How to Set and Reach Your Goals

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Setting and Reaching Goals

  2006 Cherry Hill      www.horsekeeping.com

The process of reaching goals includes an initial evaluation, frequent reviews, and progress checks. Goals should be set down in specific terms so they appear as crystallized pictures in the mind rather than fuzzy apparitions on the horizon. "I have to become a better rider" sounds like a project of enormous proportions with nowhere to start. Setting a more concrete, short-term goal is more effective. For example, decide that at the end of two weeks you will be able to effectively ride a horse 5 strides canter, 3 strides trot, 5 strides canter, 3 strides trot, etc. for one entire round of the arena. This is a more a more specific, practical, and therefore attainable goal.

Obstacles should be viewed realistically. It is a common error to visualize small hurdles as massive stone walls. This is especially true of riders who have had a bad experience with a horse. If you worry that a horse is going to bite your finger (whether purposefully or accidentally) when you are bridling him, and this puts you in a nervous state, take one or two lessons that emphasize practicing bridling with and without assistance so that you can confidently tack your horse for future rides. Rather than fabricate an insurmountable wall in your mind which hinders you in all future lessons, step up to a problem, see what it requires, and formulate a plan.

When a large or lifetime goal is broken up into smaller pieces so that it is attainable in stages, it is more likely to be reached. Whether you reach your goal is largely dependent on your ability to manage your assets and resources. Most important is how you "spend" your time. Although you may not have control of how inflation affects the cost of hay and a saddle, you still govern your personal balance in your daily bank of time. Successful time management depends on your ability to focus on effectiveness rather than merely efficiency. Efficiency is doing something well. Effectiveness is doing the right thing well.

The dedicated rider knows how to target time each day toward important, high-pay-off activities rather than getting caught up in a false sense of duty and a long list of less important activities. It can be easy to find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time cleaning tack, washing blankets and bandages, grooming, and talking about riding when it is actual riding that you should be concentrating on.

Alternatively, it might be easy for you to get caught up in an intense enthusiasm for riding and want to "get there" fast. Although there are many shortcuts used to attain temporary and superficial successes, there is no substitute for time in the saddle to develop a rider. Sometimes if you get going too fast, you will misplace your focus, lose sight of where you were initially headed, and get derailed on a non-productive side track. For example, a dressage rider who practices only shoulder-in-left before a dressage test may find that once in the ring her horse has difficulty going straight. This rider has lost her overall perspective. A mental rehearsal at the beginning of each day and before each ride will help you to identify your priorities and will result in good use of your time. Mental planning is especially critical immediately preceding lessons or competitions.

Organization and prioritizing are imperative to the success of the peak performer. Twenty percent of the things you do yield eighty percent of your gain. Attending to the most important items on the barn "TO DO" list will result in maximum productivity. Less essential items can be ticked off as time permits. Plan the work and then work the plan.

Why is it that women riders outnumber men ten to one? Part of it is probably due to the nurturing, caring relationship that can develop between a horse and its rider. But part of it may be a way for women to further dilute the differences society has assigned to the sexes. Sports, and riding in particular, may appeal to women because they allow women to step out of two female stereotypes — passivity and dependence. Taking charge of a 1,200-pound animal can hardly be considered passive or dependent.

 

  2004 Cherry Hill

 

 

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