Reaching your goals is like climbing a staircase...
Long term goals: Do I want to compete? What are some alternative goals besides showing? Overcoming obstacles. Short term goals: What’s my weekly, daily plan? Making the most of every training session. Teaching my horse a new skill.


Coach, equine advice columnist and judge, Lindsay Grice trains horses and riders for both English and Western events. Lindsay’s popular riding clinics take her throughout Canada and into the US. She is an Equine Canada judge and AQHA judge for Novice Shows. Lindsay is a regular guest lecturer for the University of Guelph’s equine programs.


Reaching your goals is like climbing a staircase. The ultimate destination is the next floor, but there are landings and steps along the way. Many riders, coaches and trainers don’t have a plan. Possibly because planning in itself is a bit scary - the conversations with those involved can be awkward or surface conflict. We have to determine where it is we want to end up, and what are the steps to get there.

Long Term Goals
What are the benefits of competition vs. simply riding for recreation?

Do I want to compete with my horse?
If so, in what discipline and at what level? What are the options available to me? This is where we can dare to dream!

There are benefits and drawbacks of showing at the national level, provincial or local levels. We will brainstorm these qualities as a group.

In general, at the higher level there is a tendency to push oneself to a personal best never before realized. As our eyes take in the riding talents of our competitors, and the quality of movement or athleticism of the best horse, we raise the bar for ourselves. Often there are multiple judges to maximize impartiality, and their experienced approval is a lofty goal. The venues, footing, stabling, and equipment are top quality. Show procedure and scheduling is well tuned.

Showing at the lower level offers a more casual and often friendlier environment. The schedule is more forgiving if a rider is late to get to the gate, and the shows are often a one day only affair, eliminating the need for stabling. Entry, and coaching fees are almost always more affordable.

What are my non-competitive options?
Alternative goals include buying, training and selling horses, working through a system such as Parelli or John Lyons, or achieving Equine Canada rider Levels.

Setting Goals: Daring to Dream
Your goals should stretch you. Are you hesitant to take a risk? Limited, due to self preservation?

Things to Consider When Balancing Dreams with Reality
 • finances
 • rider talent
 • “horsepower”
 • family support
 • time

What do I value most? What am I willing/able to sacrifice? How can I compromise in each of these areas to pursue my goal?

Buying the Right Horse for Your Goals:
 • talent
 • temperament
 • training
 • tolerance

When buying a horse for various types of riders, each quality will vary in importance.

Short Term Goals: Weekly and Daily Plans
In a training program that is heading toward a goal, each month and week has key skills to teach and refine.

Every ride begins with a systematic lesson plan. Skills must be taught by repetition and it’s important to expect a small improvement with each session.

Balance this by taking risks in order to refine these skills, once mastered.
 • faster
 • slower
 • more steps
 • fewer steps
 • with lighter aid

Missing the Mark: Regrouping
There are a variety of reasons why we might not reach our goals. Soundness issues, family or financial crisis, pushing too hard, failing to push hard enough, more naturally talented competition, and fear are among them.

Don’t give up. Form temporary, alternate goals for the attempted training session, next competition, or next season.



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June 6-10, 2018





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