Six types of goals equestrians need to succeed



Six types of goals equestrians need to succeed

Many of the most successful people in the world have gotten to where they are thanks to their goal-setting skills. Equestrians are no exception. Without goals, you will end up riding around aimlessly day after day. If you want to make serious progress in your riding and horsey life, then you need to set a variety of goals and work towards them. But before you can start riding away in efforts to achieve your goals, you need to make sure you have useful goals set. Every goal should meet the SMART criteria:

  • Specific – Be as specific as possible when setting goals. For example, “Become a better rider,” is a lousy goal. Instead, think along the lines of “Ride with steadier hands.”
  • Measurable – You need to be able to determine when you have accomplished your goal so saying, “Ride with steadier hands,” isn’t very measurable. Change it to something like, “Score a 29.0 in dressage.”
  • Achievable – Being realistic sucks but it is part of being an adult. A goal such as “Win the Olympics with a score of 29.0,” may not be realistic unless you are Michael Jung reading this article. Perhaps consider a goal such as, “Finish on my dressage score at an FEI event.”
  • Relevant – Set goals that will contribute to you getting where you want to be in life. You know where you want to be with your riding, so always keep the big picture in mind.
  • Time-Bound – If you don’t put a time frame on your goals, you’ll likely never get around to accomplishing them. Sure, with horses it is tough to accomplish things in a set time frame, but you can always adjust the goal due date accordingly.

Now that you have a clear idea on how to set an appropriate and useful goal, it is time to explore which six types of goals you need to be a successful equestrian. Some of your goals will overlap into multiple categories, and that is okay. But you should have at least one goal in each of these categories to be a prosperous equestrian.

1) Long-term goals: A long-term goal is any goal that will take you at least one year to accomplish and often much, much longer. Use these goals to guide you on everything you are working on. Long-term goals are things you dream about achieving (keyword, ‘dream’ not ‘fantasize’, these goals still need to be realistic) and if you plan your other goals wisely, you will make them a reality.

Some examples of long-term equestrian goals:

  • Complete a CCI3* event
  • Master the art of training young horses
  • Qualify for the Olympics or World Equestrian Games
  • Own seven horses and buy a barn to board them at

The amount of time to accomplish your long-term goals may vary, but these are the goals that you cannot speed up accomplishing even if you work your guts out. These big goals are what will motivate you to work on the smaller ones.

2) Short-term goals: These are the goals that make accomplishing your long-term goals possible. Short-term goals should take no more than a year to accomplish and can operate on as small of time scale as a day or less to accomplish.

Examples of short-term goals:

  • Practice my dressage test for my next competition
  • Jump a 3ft course at home
  • Finish my next cross-country round inside of the optimum time

Make sure your short-term goals are achievable and you don’t set the time frame for them too tightly. Otherwise, you will end up getting discouraged and accomplishing nill.



Now within the two categories, we just covered, there are four specific categories that cover the different aspects of your equestrian life.

3) Personal development goals: This is a broad category of goals that can cover anything from health goals to equitation goals to attitude goals. What sets this category apart from the others it has nothing to do with your results at competitions, finances or overall career.

Examples of personal growth goals for equestrians:

  • Start an off the horse exercise regime
  • Keep all of my tack clean on a regular basis
  • Develop a stronger leg position over fences
  • Be more confident when riding a spooky horse

It’s easy to focus on working towards competition oriented goals, but you also need to set personal growth goals. Without personal growth goals, you will lose yourself obsessing over competition results. Personal growth goals will ultimately make you a better rider, person and horseman.

4) Financial goals: Equestrian sports are expensive to participate in. Unless you are already fortunate enough to have a substantial bank account, you are going to need some money to fund your riding. Financial goals can cover a big range of areas from saving money by improving spending habits to making more money by coaching more lessons. No matter what your long and short-term goals are, having money will do nothing but help you accomplish them in this sport. Take some time to add up how much money you will probably end up spending accomplishing your long-term goals and then develop a plan to earn this amount of money. It sucks, but nothing in the horse industry is free, and you need to set goals to account for this reality.

5) Career goals: Regardless of whether or not you are a full-time equestrian if you compete a horse you have some form of a riding career. Perhaps think of career goals more of ‘competition’ goals. When setting career goals, you have to be particularly mindful of setting goals that will not only make you happy but also benefit your overall career/long-term goals.

For example, as tempting as it might be to run your horse fast on every cross-country course so you can earn more ribbon finishes, it may be smarter to save your horse’s legs and only run quickly at the odd event that matters for one reason or another. That way, you will have a sound horse to compete at a CCI event eventually. Or maybe you want to enter a horse show next weekend, but if you do that you won’t be able to afford lessons this month. Assess whether that show will benefit you in the long run, or if you’d be better off to get those lessons. The big picture is invaluable when setting career goals.

6) Business goals: This type of goal is not applicable to every equestrian. Business goals are the ones that help you make money in the horse industry with your equestrian skills. These goals could be anything from coach five more lessons a week, to find a suitable OTTB for a resale project, to build up social media presence to attract sponsors. Many of these goals tie in tightly with your financial goals and even your career goals. Owning and running a business is for people who can set goals and work diligently to achieve them.

If you want to make money in this cut-throat industry than you better get good at setting all six types of goals covered in this article. We are not even halfway through 2018 yet, think of all the goals you can have checked off by the end of this year. Don’t wait for the next New Year’s, start setting and crushing your goals now!

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