My high school English teacher, Mr. Cantello, used to preface each long-term assignment by saying, “Remember the 5P’s: Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.
Now, 11 years later, I have come to know that Mr. Cantello’s, “5P’s” apply to more than writing English papers. As this year came to a close, I scheduled my regular December meeting with my trainer, Johanna, to discuss goals for next year. We had a lot to consider with Cassandra’s training program, what we wanted her to accomplish in 2022, and what I wanted to accomplish myself. During our discussion, I realized that all of these wants and goals would require a lot more than a single conversation to organize and plan.
As you would imagine an MBA student doing, I went home and began to draft a 2022 Training Goals Spreadsheet. The first tab included our goals for 2022. There were a lot of things we wanted to accomplish but not everything was a ‘goal’. Some of the things Johanna and I discussed were building blocks that will be used to achieve certain goals. To make better sense of this, I decided to commit to three goals that were specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – otherwise known as “SMART” goals.
From here, I asked myself what would need to happen for us to achieve these goals, and the answers became ‘activities’ that I categorized as either horse or rider-focused. I also began to see a trend in that some activities had to do with improving our physical fitness while others were more focused on our mental ability, so I broke them down accordingly. Finally, I included a section for ‘homework’ to help us connect our training to what course designers were asking in the show ring.
To help my fellow visual learners, I’ve included a template that currently shows one of my 2022 goals.
Your Goal: Be Specific and Timely
It’s important to name your goal something very specific you that can actually measure to determine improvement. Then, think ahead to determine a realistic deadline for when you plan to achieve it. I recommend working with your trainer on this since you must consider both yourself and your horse.
Johanna and I also established two check-in dates that will remind us when we should revisit the conversation and measure our overall progress.
In this example, setting September as our “accomplishment date” made sense since all of the larger jumper shows (that we are attending) will have concluded by then. The first, April check-in aligns with Johanna’s return from Ocala, Florida (which Cassie and I will not be attending), and July made a lot of sense for our second check-in because it falls in the middle of our active show season.
The ‘How To’ for Achieving Your Goal
As mentioned earlier, the training ‘activities’ required to achieve the goal are separate for horse and rider. This is another place where your trainer’s input will be important, as they will be able to pinpoint specific areas you can work on that will help you achieve your goal.
Riding demands a lot from us, both physically and mentally, and to be competitive we need to work on ourselves both in and out of the saddle. By identifying specific training activities for your horse, you can plan your schooling rides to be productive training sessions even if your trainer isn’t in the ring.
Measure Your Progress
You’ve likely noticed the green, yellow, and red circles on the right-hand side of the goal sheet. These can be used to help you measure your progress during check-in times. Green signifies ‘near-achievement’ (i.e., things are going really well!), yellow means that you are making progress, and red means you still need to get started. I want to emphasize that none of these are bad, they are just tools to help you achieve your goals!