As a rider its important that we set goals, but equally important is that those goals are realistic and appropriate to you as a rider and most importantly appropriate to your horse. Every rider has different abilities, history and skill level, just as every horse.
Now what has got me onto this topic is the fact that I am constantly adjusting my goalposts for my horses, but also for myself. Progress is progress and with my spicy, hot opinionated mare progress for her is very different to my new young goofy gelding. Just as I need to set appropriate goals for both these horses, I also need to set goals for myself. I’m ambitious and I have ambitious goals, but I need to make sure I set realistic goals and create steps to achieve the things I want.
When I don’t have goals, I get lazy, I get unhappy and I get annoyed because I am not progressing. You see goals are what helps us take action and without them, we just keep repeating the same old things and wonder why at the end of a year we are in the same position we were the previous year. When we set goals in place, we can strive to achieve them and its this step that creates motivation and the inspiration to be better. This doesn’t just apply to riding either!
When we have that inspiration we then have a desire to learn, to discover ways to get to our goals because there isn’t one path to success. You need to surround yourself with those that will help you get there and open to learning new things. Its a road with many deviations and people can arrive at a grandprix test having traveled very different paths. Many will have a road block after road block, but they keep working towards them, others will have a smooth sailing this time around because they have been there before. So next time you hit a roadblock, don’t let it stop you achieving your goals, it could be just a time to reassess your goals and maybe try another way of getting there.
You see horses are incredible teaches for riders and one thing that I never take for granted is the fact that horses teach me about persistence, patience and how to stay on track towards my goals. Yesterday progress for my young horse was being tied to the float with digging a huge hole and I was proud. While progress for my tense mare was creating softness through her back in counter canter in our lesson. They teach us that failure is ok and to expect to have bad days and to expect to have things go wrong. The key is that you don’t get attached to those failures, they are all part of the journey and to not create emotional stories around those failings. The key is that we learn from them, we think about what we change to be better and we carry on one foot in front of the other towards our goals.
Now I know this sounds easier said than done, but the truth is we owe it to our horses to do this. There is no one way to train a horse, so if something isn’t working, look for another way, change, adapt and think outside the square. Just as one system doesn’t work for creating health, one system doesn’t always work on the path to grandprix. We don’t know what we don’t know, so the key to success is to continue to grow, to learn, to adapt and to always be open to new ideas.
So next time you want to blame your horse or get fed up. Stop. Breathe. Think and then adjust your goal posts. Think outside the square, you may need to communicate another way. Never ever think you know everything and never ever stop learning 🙂
When we learn we grow and when we grow we create happiness.