By Gillian Warner, National Youth Board member
It’s hard to believe the New Year is here already! It brings excitement, goals, and a fresh start.
As I look towards my goals for this new year, it feels easy to get overwhelmed with so many things I’d like to do—training, traveling, and competition—it can feel unobtainable. For me, to work towards achieving those goals, I need to break the goals down and create plans.
Decide on the Goal
First thing first: What would you like to achieve?
For me, I’m bringing along a coming four-year-old. I’d love to get her to her first show by the end of the summer. How do I plan to get there?
Develop a Plan
Over this winter, we’re working on confidence, focusing a lot on groundwork, and building trust. I’ll take her on small rides here and there to develop that confidence and softness under saddle. Riding wise, I’m keeping it mostly walk/trot, but have cantered a few times.
By the spring, when the weather starts warming and we can more safely travel (most likely April), I’d like to build on this confidence on the ground and under saddle by taking her on a field trip to a friend’s farm nearby, so she can experience a different setting and atmosphere as we continue our work. This first trip will introduce her to new items, explore her curiosity, and run through some groundwork to help her focus and attention shift to me in a new setting.
Early summer (June) I’ll be looking to participate in some off-property clinics, again getting a feel for a different setting while also adding a bit of noise and atmosphere with other horses, trailers, etc … and it will start feeling more like a show! At this point in her training, I’d love to see the confidence under saddle we’d been developing starting to show as we work through a flat school, and maybe pop over a few small obstacles.
By the end of summer, my attention will be focused on a local schooling show that will be able to offer us flat and over fences classes. Our competition classes will depend on how she develops over the next few months.
Adjust the Plan
Part of New Year planning is to remain open-minded and flexible with your plans; as you chip away at your tangible plan, you may realize some adjustments are necessary. But setting off into the new year with an idea of what you’d like to work towards, and how you’ll work towards it, will help develop a productive year!
Perhaps you want to learn certain riding skills, achieve a Pony Club certification, attend your first rally, or compete at USPC Championships. Whatever your options are, first decide on the goal, develop a plan, and adjust the plan along the way. New Year riding goals are always an exciting way to kick off the year, and they will give you something to work toward. We wish you success on your journey, and never forget all the amazing Pony Club members and volunteers who can help you as you work toward your goals. And once you reach your goal, don’t forget to reflect on what went right and what you could improve upon—and most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate the achievement.