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How to Set SMART Goals for You and Your Horse

As equestrians, our love for horses is boundless, but even the most dedicated riders can find themselves struggling with motivation when it comes to maintaining their health and fitness goals. Whether it's the demands of daily life, setbacks in training, or simply feeling uninspired, we've all experienced those moments where our motivation seems to have taken a detour.

However, staying consistent is crucial for both our own well-being and the success of our partnership with our equine companions. Today we'll explore practical strategies to reignite your passion and stay on track with your horse and health goals, even when motivation is in short supply.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals:

girl holding a bowl of chicken and rice.

We all have dreams of where we want to take our horses, but a dream not written down with no end date is just that - a dream. In order to turn our dreams into goals, we need to remember to be SMART.

S: Specific

Define your SPECIFIC goal. “I want to get healthier” is NOT specific. There are so many different ways, meanings, and roads to being ‘healthier’. Instead, something like “I want to lose 10 lbs” or “I want to go to the gym 3x/week” to be more specific.

M: Measurable

A goal that isn’t measurable is just a thought. “I want to get healthier” or “I want to ride better” are neither specific nor MEASURABLE. How can you tell if you’re getting ‘healthier’? How can you tell if you’re riding “better”? When you can’t measure your goal, you are left with an unclear path forward and the probability of you giving up becomes high. 

So, something like “I want to lose 10 lbs” or “I want to hold a correct equitation seat for my 30 minute lesson” are both measurable. This will help you stay driven and motivated to continue to practice and work towards your end goal. 

A: Achievable

It’s important as you’re setting your goal, that you are realistic about the achievability of the goal you’re setting. Setting a goal to have your Clydesdale come in first place in your 50-mile endurance ride is probably not the most achievable goal. Be smart about the types of goals you are setting. If you aren’t sure if your goal is achievable, talk with someone who has gotten where you want to be and ask them.

R: Relevant

Your goal should align with your overall values and with who you are striving to become as a person. If your value is prioritizing family time, then setting a goal that requires you to be away for important family events isn’t going to be relevant for you. If you value spending as much time in the saddle as you can, then setting a goal to be at the gym for hours every day will also not be relevant for you.

T: Time-bound

A goal without an end date keeps you from moving forward. Some goals may be more broad and require some time, such as "I want to compete at the AQHA World’s Show" or "I want to compete in Tevis". Both of these goals will take quite a bit of time to build both yourself and your horse up for, so breaking these types of goals down into smaller step goals will be needed like so:

  • To compete at the AQHA World Show, you will need to make a goal of riding your horse consistently each week, breaking down each maneuver you’ll be required to do, and building those up, and placing well enough in local shows that you can qualify.

  • To compete in Tevis, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time conditioning both you and your horse, as well as competing in enough AERC rides to earn the required points.

Staying consistent with our horse and health goals requires dedication, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to our passions.

By setting specific, measurable goals, making sure that they align with your values, have an end date, and are truly achievable for you and your horse, you can have a clear path forward of the steps you need to take within your journey.

Remember, a dream not written down, with no way to measure, and no end date is just a dream.

So let’s put that dream into action!

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