Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. Who’s the best possible person to set your annual riding goals?

A) You, of course, silly.

B) Your trainer—who else?

C) Your riding buddy who knows you well.

2. One of the best ways to super-charge your progress towards achieving goals is to:

A) set them high.

B) write them down.

C) keep them to yourself.

3.‘Drives from behind’ is an excellent goal to shoot for, meaning your horse:

A) excels at patterns.

B) has good impulsion.

C) steers easily on a loose rein.

4. True or false: It’s best not to track your progress toward a goal because it can be discouraging.

T / F

5. At the lope, a ‘sweepy’ horse achieves the goal of:

A) two-tracking from side to side.

B) swishing his tail beautifully.

C) moving his legs beautifully.

6. True or false: An excellent way to see if you’re making progress toward a specific riding goal is to have someone video you as you ride.

T / F

7. Which of these can be a reward to a horse that’s given you a correct response?

A) apple pieces

B) release of pressure

C) a rub on the neck

D) all of these

8.True or false: ‘Back to front’ describes an excellent goal for how to ride a horse.

T / F

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. A is correct. Goals must address your unique needs and aspirations, and no one knows you better than you. But, by all means, consult with your trainer or riding coach as you formulate your goals, plus pick the brains of your riding buddies. Input is good! Then make the final determination yourself.

2. B is correct. It’s been proven that writing goals down—preferably by hand, frequently—helps to program them into your brain and makes reaching them much more likely.

3. B is correct. A horse that drives from behind is rounding his back and reaching up underneath himself with his hind legs, all of which makes for beautiful movement and the impulsion you need to complete maneuvers or simply look great on the rail.

4. F is correct. As with writing goals down, tracking your progress will help move you steadily toward the achievement of those goals. Break larger goals down into component parts and track your progress week by week.

5. C is correct. Sweepy denotes relaxed, rhythmic swinging of the legs…the ultimate goal particularly for a pleasure horse.

6. T is correct. Seeing is realizing what you’re doing, so a video of you and your horse in action can “explain” things to you in a way nothing else can. Periodic videos are an excellent way to track progress.

7. D is correct. These are all pleasurable rewards to your horse and will help to reinforce whatever behavior he’s just given you.

8. T is correct. When you ride your horse back to front, you use your seat and legs to urge him forward into your hands. This sets him up to drive from behind as described in #3 above.

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