Flight vs. Fight? It is important to understand this in order to understand horse behavior and be safe
2 – Has your instructor taught you how to work safely around the horse on the ground, and explained why? Habits form easier if we know why we are forming them.
3 – Has your instructor explained to you horse body language and how to read horse body language. This is so important! Reading their body language is sometimes the only indication we have of how they might react to something.
4 – Do you feel like your instructor is helping you to learn about the personalities of the horse or horses you are riding? It is your instructor’s responsibility to instill in the student the ability to appreciate each individual horse for what they have to teach them. Not to mention that us instructors have happier customers when they feel like they are building connections with the horses that they ride. FInding those connections with the animals is a large part of why anyone wants to learn horsemanship. Your instructor should encourage and foster these connections.
So, that’s it. Those are your goals for your first three months of lessons. Nothing too intimidating or technical. These goals are in place to ensure that you have found the right facility and that you are off to a great start on your horsemanship journey.
Three Goals for Three Months
Get a notebook! Jot down those three-month goals and make sure you are checking them off the list. If you realize you are falling behind on certain areas, talk with your instructor and get yourself back on track.
First three months of riding, shouldn’t be stressful, it should be fun. Simple goals, familiarity, comfort and learning the nature of the horse. You got started, that was the hardest part, reaching your first three month goals should be easy as pie!