While the beginning of a new year would normally have us feeling full of hope and motivated, this year is different. 2020 has challenged us and if you are like me, you may not be feeling quite ready to plan ahead yet as you just don’t know if it will be a fruitless exercise. I am going to reframe by typical goal setting and here are my top 5 tips on how to plan for success in 2021.
Tip #1: Set Training Targets - Not Competition Goals
Normally, at the start of the season I will select competitions & events that I want to aim for and from there, I work back to set my training targets.
This year however, I am flipping it around and I am going to focus on my training targets, not competitions. This way, if there is a competition that we can enter and show off our hard work, excellent – we will be ready! BUT if shows were to get cancelled, I will still feel that we reached our goal and that sense of accomplishment that goes with it!
Tip #2: Organise your Goals into Short - Medium - Long Term.
I recommend breaking goals down into Short, Medium and Long term goals and by doing so, you are less likely to become over faced or overwhelmed.
Short Term – Days to Weeks. I will use session planners to outline a progressive system for my individual sessions.
Medium Term – Months. The weekly goals should assemble together to equip you for your monthly target.
Long Term – Years. Again the monthly goals once assembled should leave the long term goal achievable.
As an example, if your long term goal is to be able to jump a course of 1.10m.
Your short term, weekly goals would be pole work, exercises to improve rideability and practice lines and combinations.
Medium term goals would be to join these lines and combinations together and be able to ride a course of fences starting at a height within your comfort zone and progress.
Long term goals would be to increase the height of these fences until they reach 1.10m and to feel like they are then falling comfortably within your comfort zone.
In the beginning, if you hold too much focus on the long term goal, the climb to the top of the mountain may seem daunting as you may not take into account all the training and experience you will be gaining on the journey to the top. When you have a systematic approach to your training, you can trust that when the time comes to take the last step to hit your long term goal, you will be ready.
Tip #3: Plan your sessions
As I previously mentioned, I like to use session planners. Writing down what you have planned for a session will help keep you focused on the task at hand and will help prevent your sessions becoming too complicated for both you and your horse. I also like to only have one main focus per session. For example, one day I will focus on lateral movements, another day I will focus on transitions, another day it will be canter changes etc.
By planning and adding focus to your sessions, it allows you to assess and analyse and digest how the session went, what was good and what needs work. Mini successes and mini targets. These are the most important moments and they will all add up!
Tip #4: Record your accomplishments
If you plan your sessions, you then have an opportunity to analyze how they went. How did it go? Was I able to achieve my goal?
If you acknowledge your short term accomplishments, you will quickly learn (and remember!) what works for you and thus be able to add the exercises and techniques to your “toolkit” for the future.
If you have found a particular training session difficult, acknowledge it as an area of weakness and you may want to seek advice from your trainer on how to work through it. No matter the outcome of the session, acknowledging your accomplishments will help you to navigate through the weaknesses.
Tip #5: Find a Good Trainer to Help
This, in my opinion, is the most important tip. Working with a trainer will help in many ways but here are the ones I feel are relative to goal setting.
They will help you set realistic and achievable training goals – We love our horses and often feel that they are destined for 5 Star or Grand Prix levels. Your trainer should help politely corral your dreams and wishes into achievable steps on your journey to greatness!
They keep you accountable – to achieve our goals, we often need to be held accountable for taking the necessary steps. Trainers are the perfect person to be answerable to!
They are equipped to help you if you hit a roadblock – We will all hit a bump in the road with our training at some point and having the knowledge and experience of your trainer at hand to help get you back on track will prove invaluable.
They will know when goals need to be reassessed / adjusted – As we all know, life with horses is unpredictable and while we can plan and set goals to our hearts content, neither they (nor we), are machines and we still need a certain level of flexibility with our goals. As we can often be a little too emotionally invested in our steeds, our trainers, being a step removed, may see and be able to advise when goals need to be reassessed or adjusted with the bigger picture in mind.
One of the main reasons behind Equicoach Online is to give people access to top quality coaching regardless of circumstances and location. On the website you will find training blogs and videos to help you and for those who wish to sign up to the Mailing List here, you will receive a FREE consultation with me, Sarah Elebert to help you set some training goals and get you on your way. Simply get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you have found these tips interesting and that they help you in achieving your training goals for 2021!
Best of Luck,