Enjoy the Journey

As with anything in life, when we have goals, we want to achieve them as soon as possible. When it comes to setting goals with your horse, your riding, or in the show pen though, take a step back and stop being so hard on yourself. Beating yourself up for not achieving success as quickly as you think you should will only hinder your progress, and that of your horse. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of wanting to succeed quickly, or feeling like we’re not making enough progress compared to others. But when we allow ourselves grace and patience, we can actually make more meaningful advancements in our riding journey. Try these four tips when you’re feeling behind, and demoralized if you’re not progressing as quickly as you’d like.

Set SMART goals, make them attainable, and show yourself some grace on your journey. Guy Bryant/adobe.stock.com

Set Attainable Goals

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s natural to want immediate results. We see other riders accomplishing amazing feats on social media, or watch them excel in competitions and we want to catch up quickly. However, it’s important to remember that every rider has their own unique journey. Instead of trying to achieve everything at once, break your goals down into smaller, more attainable ones. This will not only help you focus on one thing at a time, but also give you a sense of accomplishment as you check off each goal.


When setting goals for yourself and your horse, it’s important to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By following this method, you are setting realistic expectations for yourself and creating a clear plan for achieving your goals.

  • Specific: Be clear about what exactly you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying “I want to improve my strength in the saddle”, specify a clear goal like, “I want to be able to use my core and legs to comfortably long trot for 15 minutes while maintaining balance and posture.”
  • Measurable: Set quantifiable goals so you can track your progress. This could include things like completing a certain number of lessons or achieving a specific score in a competition.
  • Attainable: It’s important to set goals that are challenging but still within reach. Don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals align with your overall riding aspirations and are relevant to your current skill level.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline for when you want to achieve your goal. This will help keep you accountable and motivated.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when working towards our riding goals is comparing ourselves to others. Every rider has their story. We all put the time in in the saddle to achieve our goals, and our environment and circumstances can affect our progress. It’s important to focus on your own growth and not get discouraged by someone else’s achievements.

Social media has given us an outlet to learn, grow, and educate ourselves while being inspired by other riders. But, it’s also very easy to watch from afar while others seem to hit milestones, and feel like we’re being left behind. Remember that social media is often a highlight reel without showing the hard work behind the scenes. Comparison is the thief of joy. Try to have the mindset that you are your own competition, and strive to be 1% better each ride.

Show Yourself Grace

Most importantly, remember to show yourself grace throughout the process. Be kind to yourself and recognize that setbacks and challenges are a natural part of any journey. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve your goals as quickly as you’d like. Instead, celebrate small victories and use any setbacks as learning opportunities.

Achieving goals with your horse and riding takes time, patience, and most importantly, showing yourself grace. Set realistic goals for yourself, be patient in your progress, and don’t compare yourself to others. The journey to success in the saddle is just that; a journey. The destination will be sweet and you’ll be proud of the hard work you’ve put into coming so far. But in the meantime, enjoy the process, and savor every ride. Each ride is a gift, so don’t get so caught up in trying to GET caught up, that you miss out on the beauty of being able to swing a leg over a horse.


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