I believe most horse people are pretty savvy when it comes to setting goals.
When I was barrel racing competitively, I know I certainly was. In the beginning, I’d often set smaller goals such as riding five times a week, beating my previous time at a specific arena, placing a jackpot, etc. But as my horse and I improved, my goals expanded to things like winning a jackpot series (and buckle), placing in the top three of an association’s year-end standings, or placing at an open rodeo. One of my ultimate goals was to win a saddle, and though it took lots of hard work and a number of years, I did manage to achieve that goal.
These days, my life centers more around writing than riding, but I’m still a firm believer in setting and working toward goals, no matter how big or small they may be. Here are a few tips for setting equestrian-related goals for the new year:
- Be realistic. A saying I learned at a barrel racing clinic years ago has long stuck with me: Dance with the partner you came with. With riding, our horse is our partner, of course, but it’s up to us to condition, train, and get our partner prepared. In other words, we can’t expect to pull our horse out of the pasture after having the winter off, ride a couple times, and immediately win a blue ribbon.
- Write out your goals. Having a visible reminder of our goals can help keep us focused, so write them down and place them in a location where you’ll see them daily. If you prefer a more visual representation, cut out magazine photos to create a vision board or create a photo collage online to use as a screen saver on your computer.
- Expect setbacks. Challenges are an inevitable part of life and may get in the way your goals at times. Your horse may get injured; weather conditions might interfere with riding or showing plans; unexpected life problems may crop up. However, keep in mind that these things are often temporary. Don’t let setbacks cause you to quit.
- Expand your timeline, if needed. While deadlines can be helpful in some instances, they can also lead to frustration and feelings of failure. Some goals simply need a bigger timeline (such as winning a saddle, for me). Don’t box yourself in with the belief that you need to achieve a goal by a certain date. Instead, stay focused for the long haul and it will be all the more gratifying when you finally get there!
What equestrian-related goals are you setting in 2020? Feel free to share in the comments!
Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much. Follow Casie at www.casiebazay.com.