Figuring out and setting goals - beginner - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Figuring out and setting goals - beginner

Hi all! I'm new here, and a new rider, so please be gentle :)

I just recently started taking English lessons. I had maybe five or six lessons, 14 years ago, but never really even learned to post the trot reliably. I'm now 32, so getting a bit of a late start.

Anyway, I am one of those folks who does better when I have a goal in mind. For right now, I think it's just getting the basics down. I've just started to work on posting, for example, and I have a heck of a time trying to steer and post. I can only take lessons/ride once a week right now, though I am going to try to increase that ASAP.

I'd eventually like to do some jumping, and maybe work on dressage a bit so that I am a better rider and more in tune with the horse. But every time I try to google search riding goals, it seems like they assume I know a lot more than I do. How can I figure out a goal for, say, a year from now, and then figure out what steps I need to take to get there? I'd like to approach my trainer with at least half a clue of what I'm talking about.

I would like to show at least locally, so maybe tips on what classes there are and how people get started would be great. I read through the USEF rulebooks but they're a bit over my head.

Sorry for the long post!
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post #2 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 04:58 PM
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Keep them realistic, which means keeping them small. By setting too big of a goal, you set yourself up to fail, or not accomplish it in a set matter of time.

Right now, a realistic goal would be to figure out posting and steering at the same time. Once you have that down pat, master the canter.

Local shows don't always follow USEF rules, so don't worry about that for now.
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post #3 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! That's a good idea. I just like to have a larger goal in mind and then write down the smaller, measurable steps to get there, if that makes sense.
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post #4 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 06:06 PM
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Maybe start with the end goal, and then breaking down the parts needed to get there.

Goal: Want to jump
1. Learn to post and steer
2. Be able to W/T/C in good balance
3. Be able to trot & canter in half seat
4. Ground work over poles
5. Jump

There's obviously more in there, and you'll pick up some things more quickly than others, but you get the idea. Every part of riding involves building on some other skill. If you tell your instructor what you ultimately want to do, he or she should be able to develop you a way to get there in steps. Have fun and welcome back to riding.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #5 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 08:35 PM
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I like the thought of keeping goals small. AND being open to whatever comes to you lesson by lesson. You might go along great for a few weeks, then something comes up that is a stumbling block, and you will need to back down a bit and deal with what is in front of you. Or, the horse has some behavioral problems one day, so your lesson is how to motivate a stubborn horse (or whatever). Be flexible and be open. Be observant of yourself and the horse. The less you are looking ahead, the more you will see what is here and now, and riding is very much a thing of the here and now.

However, a nice one year goal would be to do an Intro Level show next Spring. That's just walk trot, but if it's at another locale, you'll be challenged with riding a horse that might be afraid of a new setting, stage fright and all the rest that goes with showing. I think that would be a great goal for next Spring.

Good Luck. Take videos and share them with us!
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post #6 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Tinyliny, that is pretty much exactly what I was wondering but didn't ask very well, I guess -- what's a good intro to showing? An intro level walk/trot seems like something I could really work towards.

I'll try to get someone to take a video. Sharing... I dunno!
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post #7 of 25 Old 10-19-2011, 09:52 PM
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Great sparrow! YOu will be glad you get videos now because in a year you will have forgotten how hard it was to post when you first started.

I remember when I first started and I had to ride my lease mare a mile to the arena for a lesson. we would trot much of the way and I was all over the place. I would worry that I was going to fall off before I even got to my lesson. Posting required me to actually "think" about it, every step of the way.

Now, I can post without much "thinking" at all. And, for the most part, I can post fairly effortlessly for long periods of time. It is very natural to me now. I so wish I had a video! But I do not.
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post #8 of 25 Old 10-20-2011, 04:35 AM
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I too have just restarted after about 15 yrs out of the saddle (37 yrs old now) but i too go to a weekly lesson and the rising trot has me stumped lol, riding is deffo not like riding a bike lol. One thing i did find helped was taking my stirupps up another notch.

Although last night my lesson went really well, i felt so comfortable and it all seemed to flow well, that is right up to the end when we do a few cross poles, he decided to refuse a few times, but i managed it in the end.
I think i need to go more than once a week, an hour just is not long enough for me.

Riding is so exhausting to be yet so relaxing, i stayed and watched the show jumping after my class, i find it very helpful to watch the more experienced riders and their positioning.

I do have more fear though even just on cross poles, children bounce - adults break lol
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post #9 of 25 Old 10-20-2011, 06:39 AM
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A good goal for you for the end of the year would be probably be to jump very small cross-rails or verticals at a trot. However, you may be farther along or not as far as that by the end of the year, and both are ok. Like others have said, remember to keep your mind open and if you feel like you are stuck on something don't get discouraged. It took me a few months to get my posting right!

Now, my instructor has a mental list she keeps of things you have to do before you move up to certain things. Here's the one she has for moving up to cantering:
*Be able to walk with and without stirrups
*Stand up in stirrups at the walk and trot'
*Two-point at the walk and trot
*Post on the correct diagonal
*Circle at the trot
*Change directions when trotting
*Be able to post with and without stirrups
*Be able to sit the trot with and without stirrups
*Be able to extend the trot

And there's the unsaid things: Can you do all this with a decent posture? Can you control more advanced horses while doing these things? Etc.

There's a LOT of stuff that goes into riding. I'd recommend reading a LOT of books. That way not only would you learn more about horses and riding, but you would also be able to set yourself realistic goals.

Before you do entry level showing, ask if your barn has any "Fun" shows. These shows are more for the spirit of it rather than to actually win anything, though they do usually have ribbons and maybe trophies. They don't usually require any special clothes (though you are supposed to dress nicely) or any very special grooming (but you are supposed to make sure your horse is groomed as best as you can). These make some good practice. But, if you have no choice but to do regular showing first:

*Make sure to bring a friend or two. They should preferably know something about horses or be able to learn in about two seconds. These people are your Grooms for the day. They will help you groom and tack up your horse, help keep track of which classes are happening and how many classes there are until your next class, give you a leg up if you need one, give you and your horse last-minute touch-ups while you're mounted and waiting for the other class to head out of the ring, and MORE! I would also make sure these people love you, because it's hard work .

*Make sure you know any rules the show may have.

*Make sure you know which classes you are in and how many classes you have to get ready inbetween them. (It's a good idea to try to get the worse of the arena dirt and/or mud off of your horse before you go to your next class if you can).

*Make sure there is somebody listening to the loud speaker!

*Bring money. You will get hungry and thirsty.


*Show sheen is my preferred shining spray. Make sure NOT to spray on the saddle area as this makes it very slippery.
*If your horse has white markings, baby powder works nicely for them.
*Baby oil for the ears and around the eyes.
*A spray bottle full of water is handy. I usually use it to help braid manes, but there's probably all sorts of ways you can use this.
*Fly spray.
*Curry comb, dandy brush, and a finishing brush.
*Mane and tail comb/brush.
*Hoof pick.
*Hoof paint. (If that's what it's mind just went blank lol!)
*Rubber bands for braiding.
*And more. The internet has tons of good ideas for making your horse look perfect on show day, the ones above are just what I usually use.


*Saddle pad
*Lead rope
*Any other things you may need


*Bobby and safety pins

And HAVE FUN! Remember, it's for fun, not so you can win! (Even though winning is a lot of fun, too )
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post #10 of 25 Old 10-20-2011, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks! Cinder, that mental list is the kind of thing I was looking for. I have a copy of Centered Riding and I also have a copy of Hunter Seat Equitation coming in the mail.

We've been doing some work over ground poles, at the walk and at the trot, which is fun. I have a lot of work to do! And don't worry -- I'm not thinking about all this so much while I'm actually riding. I'm just a list maker. :)
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