Equestrian Spirit

Do what makes your heart sing

Plan your goals for 2017 TODAY

The difference between a dream and a goal is a strategy.

Are you looking back on 2016 and thinking oh well, next year is my year. Of your goals you set out to achieve, how many did you reach? Quite often we think about what we are looking forward to achieving and day dream about it without putting into place any actionable small goals that will get you there. So I thought I would share with you how I break down my goals so they are achievable

What's your big goal?

  1. Choose your stretch goal. This is your ideal outcome. For me I want to have Fitty at a competitive Novice level of dressage training and jumping 70 - 80cm.
  2. Give yourself a reasonable time frame. From the moment you introduce something new to a horses movement it takes 1 - 5 rides to understand (as long as you are effective in your communication), 6 - 8 weeks for co-ordination, 3 - 4 months for muscle tone and 6 - 12 months for bone and ligament density. So if I start working on Novice level movements now (which we are ready for), free jumping 80cm and doing grids and small show jump courses of 60 - 70cm today we should have a competitive standard by November next year.
  3. Break down your goal. What do you need to be capable of doing to achieve your goal? For the goal I have stated above we need an established medium walk, working trot and working canter in a consistent frame. We need to be able to do 15m and 20m circles in trot and canter, leg yield in trot and lengthen and shorten the strides in trot and canter. To be at a competitive level we also need to be training a level higher, so we should also be working on collection, 10m circles, traver and shoulder in. This quality of flatwork will help our show jumping, but we will also need to be developing a good approach, take off and departure as well as bascule and scope over the fence. These goals will need to be loosely added into the planner. It will take the horse as long as it takes to be able to do these things. Because these goals are pretty easy for me though, as long as we have no hiccups along the way which I'm sure there will be, I know how long it will take for Fitty to be able to do it as well.
  4. Create actionable steps. You need a diary and a planner. Should I say that twice? You need a diary and a planner!!! You need to schedule your training into your timetable as a non-negotiable if you are committed to achieving your big goal.  Use your planner to see the year as a whole and pencil in your little goals that you want to achieve by when. Use you diary to plan each week to include how much and what type of training you will do each day. Include other aspects of your lifestyle that will help you achieve your big goal. For example, I add kettle bell and yoga sessions to my time table which need to also be a non negotiable if I want to be fit and supple enough to ride as well as I can. Remember its not all about work so plan some down time together as well. Horses love just chilling and eating grass so fit in a meditation session with your horse, you can find free guided meditations on YouTube or listen to a podcast or read a book if meditation doesn't float your boat. 
  5. Get your finances sorted. Big goals generally come with a price tag. Work into your budget how much you're willing to invest in your goal. This may be savings to get better gear, or pay for help etc. Having a budget to spend allows you to make it a priority in your finances without putting as much strain on other aspects of your life. Sometimes having a shoe string budget means you have to get creative in your progress but can build a better foundation because you have to work harder. There are some things that you don't want to do on the cheap though and that is buying your tools and hiring your professionals. Budget into your expenses good tack that won't injure your horse, a good vet, dentist and farrier at the very least.
  6. Get your tools together. This is something that you may also need to budget into your finances. To achieve your goals you need to have the right tools. I can tell you now having your gear together and organised and your show gear and  training gear separate can take off a lot of stress and pressure. 
  7. Find the right professionals. The horse industry in Australia is mostly unregulated. Which means there are no governing bodies that monitor the practise of the professional services being offered. The only governed professional body in Australia are vets. Which means anyone, qualified or not can be a dentist, a farrier, a chiropractor, an instructor, a trainer. This is a huge problem in our industry as there are many trusted people who are not always doing the right the by the horses. The one thing that I have been taught is if you ask someone a question as to why they are doing something and they can't explain it then don't let them do it. 
  8. Get a mentor. Taking the beaten track isn't necessarily a bad thing. Find someone who is easily accomplishing your big goal and has been able to achieve it numerous times over. It would also help if they have successfully helped others. Being able to do it yourself and being able to teach others is not always the same. You want someone who has achieved your goal too many times to count. Someone who has resolved the issues that you're having on a broad range of different personality types and breeds of horses. Someone who has good communication skills that can help you to get where you need to go. Someone who has an eye for detail and can pick up on the finer nuances of your relationship with horse. It also helps to work with someone who shares your belief of how the horse and you should be worked. 
If you want something you've never had you need to do something you've never done.

Especially as a horse rider it's good to have eyes on the ground so that what you're interpreting of what you are feeling is the same as what people are seeing. What you think might look good may look completely different to what you're feeling and without the eyes on the ground you will never know. 

      9. Celebrate the little wins. 

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans.

When you set out your big goal you generally aren't aware of how big it is until you start on the journey. You don't know about all the extra little goals that are involved in getting you there. So if you have worked extra hard on something and you finally achieve it, celebrate it! Get together your nearest and dearest, the ones that have put up with your determination and frustration, go out for dinner or a drink and say thank you for being here with me, supporting me throughout.


So these are my 8 main tips for how I plan out and achieve my goals. I also frequently have to say to myself you got this girl! Head down, bum up and get stuck in. Frequently I get to about the half way point and throw a huge tanty because I haven't got there yet and I just have to keep saying you can do this, just stick at it and then one day I'll reach my goal, say hooray and go ok what's next? So I'm working on celebrating my little goals, getting together the friends and family that have supported me to this point and saying hey thanks, I appreciate you putting put with me and supporting me in getting these goals.

I'd love to know about your goals. Join our mailing list below and let me know what you have planned for 2017.


Did you enjoy our blog? join our newsletter and our social medias to get the latest in training and tips