My blog partner, who is also one of my students, asked me for some help with goal setting. She is riding a different horse now. The horse she is riding now is a more experienced school horse, rather than a sensitive thoroughbred mare.
When she rides this horse, the focus can be on her as a rider more than the horse. Whereas with the horse before this one, we were training horse and rider at the same time. We were still working towards goals of course! They just focused more on what we wanted to accomplish with the horse than the rider.
This inspired me that maybe others also need some help with goal setting for themselves. I figured there had to be a way that I could come up with to help others with that. I sat down this morning and quickly came up with goals for my friend. I needed to come up with a way to help others figure out what their goals should be. A worksheet, or questionnaire of some sort.
Something that, as a rider, you can fill out and hopefully make it clearer what you need to work on. This is what I came up with.
Answer These Questions To Help Determine Your Riding Goals
Answer each question thoroughly and honestly. If you don’t know the answer circle it, so you can ask your instructor about it!
Part 1 – Position
For each of the above things write down the comments your instructor gives you most often that component of your riding. If you feel like there is something specific that your instructor doesn’t mention but you want to improve upon, write that down as well of course.
Part 2- Fitness
- Weakest Muscles
- StaminaMuscle Memory
For each of the following components write down what you think you need to work the most on. For example, do your abs tire quickly? Do you need to work on stamina in two-point? How about the muscle memory necessary to sit the trot without bouncing?
Part 3- Technique/Skills
- What skill do you need to improve the most?
- What skills or techniques do you not understand and need clarification on?
- What new skill do you want to learn/work on?
Part 4- Keeping Your Head In The Game
- Is there anything that frustrates you when you ride?
- Is fear ever an issue for you when you ride?
- Do you feel like you and your instructor communicate well?
- Are there any questions that you have that you specifically want to ask your instructor?
- Do you feel like you leave your bad days or negativity at the barn when you get on to ride?
What To Do With These Answers
By answering these questions, you have a black and white answer to what you need to work on when you ride. Make sure you answer with the things you hear most from your instructor, as well as your personal thoughts on each component.
Break It Down
Now that you can see exactly what it is that you need to work on, you need to break down each component. It looks overwhelming and impossible to fix when you look at it all on paper at once.
You need to break down each component. That way you can ask your instructor for exercises to improve on it or just practice it in your free riding time.
Goals and achieving goals works differently for everyone. Especially riding goals since it is so dependent on the horse, and things like how often you get to ride.
A reasonable way to set a goal would be to take one component from each of the four categories and focus on improving that for a specific period of time.
How Much Time?
The time you give yourself to achieve your goals really depends on how often you get to ride. If you are only a once a week rider, you obviously need to allow yourself more time. You should go into each lesson with a goal in mind. Then evaluate afterward how you did. This is where the riding journal comes in. You need to have a place to record all these things so you can look back and see your progress!
If you lease a horse or own one, and get to ride more than once a week, it is easier to get specific with working on goals. You can even make a schedule so that you work on certain things on certain days. For example, one day you do fitness work, then the next day you focus on one of those specific skills you need to improve. That would be things like half halts, posting, telling leads and diagonals, etc.
By filling out this worksheet and breaking down exactly what you need to work on is not to overwhelm you. It is so that you can be aware of what you need to improve on and come up with a plan to do it.
Remember, pick one thing at a time to work on. Mention it to your instructor if you are a once a week rider. If you own your own horse or ride more frequently you can plan on how you are going to focus and work on each thing you wrote down.
Talk To Your Instructor
If you don’t know the answers to all the questions, ask your instructor. I promise you they will be impressed that you are a goal-oriented student. I’m sure they will be happy to help you use the information you gathered on the worksheet to come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals.
Remember, riding horses is a lifelong journey
There is so much to learn, you can never know it all or be a “perfect” rider. There is always room for improvement. As riders, we sometimes just need help to figure out what exactly it is we need to work on and how to go about it. Hopefully, this worksheet will help you with that.
You Can Do It!
One step at a time, focus on the positive and keep working at it. I think you will find the horsemanship journey you are on is well worth all the work!