California Riding Magazine • January, 2009

Riding Resolutions:
Setting Goals for the New Year.

by Kelley Fielder

After having a much-needed break this holiday season most of us are re-grouping and getting ready for the 2009 show circuit. We have all felt the crunch of a slowing economy and are making our budgets for the coming year. Most of my clients have expressed interest in showing less this season. So I have sat down with them to figure out their riding goals in order to organize a productive show schedule.

I find it very helpful to set goals with my clients at the beginning of every show season, just like you would set your New Year’s resolutions. These goals can range from larger outcome goals to more defined performance goals. Creating goals for ourselves as riders gives us a plan of attack. For instance, if I know my clients’ goals are qualifying for USET Finals or winning jumper classics, I am going to make sure we go to horse shows that have those particular classes. Winning classes and championships are examples of outcome goals. These goals can only be achieved if we create a plan to attain them. This is where performance goals come into play.

Improving your ride in a bending line, perfecting inside turns and developing a better position are good examples of performance goals. These are the most important goals to set because they are the foundation that creates the win! Without focusing on these more defined goals, the larger outcome goals would be much harder to achieve. If my clients refine their bending lines, inside turns and positions they will have a better chance at winning some ribbons and attaining their outcome goals.

When planning your goals you should only have one or two related to outcome. More examples of outcome goals are moving up a division, winning a hunter classic or a year-end award. In contrast to these outcome goals, you should be setting a larger number of performance goals. Your performance goals can be basic ideas like keeping your heels down, keeping your eyes up, or picking up the correct lead. Things such as perfecting clean rounds, in-hand releases and leg positions are more advanced goals. Whether you are just starting to jump or if you are riding in a Grand Prix, it is important to discover what things you can improve upon so that you can focus on a few specific goals each time you get in the ring.

Goal setting gives riders, as well as their trainers, a strategy of what to work on and why. It is important to write out your goals rather than just talking about them. Also remember to look at them throughout the year, and adjust them as you improve! By the end of the year you should have a list of goals that you have achieved, and this will allow you to better refine a new set of goals for the following year.

Setting goals will also help your pocketbooks. Knowing what you want to achieve will enable you to pick and choose what shows will best suit your ambitions. This will also preserve your horse’s soundness because they won’t have to show every weekend. Because horses are creatures of habit they will appreciate having a well thought out program and you will find that they will improve along with you.

Kelley Fielder runs Surfside, LLC, a successful show jumping stable in Del Mar. She has learned good habits like setting goals through sports psychologist Dr.Timmie Pollock.