How To Create Goals and Stick To Them!

A Horse Riders Guide to Goal Setting 

Do you know that only five per cent of riders take the time to sit down and write out their goals? It's true. If you think your goal setting is falling a little short too, here is your chance to do something that will put you up there with the 5% ers. I'm going to show you how to create goals and stick to them, and I promise, it won't cost you a cent!

Ready to commit? Great, let's get started by asking yourself these few simple questions: 

  1. What do I want to get out of riding? 
  2.  If failure is not an option, what would I like to achieve?
  3.  What is the one thing I've always dreamed of doing with my horse?

Take time to dig into these questions. Ignore limiting thoughts, like "I don't have enough money to buy that type of horse" or "I know I'm not talented, so there is no point in dreaming". Set your rational mind aside, because right now—you don't need it! What you do need is imagination and courage.

Grab a pen and a book specifically for the process. The Tanja Mitton Mindset Journal may be a helpful tool in assisting you in defining your goals and mapping out the segments and stages.

Now write down some answers, go on, be brave and outrageous! You may be a Grade 4 rider and would like to win a gold medal or, if you are already a medal-winner, you might have your sights set on becoming a millionaire. Or maybe it's as simple as to ride well enough to take your horse to the beach and be safe. 

If you follow the steps below to begin and apply to each individual goal, you'll be on your way to making them become a reality in no time.

My most important tip - remember to have fun!

Make your goal specific

If you've written that you want to be a 'better rider' or you 'want to win whatever there is to win', that is not specific enough. State exactly what it is you want, as simply as possible. 

For example:

  • Compete at a specific level—5, 4, 3, 2, 1, pre-novice, novice, elementary, advanced—whatever it may be.
  • Make the Olympic squad.
  • Start a young horse.
  • Ride on my own with confidence

Measurable. Know what achieving your goal 'looks like' 

How will you know when you have reached your goal? Write an 'evidence statement' to clarify how you will know your goal has been achieved. (You may find this will help with clarifying Step 1. Don't be afraid to rework and amend your goal-setting as you go). 

For example:

When I get graded as 'X', I know I have achieved my goal.

When I get my competitors batch at the Olympics, I know I have achieved my goal.

When I can walk, trot and canter five rounds in the arena, I know I have achieved my goal.

When I have returned happily and safely from my first confident ride on my own, I know I have achieved my goal. 

Make it achievable

Break your goals into smaller, bite-sized chunks. If your goal is to be an A Grade showjumping rider, but you are just learning how to trot over poles on the ground, it may not be a good idea to attempt to jump a 1.50m parallel next time you have a ride! Start over cross poles first, take lessons and gradually work your way up. These steps are all segments or actions on the pathway to your goal.

Break it down

Look through your goals and determine whether they need to be broken down into bite-sized chunks.

Turn your goal into steps or 'chunks' that you KNOW you can achieve. If this is difficult for you to do, ask your coach and friends for help.

Consider others around you

Achieving your goal has to be good for you, but also for the people around you. For example, if you have a family, you need to consider them too. Otherwise, you are likely to sabotage your achievements. Realistically, if your goal is to compete with ten horses and travel the Australian showjumping circuit for ten months of the year, but you have three school-aged children, a three-month-old baby and a partner who doesn't like horses, your goal is doomed to fail. That is unless you have an exceptional support network and unlimited funds. 

So, please consider your loved ones, or set yourself a time-frame that allows for your current responsibilities and commitments before looking too far ahead.

Set realistic time-frames

Create a realistic and achievable time-frame for your goals. It's pointless trying to achieve a twelve-month goal in two weeks. This will not only be frustrating, but it will also cause you to quit. Divide your goals into 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, 5 years & 10 years.

Be empowered

It is essential to feel good about your goals. Set ones that make you feel good and boost your self-confidence. If your aim is to only get bucked off twice instead of three times per week, I suggest you change it. It may fire you up in the short-term, but it's not going to engage and empower you for the long-haul.

Review and refine

Review your goals regularly and be prepared to change them if you find something is not working for you. Sometimes we think we want to do something, only to realise later that it's not so important after all. Stay flexible. This exercise is all about evolving and growing. We don't stand still in life, and neither should our goals. 


My short video clip may help you too. You can watch it here.

Have fun achieving your goals and please let me know how I can help to make your dreams a reality!

Happy Riding, 

Tanja xx



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