Step by step, you’ll become the best rider you can be!

What better way to start a new year then with some riding goals! People make various resolutions to change their eating habits, exercise more, or finish a few books. So, why not bring that energy into your barn life. Set goals for your horse and yourself! These short- and long-term plans can make you have a more successful future together.

It can be difficult to know where to start. You may have a dream or image in your head, but it’s hard to make it a reality. Your goals have to be practical and obtainable. You need a strategy! Use this advice in order to create meaningful goals. Ultimately, you and your horse will find success if you’re willing to put in the work.

Follow these five steps for creating riding goals…

1. What do you want to accomplish?

The first step to creating your horse-related goals begins with addressing your needs. You must visualize your future and where you want to be. Take a moment to do some self-reflection! Goals can’t be empty promises; they need real meaning behind them.

2. Learn to set appropriate goals.

I like to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and I encourage you to do the same.

Specific: Your goal should be clear and specific! Ask yourself the five ‘W’ questions.

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Measureable: You should be able to track your progress. It can be helpful to have indicators that you have advanced.

Achievable: Your goal should challenge you and push your abilities, but it must also be reasonable. You should be able to actually achieve this dream. Make sure you have the resources and capability to do so.

Relevant: Your short- and long-term plans should make sense with your overall life goals. They must all align!

Time-bound: Everyone needs a deadline or target date. This will give you the force to get busy and move forward. Sometimes, everyday tasks can take priority. You need to make sure that your goals are not on the backburner.

3. Use positive terms!

Let go of self-limiting beliefs and empower yourself. First, you should identify these mind barriers that hold you back. ‘My horse hates me’ or ‘I’m too busy to ride’. Next, you need to turn these statements around by using positive language. ‘I will spend quality time with my horse so that we develop a good relationship’ or ‘I make time for the things important to me’.

4. Write down your goals.

It takes more effort to write your goals down on paper, but it’s worth it! Your mind can quickly get clustered or forgetful. Your handwritten or typed goal sheet will be an outline to work through. It’ll give you clear direction- basically a roadmap! You can jot down your progress to look back on. Furthermore, write down important dates to remember like competitions or training sessions. You’ll be able to space them out appropriately and make sure you’re doing enough.

5. Keep things fun!

Goals can make us competitive. Sometimes, in a bad way! When you start bashing your horse or the people around you, then it’s time to take a pause. Never let your goal blind you to what you already have! Remember to stay humble. Roadblocks will come up and should be expected. You must learn to go with them and not beat yourself or your horse up when things go astray. Keep your love for riding alive!

No one said it would be easy, but it will be satisfying! Your dreams can be turned into a reality with hard work and determination. Set goals for yourself and within no time you’ll be experiencing riding success. This is your year!


Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.