Columnist and BHS riding instructor Senara Caddy discusses how goal setting is a powerful tool for success.

P1040763 (2)No matter what your sport, goal setting plays a huge part in building your confidence, developing existing skills, and learning new ones. Horse riding is very challenging so it is easy to become despondent. How many of you have asked yourself at some point “Why do I bother, I may as well give up”?

Setting personal goals will enable you to stay positive, focus your attention, maintain and enhance motivation as well as increase your confidence. Goal setting helps you develop new strategies to reach your desired outcome and encourages you to stick to plans. There is nothing more rewarding than achieving a personal goal.

Your ultimate goal might be to qualify and compete at Horse of the Year, it could be representing your pony club at a teams’ event or it could be to complete your first one day event, dressage test, and show jumping round. You may want to go up the grades in your chosen discipline, win champion at your local ribbon day, or it may be as simple as wanting to canter around the perimeter of a paddock confidently. No matter what it is, how big or small the goal, it is a personal journey for you and your horse.

Here are some tips for goal setting:

Be realistic. Keep your goals challenging but not so difficult that they become too hard to achieve.

Sit down and discuss your goals with your coach. Your coach will be able to give you advice on what skills or qualifications you need to achieve your goals and help with the process of achieving them. It is also important to have someone who can give you positive and constant support.

Break down your goals. By writing down each step you need to take to achieve your goals it will make them seem less daunting and therefore more achievable. Breaking down your goals will also help you maintain your motivation and attention. Start small and goal by goal eventually builds up to the ultimate one. Always be aware of the next step you need to take.

Write it down. Keeping a clear, written record in a notebook will help you to stay focused. Write down when you have achieved any one of your goals so if you are ever feeling negative, you can read it for a self-confidence boost.

Adapt your goals to change. Remember just like circumstances change, goals do too. Be prepared for setbacks with your horse such as lameness issues, ill health, or training problems.

Don’t forget about your own health and well-being. If something does go wrong, don’t give up, stay positive and make a diversion in your plan to your next goal.

Good luck and remember goal setting is a powerful tool to success.

Senara has over 20 years experience as a equestrian coach. She worked at Kyrewood Equestrian Centre in Palmerston North for 15 years before leaving to go back to her hometown in England earlier this year. While working at Kyrewood she was the Head Coach and taught many of the NZQA programmes they held. She studied at the British Horse Society where she attained her Intermediate Instructor (BHSII) qualification. She was also a Equestrian Sport New Zealand Development Coach, and ESNZ Coach Advisory Team Member. Recently she launched her own coaching business on Facebook, Equest Coach.

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