By Nicole Ponte

Sometimes in riding (and in life), the goals you are striving to achieve need to be changed or tweaked. It is a difficult decision and can feel as though you are giving up. On the contrary! By making those necessary changes, you are enabling yourself to become re-inspired and refreshed in your riding.

So, if it’s time to tweak or change your goals, fear not. Every rider has done it and will do it, and the key is to think of it as an opportunity.

When to Reconsider Your Goals

1. If every ride is “the same old…”

While schooling to perfection is great in theory, especially in detail-orientated disciplines such as dressage, it can sometimes cross the line from beneficial to monotonous. If you feel that you are simply going through the motions each ride and struggling to make progress, switching your ultimate goal gives you opportunity to spice up your mundane schooling routine to one more stimulating for horse and rider.

2. If your goals aren’t set high enough.

If you continuously set the bar too low for yourself, you will continue to quickly and easily surpass them. While smaller goals are good confidence boosters and stepping stones, lacking sight of a larger goal can lead to contentment and falling short of your full potential. Set the bar high for long-term goals, and then set attainable goals along the way.

3. If your goal is sky-high and you’ve hit a plateau.

I believe the sky’s the limit in regards to what you can achieve if you are willing to work for it. However, overenthusiasm can set you up for a goal too large for your current capabilities. If you have been working diligently towards your goal, but have hit a plateau of progress, changing the path you choose that will lead to your goal can be beneficial in moving you forward.

So You Need a Change…Now What?

1. Get inspired.

Before you create goals, get your creative juices flowing by watching riders you look up to at your barn, at shows, and on online videos. Ask yourself: What drives them to compete? What type of relationship do they have with their horse? How do they train? Are these things that I should strive for in chasing my own goals?

Watching and analyzing how other riders have worked their way up can help you decide on a goal you want to strive for and give you a good idea of the steps it takes to get there.

2. Set smaller goals.

One of the best ways to reach a larger goal is by creating multiple smaller goals, or stepping stones. Each stepping stone should build upon the prior one. Establish a timeframe with a realistic deadline for each goal, and categorize them as the more immediate “short term”, and further away “long term”.

3. Talk it through.

When I need help figuring what direction to go in my riding, the first person I turn to is my trainer. After decades of experience with horses, she is able to offer valuable advice and is willing to listen to my problems and help me work through them. Talk to a rider that you respect to help you form a path to take; they will be able to offer advice stemming from past experience. After all, two heads think better than one!