Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Positive Mental Attitude and Setting Goals

I went to a lecture/demo last week at the riding school where I have been having lessons recently.  It was really about developing a POSTITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE to riding and I thought it would be interesting.  It definitely made me think and introduced a few new points, I thought that I would include some of the evening's advice with a GOAL SETTING blog!

We started off by talking about setting goals and what was holding us back!

  • Are you where you want to be (talking about riding)? - if you are that is FINE 
  • What is your greatest riding achievement? 
  • What was your worst riding moment? 
  • What is your greatest fear when riding?

Obviously, for a lot of people (including me) their greatest fear is the fear of falling off, but if you think about it how many times have you fallen off and been fine?  Compare that to how many times you have fallen off and hurt yourself badly.  I have no idea how many times I have fallen off, too many to count, I actually have only really hurt myself twice....

So, is falling off as bad as we think, actually it isn't, this is something I need to keep telling myself!  So my greatest fear and my worst riding moment are both about falling off!  

If you then think about your greatest achievement.  It could be that you were really proud the day you first cantered, or first jumped a cross pole.  It could be the first time you jumped a clear round, or did a dressage test, or galloped along a beach, it will be different for everybody!

So once you have looked at these elements think about what you would like to achieve next.  What is your next goal or goals?  When you are setting your goal it is supposed to be SMART, that is

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Attainable 
  • Realistic 
  • Timely

For me goals stop me just pottering about on Basil, which is easy to do.  I have found (or rediscovered)  in the last 12 months that if I set myself a big goal and then break it down into smaller goals then we make progress.  So I may have a bigger goal and then a smaller goal to work on each week.  For me my bigger goals tend to be a bit more vague eg: improve Basil's schooling.  However, then I think about it more and this will break down into steps.  So my steps within this have been:-

  1. Achieve calmness 
  2. Achieve  bend around my leg and calmness 
  3. Achieve suppleness and calmness 
  4. Work in a contact and remain calm

As you can see the calmness is a consistent goal but each step is moving forwards.  These goals are relatively specific and measurable, I know they are realistic but the timing is a bit variable as Basil is an unknown element!  Each week I am then thinking about my schooling session and what we will do to help this eg: circles, leg yield, serpentines, all of this Basil hadn't done for 5 years so he was re-learning.  We are also working towards jumping again - with calmness!

 Basil and I maintaining calm on the way to trotting over a pole! 

There are 3 other elements that are important to your progress and so you should consider when setting your goals.

  • Horse 
  • Instructor 
  • Knowledge

The Horse:- Finding and riding the right horse for you is important.  Obviously at a riding school they will match you to a suitable horse for your ability and confidence.  The horse's perception of you before you ride is also important.  How you act when you are moving around in the stable, when you are tacking up and before you mount.  Are you quietly confident or are you loud or jumpy?  Do you take control quietly or by being rough? These will all affect the horse's perception of you and that will carry through to when you are riding.

The Instructor:- Finding the right instructor for you is also important for your progression.  You have to find an instructor who's style of teaching suits you but also who understands your issues and can help.  If it is not working with one instructor then find another, they understand that their teaching styles won't suit everyone.  Some people get on better with instructors who push them, others are more happy with sympathetic and chatty styles!  We are all different.  For me finding a new instructor has made a huge difference.  Although I am not having lessons on Basil, everything we are achieving is a direct consequence of my lessons.

Your Knowledge:- Is your progression achievable with your current knowledge, this affects how achievable your goal is.  Do you know what to do and do you then do it?  For example; if your goal is to canter, do you know what to do to ask your horse to canter?  If you do then do you consistently ask in the correct way, or sometimes do you forget the half halt?  Be honest with yourself about your knowledge, you can't know everything, there is always something new to learn and people to learn from.

So before you set your riding goal analyse your riding and yourself...

  • Where are you as a rider? 
  • Who is the person telling you that you can't do it? (for me it is usually me saying I can't) 
  • What are your limiting factors: fear of falling, fear of being out of control, fear of riding in front of others?

Then be positive .....

  • Set a realistic goal, talk to your instructor so they can help you achieve it 
  • If necessary break it down into smaller goals 
  • Give yourself a time limit which will focus you 
  • Believe in yourself YOU CAN 
  • GO FOR IT 

Do you set goals for your riding? 

Have you seen my 'How to ....' vlog Quick Tack Cleaning from last week ? 
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Until next time!

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