Monday 7 January 2019

2019 Goals

I’m going to do goals a bit differently this year. On another blog I read a comment (by JenJ) about goals that said, in part “Great! How are you gonna do it?” as a reaction to a goal. It’s a simple enough question but it really made me think. Just having goals isn’t enough, I also need a plan to achieve those goals. When I first made a list of goals for 2019 there were a total of 35 of them which I knew was too many. Thinking about them in terms of both what my goals were AND what would be involved to reach them allowed me to eliminate a few “just for the heck of it” type goals I had written down. Also, as I thought about it more I realized that there were a few central goals I had and some of the other goals were actually steps on the way to reach the bigger goals. I realized how important it is for me to clarify both my end goals and the steps to reach them. External factors can impact the timelines required to reach ultimate goals but as long as I am working on the steps I am heading in the right direction. On the other side, I might find new steps or approaches but as long as they direct me towards my ultimate goals it is okay to change the plan a bit. With that said, I am going to define my Ultimate Goals, the related 2019 Goals for each, and the steps that will get me there.  

Ultimate Goal #1
Be fair to my horse, both on a day-to-day basis and ensuring her future health and happiness

2019 Goal #1A
Make Kachina a more solid citizen so her future is protected in case my circumstances change.

Steps to Goal #1A
  • Have other people handle Kachina
  • Get better at bridling
  • Improve competitive record (see goal #6)
  • Develop ability to jump up to 2’
  • Ask other people for feedback on what we need to improve to be more marketable for lease or lessons
  • Do other cross-training or participate in all-around type event

2019 Goal #1B
Be fair to Kachina on a day-to-day basis

Steps to Goal #1B
  • Provide regular vet and farrier care as required
  • Continue to choose turnout and living situations that optimize her quality of life
  • Develop grooming/tacking up routine that is minimally frustrating for either of us
  • Keep expectations reasonable and increase training pressure/expectations only on ‘good’ days/when Kachina relaxed
  • Advocate for my horse and stop working with trainers or other people who are not being fair to her
  • Have Kachina and I improve in dressage through methods that build our cooperation and trust
  • Use supplements as required to improve relaxation in the barn
  • Re-evaluate all other goals as required to keep Kachina happy and healthy (this one is goal #1 for a reason)

Ultimate Goal #2
Enjoy horses and riding

2019 Goal #2
Find my horsey joy as much as possible

Steps to Goal #2
  • Go on trail rides
  • Find a fun activity to do in the snow/cold
  • Canter or gallop out in the fields
  • Even when I am stressed or short on time, go out and smell and pet my horse
  • Spend time working on throughness and lengthens (my favorite parts of dressage)
  • If the pursuit of other goals gets too intense, step back to find my happiness
  • Ride with friends
  • Participate in local shows and clinics
  • Participate in a Pace and Chase

Ultimate Goal #3
Make a positive impact to the horse and dressage community

2019 Goal #3
Make a positive impact to the horse and dressage community in 2019

Steps to Goal #3
  • Organize another local dressage show
  • Be an active participant of my area dressage association
  • Be an active participant of the community equestrian facility board
  • Help out with other events
  • Be kind and helpful when people ask me things
  • Propose one new initiative

Ultimate Goal #4
Work through the Dressage Levels to reach Prix St. George, achieving scores of 63% or higher under high level judges

2019 Goal #4
Achieve a score of 63% or higher at First Level and start schooling Second Level

Steps to Goal #4
  • Test ride regularly to determine weaknesses
  • Video my rides at least once a month and critique them myself
  • Perfect the trot-canter transition (it’s dressage, perfection doesn’t exist, but make it so this transition is good and consistently good, where I can smoothly pick up a canter anytime and anywhere)
  • Add walk-canter transitions into our regular repertoire
  • Practice canter-walk transitions
  • Develop rein-back movement
  • Get comfortable doing patterns in canter (various size circles, diagonals, straightaways, loops etc.)
  • Increase steepness of leg yield without losing back
  • Improve stretchy trot circle to a ‘7’ (means much more stretch, much more consistency, and better transitions in/out)
  • Keep more suppleness and throughness in the lengthened gaits
  • Lose weight
  • Take up contact with my elbows not my wrists
  • Sit the canter better
  • Use outside rein more properly to control the shoulder
  • Use shoulder-in, shoulder-fore to improve our straightness and throughness
  • Choose lessons/clinics/trainers that will specifically help us with weaknesses
  • Go into each lesson with a specific goal (if plan needs to change that is okay, but at least have one)
  • Stop cross-training work if it starts to negatively impact dressage
  • Do at least one real dressage ride a week (other days can be fun, cross-training, ground-work, etc)
  • Ride in front of Medium status or higher judge that I respect

Ultimate Goal #5
Become a dressage judge

2019 Goal #5
Make some progress towards my recorded judge application

Steps to Goal #5
  • Audit with a Senior or FEI judge
  • Use videos and real competitions to practice judging on my own
  • Volunteer to judge a non-rated show
  • Pass the EC judging exam
  • Talk to judges and dressage riders I know about being references for me (need 5 total, 2 judges)
  • Work towards 2nd Level scores (note: I likely will not complete the requirement of 2nd Level scores this year, but it sounds like I can still submit application and have my judging status pending until I complete this last requirement)
  • This goal is not as time sensitive so I will be happy with any progress even if I don't complete all these steps

Ultimate Goal #6
Achieve some competitive success in riding (what that looks like may vary from year to year)

2019 Goal #6A
Earn an ADA Horse and Rider recognition award (63%+ at 3 rated shows)

2019 Goal #6B
Start earning scores towards Bronze Medal (65%+ at Silver or Gold show)

Steps to Goal #6A/B
  • See steps for Goal #4 as well
  • Get EC Passport for Kachina
  • Get EC Silver Sport License
  • Pay lifetime EC Dressage Award Registration fee (need to do before any scores can count towards medal)
  • Plan and budget for show season in advance, including back up shows (however if I bomb more than one show I might need to call it and defer these goals to next year, show season is short and I don’t have enough money to keep trying excessively. My aim is to prep enough so this doesn’t happen)
  • Compete in 3 or more dressage shows overall
  • Compete in at least one Silver or Gold show
  • Start show prep in January (the Spring shows always sneak up on me and I’m left feeling unprepared)
  • Prepare specific training plan leading up to first show and stick with it
  • Decide what classes to enter each show to maximize success (this includes whether I am shooting for Training Level scores, First Level scores, or both)
  • In weeks prior to each show, stop making changes and work on consistency to reduce risk of new problems popping up at show (this has happened to me too many times)
  • Choose certain key weeks where riding needs to be prioritized over other life commitments


  1. Interesting way to break it down. Goals really are pointless if not achievable. I really like how clearly you thought through how to get there.

  2. These are excellent goals. Ambitious but not crazy. :)

  3. Making the plan for the goals is exactly how you achieve them. Great exercise!