Friday 5 January 2018

A Note on Goals

I have been putting a lot of thought into goals for the new year and the new quarter. Coming up with personal and work goals seemed relatively simple, but I kept hitting a mental wall when I tried to define my equestrian goals. I'm no stranger to goals, I make goals regularly and I usually have enough of a plan in the back of my head that when I sit down to write out goals they come to me pretty quickly. It took me a while to figure out what the disconnect was this time but I finally realized the two big questions that make goal setting hard this year:

1. Do I want to follow my plan or a trainer's plan?

I'm a super independent person and rider, especially in the years since I've started dressage. I ride by myself 90%+ of the time and generally everything from making goals to coming up with a show schedule is done as a solo exercise. My independence has helped me become a better rider in some ways, teaching me to think through training issues and come up with solutions on my own. I'm also the person in the world who knows my horse best and that's important. However, there is still so so much for me to learn and having a trainer is invaluable with learning new techniques and proven approaches.

The whole theme of 2017 was becoming not so autonomous anymore. I took a lot of lessons in 2017, more than I have most years, but I lacked a lot of structure with the lessons as they were taught by several different instructors and the timing of the clinics was a bit haphazard. I feel like I am still adjusting to the new paradigm of there actually being dressage in my area, and therefore I didn't get as much out of the lessons as I could have. I didn't actively ask myself or the trainers about how working with them might fit in with my pre-existing goals, and I was sometimes torn in rides at home about whether I should work on what I the "homework" prescribed in my last lesson or whether I should focus on what I myself saw as most important that day. I don't want the same thing to happen this year.

This year, there will be even more opportunities for me to learn from dressage trainers and I want to make the most of that. There is one trainer I am planning to work with on a more regular basis starting at the end of January. She has proven that she knows what she is talking about and has a fairly structured progression of basics that she works with her students on. If I'm going to work with her I think I need to be willing to listen to her priorities. I can have goals of what I want to achieve with Kachina but I need to give up a bit of control as to how or when we get there.

2. What's the end date/goal?

The second problem with goal setting this year is that part of my life plans will likely interfere with my riding in a big way. I am getting married this summer and both me and my SO want to grow our family after that happens, as in have kids, as in try and get pregnant. I do really want kids but the idea of having them is tough from a rider standpoint. I'm actually surprised that I know of so few people who have tackled the whole baby and horse thing considering how much of blogland and my real life equestrian scene is populated by women in their 20s and 30s. I don't have a whole lot of examples as to how this might go.

There's two components to the having kids thing. First is the pregnancy itself. I feel like I will probably want to follow the medically recommended approach of stopping riding in the second trimester so I am trying to mentally prepare myself for being grounded for 6 months. The tough thing is that I don't know when exactly that 6 months will start, it could be in the second half of 2018 but could be longer. How long do I have? What can I accomplish before then? What's the best plan for Kachina while I'm grounded? Also, how long is it going to take me to rebuild my core muscles afterwards? Second, there's the baby itself. I like to think I will be one of those people who will be back riding a few weeks after giving birth, but I know having a baby is a pretty profound lifestyle change so I'm trying to not be too rigid in my plans (which is really hard for me!). I know I definitely still want horses in my life, but I'm not sure what exactly that will look like so I am trying to be realistic and realize that competitive goals might take a backseat for a while.

Neither of these subjects are truly problems. I am stoked to have a trainer that needs to be considered in making a plan this year, and I feel super lucky that my life is so full with love, family, career, and horses that fitting in everything is the issue. I just wanted to provide some clarity to myself as well as you about why my goals might look a little different this year. Have any of you dealt with these goal complications before?


  1. Those are some very exciting changes! Congrats!
    No children here, but I am back in a place where I am much more autonomous, it's quite isolated here. I'm lucky my coach is willing to visit once a month for clinics but yeah, I've sort of let go of any time frame related specs for my goals...they haven't changed, but I'll get there when I get there!

  2. I hope you figure it out. I haven't even managed to do my goals post for 2018 because I don't know how to deal with my riding goals versus the life change of moving across the country. I feel like it's unlikely I'll accomplish much this year.

  3. Having kids and riding seems tough but so many bloggers seem to be taking the plunge lately, so I do not think you will be alone and there is a whole online community to lean on!