In December 2016 I started to offer an online course about Equestrian Goal setting. It’s one of my fun projects and my students really liked it.
What is your goal?
I enjoy helping other enthusiastic equestrians with splitting their goals into achievable steps. It has been so rewarding for me to see people achieve their own goals with a bit of help. I’ve been a riding instructor for decades and it always surprised me that experienced riders assumed I would set their goals. Their homework was: ‘Think about what you want to do with your horse” so I can help you achieve it.
I can help clients become a better dressage rider, but if they really want to be a jumper and I don’t know about it, they will never become be a good jumper if we don’t focus on some jumping techniques in the lessons.
One client wanted to ride competitions, but her stallion hadn’t left her property for years. We trailer loaded him and drove to a nearby competition ground to practice. It was the day before the competition, so no one was there. It was a very good experience. We kept going to competitions until he was more settled being in an unfamiliar surrounding with unfamiliar horses. At home we worked on riding techniques. The day she was ready for a dressage competition, her stallion was ready, too.
Another client lived near a forest and she bought a horse for trail riding. She didn’t have an arena at home and trail riding was her dream. Her horse was really herd bound and on top of that he was terrified to walk pass the mailbox at the beginning of her drive way. She couldn’t get him of the premises without being afraid to land in the ditch next to her mailbox. After a few clicker training lessons and some groundwork we went out for rides together: she on her beloved horse and I rode her bike. Mission accomplished.
Other examples of goals my student have are teaching their horse to stand for the farrier, align their horse to the mounting block/standing still while mounting, Spanish walk, cantering under saddle and trailer loading.
Some goals are simple (just one behaviour) and others are much more complex (a chain of behaviours), but they all give you that satisfied feeling when you accomplish them. I always encourage people to celebrate their successes: big and small. In hindsight the small steps are big ones!
Are your struggling with goals you want to achieve with your horse?
Do you have the feeling you haven’t made much progress or you could have achieved more if you only had some help? This is the course for you!
- Discover what your equestrian goals really are
- Learn techniques to set achievable goals
- Learn how to brake down a big goal into training sessions order to make it achievable and realistic
- Learn how to stay motivated and on track, even if you ‘fail’ or if ‘life happens’
- Learn to track your achievements
- Celebrate your successes with like-minded people!
Once you master the tools and techniques I hand you in this course, you can benefit the rest of your life from it.
What students said about the course
“I had a really empowering online coaching from Sandra, helping me put my problems in perspective. Now Iliana and I are really focusing on not grabbing for food wherever she goes, and with baby steps we are getting there. Lots of other things to train too, but one thing at a time I think. Thank you, Sandra, you are in inspiration!” Patricia, Spain
“Through her online course on goal setting, Sandra has given me excellent help in how to set achievable goals for my horse training. I’m now better able to see what I need to work on and enjoying achieving my goals. Thank you Sandra!” Ananja, The Netherlands
“I have enjoyed all of it. The course has really helped me think about what I actually want to do with my horse. You do a good job of helping focus on a goal. Loved the advice and support.”
“I have gained a lot so far. I’ve always had a bit of butterfly mind and tend to jump from one exercise to another too fast and not getting anywhere! Sandra have taught me to focus and take things in small steps. And its so helpful to read everyone else’s progress as well” (student is referring to the Facebook support group for this online course)
“What I like is that they (the exercises) are very doable as you have to answer to one thing at a time. I appreciate the way you give support a lot. You are critical in a good way, not letting me feel like everything I do is already perfect but also giving advice in a good way and helping to keep sharp.
I also got a little more insight into why I find it hard to succeed with training plans and what I could do to help myself with this.”
“I think this course is an excellent idea 🙂 You are always very supportive Sandra and make this feel like a safe place (the Facebook support group) to ask questions. Funny, but I’ve met a lot of R+ trainers who a very encouraging and positive with their horses but extremely critical of their human trainers. Sandra you walk and talk R+ in all areas – with horses and people 🙂 “
Here is why and how I started to set goals for myself:
Are you running out of ideas what to do with your horse? Especially in winter? I am never out of ideas when I am with Kyra. I always have many suggestions what to work on.
How do I do that? Well, I make goals. Long-term goals and I divide those into short-time goals. Then I divide those into even smaller building blocks, which are my every day ideas to choose from. I write them down in my training journal and then I print out a list to hang in my tack locker.
When Kyra was a still a feral filly I had many little goals to work on every day. Coming towards me instead of jumping into a corner of her stall when I opened a door, touching my hand/target stick/halter, standing still while being touched and so on. These where obvious goals.
What about my daily goals after 5 years of training? Kyra is 6 years old now and she is almost fully bomb-proof, very athletic and sensible and knows a lot of tricks. Are there any goals left for us to work on? Yes, plenty. If I get stuck I take a look at my long-term goals (10 year plan, 5 year plan, 1 year plan, 12 monthly goals) and I know what to do.
Every ‘dream goal’ has many ‘pillars’, take for instance a dressage level 4 test as one of my ‘ultimate’ goals. One pillar is a collection of all the exercises in that test (half pass, half pirouettes, collected walk, trot, canter, etc).
Another pillar contains all the building blocks to prepare a horse mentally for a competition. At a competition terrain there are many unfamiliar things happening, like music, flags, strange horses, white fences, flower pots and so on.
A third pillar could consist of all the building blocks required to make your horse a happy traveller. A fourth pillar could contain all husbandry skills, like standing still while saddling, braiding, or saddling in a strange environment.
There are hundreds of building blocks one can distill from just one long term goal, like riding a level 4 dressage test. If you make a sketch, it would look like this:
If you do the same thing with one behaviour and divide it into very small baby steps, you’ve created a shaping plan.
A shaping plan for ‘targeting‘ can look like this:
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