How to Set Your Riding Goals for the Year

by Alexa Gohn

Whether you ride for fun or compete, setting horseback riding goals is important. All equestrians — regardless of their discipline or experience — can use goals to encourage growth and inspire change in either their own riding or their horse's training.

5 Ways to Set Your Riding Goals 

If you are ready to set some riding goals, here are five ways to help get you started:

1. Choose Goals That Tend to Your Needs and Wants

When you are trying to decide what your riding goals should be for the next year, think about your needs and wants. Does your horse have a habit of pawing in the crossties? Do they stand politely and patiently for the vet and farrier? Could their ground manners be improved? These would all be training needs you could focus on. 

At the same time, though, consider your wants. For example, are you interested in learning a new skill or discipline? Do you want to take your horse to a trail, obstacle competition or show? Deciding what some of your needs and wants are can help you refine your goals.

2. Base Your Goals on What You Are Able to Do Now

When setting riding goals, be sure to base them on what you and your horse are able to do now — then build on that. Take a moment to consider some of your strengths, accomplishments, training breakthroughs and improvements. 

What are some things you struggle with? Where can you improve? Taking an honest assessment can help you craft realistic and practical goals that build on your current skills and abilities. 

3. Use SMART Goals 

Horse riding goals, like any other planned achievement, need to be SMART. These goals help you clarify your needs and wants, focus your time and effort, and increase your chances of success. To be SMART, your goal needs to be:

  • Specific: Figure out exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Setting a goal like improving your dressage scores gives you something specific to aim for.
  • Measurable: Your goal needs to be measurable in order to motivate you and make it easy to track your progress. Having check-in points, such as assessing your dressage scores at the end of each month, can keep you accountable and on track. 
  • Achievable: While all goals should push you, they should also be realistic. To ensure your finish line is attainable, keep in mind your abilities as a rider and your own horse's capabilities.
  • Relevant: Your goal should also be relevant and support any other goals you are trying to achieve, so make sure it's both meaningful and worthwhile to pursue.
  • Time-bound: Without a time-based deadline, you might find yourself lacking drive. Having a set deadline helps with adding structure to your goal. 

4. Always State Goals in a Positive Manner

No matter what kind of goal you set, be sure to state it in a positive manner. Focus on what you are trying to achieve instead of the skills or abilities you presently lack. Positivity will help encourage you to keep pushing forward — even when you face setbacks. 

Positive goals also train your mind to focus on the end result and the benefits you and your horse will enjoy if you persevere. 

5. Remember to Value the Accomplishments

Throughout the journey of achieving your goal, don't forget to value the accomplishments. For encouragement, you can have rewards for hitting certain milestones. As you celebrate your success as a rider, be sure to celebrate your horse's successes as well. After all, their hard work, effort and willingness to be a trusted partner is what allows us to achieve riding goals! 

Find the Equine Essentials You Need and Learn More About Horseback Riding With Horse Tack Co.

As you set your goals for the new year, make sure you have all the equestrian apparel, tack and supplies you need to love the ride. To learn more about horseback riding, be sure to keep up with our blog

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