Achieving your Riding Goals

The most important step toward any goal is the first one. You just have to do it, get started. Discipline is important. You have to really want it. So the first thing you might want to do is ask yourself why you want to ride more or spend more time with your horse. That can be an important first step, because it gets you thinking, it gets you visualizing the goal. For me, I know that I tend to like the company of my horse better than the company of most people! My rides on my horse take me out into nature, where I can unwind and relax and pretend for a little while that I don’t have such a hectic life waiting for me back there. A ride on my horse can be a way to connect with Spirit and regain my balance, my equilibrium. A ride on my horse rejuvenates my soul better than any meditation. It may be different for you, but whatever it is that makes you want to get out there and be with your horse more, you should think about that.

Then I want you to think about what will happen if you don’t do this. How will it affect you? Your horse? Your life? Your loved ones? What are you losing by not spending more time with your horse? For instance, I find that I can’t be fully available to my clients or my loved ones if I don’t get that regenerative time with my horses.

So, once you realize why this is important to you, you then have to decide that it’s okay, that it’s even crucial to your well-being that you make the time for yourself with your horse that you need. So you have to promise yourself, or better yet, promise your horse that you’ll make that time. No excuses. Put it in your appointment book; mark it on your calendar. Certain days of the week, fill in the 5 p.m. slot, or whatever time slot works best for you, with “appointment with Alf (or Vashka, or Blue, or Joe).” Even if you don’t feel like it, drag yourself to the barn, because once you get started, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll feel better about yourself, and both you and your horse will benefit from the exercise and the bonding time.

Then decide who can support you in your goal. A riding buddy is always a good thing to have. This way, you’re accountable to another person, and your friend can help motivate you. If you make an appointment with another person to go riding (or do something else at the barn with the horses), you’re less likely to make excuses when the time comes. That friend can help you get to the barn on days when you’re less motivated because you’ve made that commitment and someone else is counting on you. If you make it an appointment with either your horse or your riding buddy, you won’t want to break that appointment.

I want to add here that you should look at the time you spend with your horse as building relationship. Because you do have a relationship with your horse, like you do with any friend or family member. The more time you invest in a relationship, the closer you become. But when you start neglecting that very important “together” time, relationships begin to lose that closeness and fall apart. Consider it an investment in your relationship with your horse. Mark your calendar, and keep your appointments!

SKODE:  What is a false assumption people tend to have about reaching goals?

CINDY: Most people falsely assume that they have to do it all at once, which is unrealistic. You wouldn’t expect your horse to learn an entire dressage test in one afternoon, would you? Or learn to jump by first facing a 4- foot fence? No, we start them over ground poles. We want them to have small successes to build upon so that they want to keep going in their training, so that they can enjoy what they are learning and not become frustrated and sour. And yet we over-face ourselves all the time and then wonder why we can’t make it work. Why do we expect so much from ourselves? Just as I do when training horses, I advocate “baby steps” for people trying to reach a goal – little, tiny steps toward a larger goal. If you want to spend more time with your horse, don’t think that you have to immediately add several hours to your weekly routine. Take small steps. Spend an extra hour twice a week, at first, or even once a week. Something you know without a doubt that you can do -- something at which you can’t fail. Even if it’s only 10 more minutes a day added to the time you already spend, it’s something. Build on that slowly. It only makes sense, especially if you are riding, since your horse will need to physically adjust to the increasing work as well.

Even after all this talk of baby steps, I know you will still want to try to get more time with your horse right away than you really have to spare, so I’d like to suggest that you to cut the first amount of time that comes to mind in half. What that leaves you is probably a more realistic goal to start with!

Sometimes, we also have to critically examine our schedules and figure out what we need to clear away from our life that is no longer serving us, a place where we can open up space for what we do want to manifest. Where are we wasting time? What could we do differently to open up some time for our horsey habit? For instance, could we get up in the morning just a half-hour earlier? Just a few minutes, a half hour here or there will eventually add up to a lot of time. Clear out the clutter in your life, to make room for the things that call to your soul.

SKODE: What is a steadfast truth for those who do reach their goals?

CINDY:  I think the one thing most people come to realize after going through the process is that there are stages of change, and understanding what stage you are in and what to do in that particular stage can help you move forward more easily. You will be rewarded in so many wonderful ways once you finally make that commitment to yourself and your horse! Not only will you create a closer relationship, a deeper understanding with your horse, but it is true that success breeds success. If you are successful with a series of small action plans, it gives you the confidence to tackle the bigger goals. You move toward your big goal by breaking it down into manageable bits, and once you are successful in achieving one goal, you realize that this method can work with all of your goals, whether they are horse-oriented or not. By reaching your goals, you become a more successful person, which results in increased self-esteem, a new self-image, a healthier lifestyle, and a happier, more satisfying life. What could be better?

Article: Cindy McGinley