I want to begin by reminding you that you can start this process at any time throughout the year. The date is not important. Planning out the upcoming year in your riding will help you to get really clear on what you and your horse are working towards together.
I also suggest taking the time to complete a review of the previous 12 months if this applies to you. This way, you can begin creating a plan that actually works for you and your horse. I have an episode on this for you to work with HERE
What Are You Working Towards…
So before you can begin planning, you need to have a clear idea about what you actually want to make happen when it comes to the upcoming year in your riding. Start by clearly defining your equestrian goals. Consider both short-term and long-term things you would like to make happen in the coming year.
Asking yourself questions can help you to begin to develop some more clarity about this…
- What specific riding skills do I want to improve or master?
- Are there specific competitions or events I want to participate in?
- Do I have any horse-related personal development goals, such as building confidence or developing a deeper connection with my horse?
- Is there a new or different discipline we can try together?
- How can I measure progress toward this goal?
- Is my goal realistically achievable given my current circumstances?
- Is this goal relevant to my overall long-term aspirations as an equestrian?
Get a Yearly Planner…
Okay, now for the fun part. I love ‘seeing’ the year from afar. You know, being able to clearly see the full year laid out before me – big picture style! I have a couple of A1 laminated yearly planners that I use each year for different things. My suggestion is to get yourself one of these, and then get to work…
- Start by including any significant dates or blocking out any periods where riding won’t be possible (I include school holidays, birthdays, short trips, business appointments, etc. here when I am doing my planning)
- Then begin thinking about your goals, your available time, your resources, and facilities, and begin to play with ‘end dates’ for your goals and ‘timelines’…
- Because some goals have specific dates (competitions or events), make sure you also include these in your initial ‘marking out’
- From here, whip out the Post-it notes… And on each one, put something that needs to change in order to get you from where you are right now in your riding, to where you want to go
- Now, it’s simply a matter of adding the ‘stepping stones’ (your Post-it notes) to your planner – and again, spending time playing with this and putting it through the filter of ‘is this possible given all of my unique circumstances
It can also be helpful, when doing this process, to ask yourself a few honest questions and allow the answers to these to help guide you as well.
- What riding skills do I already possess?
- How much time can I realistically dedicate to horse-related activities each week?
- Do I have access to the necessary facilities, equipment, and support?
Your Year in Your Riding
Now, obviously, when we are working with horses, there is a lot of wiggle room for things to go off plan! And this is especially true when we are taking a whole year in your riding into account! So, while having the ‘big picture 40,000’ view over the year is great and helpful, I feel that you can only really get specific in the first three months. And, even then, a lot can happen in 13 weeks!
However, I do feel that month three (and we are working backward here) can be ‘fairly’ fleshed out, month two even more so… And month 1 – the next 30 days in your riding – can be pretty detailed.
Will it all go to plan? No, probably not. But having a plan and making riding and training a non-negotiable, will help you to make progress towards your goals.
I also think that this first month is a great time to begin to anticipate potential challenges and obstacles that may show up along the way. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are the common challenges faced by equestrians working towards similar goals?
- How can I proactively address or overcome these challenges?
- Are there potential setbacks I should be prepared for, and how can I mitigate their impact?
- What, in the past, has slowed me down or caused me to go ‘off track’
- How can I help or support my horse throughout this training timeframe?
Regular Reviews & Timely Adjustments
Finally, I do believe that you MUST make reviews a regular occurrence in your riding… This will help you to both stay on track – and it will allow you to assess each ride or session afterward through the filter of ‘Will this move me closer to the big goal?’.
Taking an hour or two to really focus on concentrating on what you want to achieve in your riding is fun. And, in my opinion, if you include Post-its, a planner, and something nice to nibble on or sip – it’s even better!
And this clarity will help to begin motivating. you to really working towards something special this year in your riding.
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