New Year = New Horse Goals!

As we start into the new year and indeed the new decade everyone is talking about setting goals. I thought it was a good time to explore how we do this with our horses.

Over the years I have had some very challenging and even dangerous horses and some easy ones too! You learn a lot about how to set goals and manage your expectations with horses and I think the lessons apply to so much else in life.

None of us have complete control over everything that happens and I think horses are very good at showing us that!!

When you decide to set a goal to achieve something with your horse, you have no way to explain to them that this is what you are doing together and why. This is why it’s really important to make a plan that breaks everything down into steps so you don’t over-face yourself or your horse.

Setting goals

There’s loads of articles on goal setting and how to do it. To be honest rather than worrying about the right way to make them, just have some and write them down. Even better, share them with a friend!

Writing and sharing a goal not only makes it more real but gives you a chance to think about how you are going to achieve it. What are the steps to getting there? Here’s an example that might be helpful:-

Goal: Take my horse to their first competition

Elements to the goal:

  1. Preparation for the competition

  2. Travelling there

  3. Arriving and settling in the new environment

  4. The collecting ring

  5. The competition arena

Each of these elements can become a goal in itself with it’s own mini steps for example if loading is an issue for your horse then getting this right will become a goal on the way to your bigger goal of competing. Spend some time practising this and get help if needed before you take your horse to a competition.

Similarly, you will also need to make sure that your horse is both ok with being ridden with other horses in the arena and going away from those horses when your time comes to be in the ring. If passing other horses or napping back to the others is an issue, it makes sense to work on this at home first and get help if you are having difficulties.

Manage your Expectations

Sometimes things just take longer than you anticipate. There can be loads of reasons for this, injury, other time pressures, weather (!) to name but a few.

If you have a more challenging horse things will definitely take longer than usual to achieve (see my blog mini series on Challe