December Is an Important Month
December Is The Last Month Of The Year
December is the last month of the year. A time to look back on all we have accomplished with our horse and riding. It is also a time to look forward, toward what the next year might hold for us and our horsey life
Did You Set Goals For The Year?
Did you set goals for yourself and your horse for the year? I hope you did. Setting small achievable goals does a lot for your morale. It keeps you motivated to work towards something and then feel the success of making it happen.
Maybe you set goals for the month, that you broke them down week by week, and step by step. Maybe you just set a generalized goal, something like " by the summer I will be ready for a horse show". Each of us works differently when it comes to working towards goals. There is no wrong way to do it.
Just like everything else in life, our success with horses is going to be only as much as the effort we put into it. You can't set high expectations and then not do the work in between to make it happen. That is why, by setting small goals, amongst your overall goals for the year will help you and your horse succeed at whatever it is you might want to do.
So Did You Achieve Your Goals?
The year is winding now... you are running out of time to accomplish things, and we all know that when it comes to horses there are no rushing things. Make a list of the goals that you did meet this year, then write a second list of the goals that you did not meet.
Hopefully, there are plenty of things on your accomplished side of the list! If there aren't as many as you had hoped, no big deal. Now you are aware of what you need to work on and you can take steps towards accomplishing those goals.
Pat yourself on the back for what you have achieved. Now, for the things that you did not achieve, break them down into smaller steps to help you figure out how moving forward you can accomplish them.
You Should Have Separate Goals For Yourself And Your Horse
I know this sounds really odd since riding is a partnership between the horse and rider. The thing is neither people nor horses take well to being overwhelmed, or multitasking with things that are new to them. Sometimes you focus on yourself, sometimes you focus on your horse. Then, eventually, it will all come together smoothly.
If your goal for yourself is to improve your position in your dressage saddle, when you are working on that, you should be doing easy things for your horse. Things that allow you to focus on yourself and still ride effectively.
For example, if you have a lofty goal like improving your position in your dressage saddle and getting your horse to stay on the bit, well that is a lot to accomplish all at once. Setting you both up for miscommunication
What Does Miscommunication Lead To With Horses?
Frustration. That's right, it leads to frustration for both horse and rider. By setting our goal step by step and working towards things progressively we are helping to ensure that whenever possible we will not have miscommunications with our horse.
Obviously, we all have bad days, and sometimes it is inevitable that we won't get it right and neither will the horse, that is just part of the learning process. We can though, by being step by step and strategic, avoid a lot of those moments.
Evaluate Your Year
If you had goals set for this year. Evaluate them and see where you stand? Did you achieve them? Are you close to achieving them? Or farther away than when you started?
Write it down. Write down what you did accomplish as well as what you hope to accomplish in the upcoming year.
Try and Write A Detailed Idea Of What You Would Like To Accomplish
For example, maybe you have your own horse, you are a new horse owner and you would like to gain confidence with riding without your instructor and maybe go on a trail ride or to a local show.
See, that is a loose, wide-ranging sort of goal...You can then, throughout the year, break it up into steps.
So maybe January, your goal would be to communicate with your instructor what you want to accomplish and have him or her help you decide what the first step would be.
Then that first step, you will break down throughout the month of January. The small step is less daunting and easier to stay enthusiastic about since they are easier to achieve.
Write It Down, Check Things Off, Take Notes
Write things down, check things off your list and make notes. Having something to visually look at, I think is helpful. Not to mention you can circle and highlight and make it very clear what you need to do next or continue to work on.
Having it written down in a journal is also helpful for when you have a hard day you can read back on how far you have come.
Get A Notebook
* Write down what your goals were in 2018 and whether or not you achieved them
* Write down what your goals are for 2019.
* Start with January, and break that first goal down into specific things that you can do each week. Your instructor should be able to help you with this if you need help.
* At the end of the month, take note of what you did accomplish and then what needs to be carried over into February. Then when you turn your journal or calendar page to February. First, list what is left over from January that you still need to accomplish.
* Break that down over the course of the month into weekly steps. If you think you can move on to another goal as well, start to incorporate that.
* Continue this process through the year, setting goals, how to accomplish them. Most importantly take a lot of notes along the way. What you did, what worked and what didn't work?
This Goal Notebook/Journal Will Become Like A ToolBox
If you keep a goal notebook and journal for you and your horse throughout the year, it will become like a toolbox. You will be able to look back and see what exercises worked and what didn't and use that to help you keep moving forward.
It will be fun to see how far you have come throughout the year, and it will be encouraging to look back on how far you have come when you have a particularly rough day.
If you have a particular problem and you know you have dealt with it before then you can look back through your notes and see what you did to fix it last time. You can learn both what to do and what not to do from your notes.
It Seems Like A Lot Of Writing
It sure does! I know that not everyone has the obsessive personality trait that I have about wanting to write down, document and take notes on everything.
It can be as in-depth or as basic as works for you. To each their own of course. I think that once you start documenting your time with your horse and being able to look back at the steps you took and the steps you still need to take then you will be glad you took the time to do it.
Find Someone To Hold You Accountable
A riding buddy, maybe your instructor. Find someone who is going to ask you about your goals and the steps you have designed to meet them. Someone that will make sure you stay on track and give you suggestions if you get stuck.
It is easy to get started with something like this, but a lot harder to keep it going. That is why having someone to be accountable to and check in to is such a huge part of it being successful.
If you ride in a group lesson, maybe you can sit down with the people in your group and discuss what you are each personally working towards. Just tell someone and show someone your plans so they will check in on you and keep you moving forward.
There Is No Wrong Way
There is no wrong way to set your goals or document your riding journey. Whatever works for you is perfect! Remember horses are creatures of habit, and they thrive with routine and knowing what their riders expect of them.
By taking the time to come up with a plan and set goals, you are setting yourself up for success with your horse. Remember, horsemanship is a journey, never stop learning!