Sunday, November 09, 2014

How to Set Effective Goals for Your Riding

Having clear objectives will help you and your horse get the most out of every schooling session.
By Sarah E. Coleman | November 7, 2014

Riding lessons, whether with an Olympic-caliber trainer or a local professional, can be a worthwhile investment in deepening your partnership with your horse. But in order to get the most bang for your riding-lesson buck, you’ll need to have clear goals in mind to which you can compare your progress.

The Big Picture
Though goals may vary across disciplines and skill levels, their general purpose is the same: to provide benchmarks on how you and your horse have progressed (not necessarily in a straight line!) from where you were as a team at set points in the months or years past.

Many riders can pinpoint one large goal they would like accomplish, whether it’s something as monumental as "I want to jump a Grand Prix showjumping course” or something more basic like "I want my horse to be safe and quiet when on the trail.” But it can be harder to break that large goal down into bite-sized, easily attainable pieces.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no linear path every horseman must follow to get a broke horse; instead, it’s up to each individual rider to determine what stepping stones are best for her and her horse to reach their end goal.

It’s also helpful to keep a sense of humor and realize that for every step forward, you and your horse might take one backward—and that’s OK. We might not all ride the next Roxy or Totilas, but there’s nothing wrong with endeavoring to make your horse the best he can be.

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