Goal setting can make horseback riding more fun and rewarding.
That was the message of Linda Allen, renowned clinician for riding, judging and course designs from Dallas, Texas, in one of her presentations during the EquiFest of Kansas at Wichita.
“Goals give a purpose to every ride,” Allen said. “It keeps daily ups and downs in
Likewise, personal horseback riding goals assist in training direction and give more meaning to show ring competition. “This helps a rider envision where they want to go, and most importantly, makes riding more fun,” Allen emphasized.
While proficient riding skills are an ultimate goal of most horseback riders, Allen pointed out, “You can do lots of things wrong and still have fun.”
However, it is important to know “where you want to end up,” she commented. Goals can be simple or very complex, and can change for lots of reasons. While one may start out riding just for enjoyment, it can soon become a challenge in show competition.
“Everybody has to assess their own unique situation, but it is essential to pay your dues,” Allen related. While a winning horse might be easily purchased, it will not
perform to its championship potential without the rider having sufficient ability to ride it.
“If you get on a horse, you are training it for better or worse,” Allen recognized. “No horse remains static, and it certainly can go backwards in the wrong hands.”
Everybody has different objectives in their horse endeavors. “Your goals are just that, your goals, and one else’s,” Allen clarified.
Some of the most talented riders don’t have the drive to do it, while those with less natural skills can work hard toward an objective and still succeed. “If you want to, you can,” Allen challenged.
Aspirations must be serious. “Forget achieving big things unless you choose to make riding your priority,” Allen explained. “You must devote the necessary time, work all of the time, yet realize your own athletic limitations and behave accordingly.”
Basic principles are essential at whatever level one is riding. “We must take our strength and fitness seriously, and then have the discipline to work towards perfection,” Allen confirmed.
Advice of others must be taken to heed. “It is a constant learning curve,” she advised. “So acknowledge and appreciate those that support and help you, including family,
Perfection is often not attained. “Don’t whine and blame somebody else. Go back to work and improve yourself,” Allen directed.
Certain standards apply in every horse discipline. “Always put the horse’s welfare first,” Allen exclaimed. “Learn a lot about horses in general and then worry about your own horse in particular. It’s important to play a role in every facet of the horse’s
care.” Regardless of the goal, a rider must make progress, which requires acknowledging what needs to be changed, and then be willing to change. “Everybody starts at the bottom and must work their way up,” Allen indicated.
Safety is essential in every level of working with a horse. “Horseback riding is not a dangerous sport,” Allen professed. “It can be relatively safe, if everybody is aware of safety and enforces it.”
Horses, trainers and coaches must fit the level of the rider. “A nationally acclaimed horse or coach are neither one right for a beginner,” Allen restated. “Better riders will need better horses, better trainers and better coaches.”
Despite opinions to the contrary, Allen stressed, “One person can not do all things. Training, showing, coaching, breeding all require time, and those who try to do
everything, often aren’t the best at any of them.”
The horse can make the ultimate difference in accomplishing any goal. “Riders won’t accomplish their objective if they can’t get along with their horse,” Allen noted. “A look must be taken of the whole picture: riding level, personality, environment,
trainer, coach, all parts of the equation.”
A horse is the first requirement. Allen suggested finding a stable and riding horses there before considering a purchase “Be realistic about your current ability,” she cautioned. “Inexperienced riders always learn best from experienced horses. They are the very best instructors of all.
“Keep in mind that ‘green’ plus ‘green’ seldom equals ‘fun.’ Older horses that may have some aches and pains but can still get around are the best,” Allen continued. “I always urge beginning riders to buy an experienced horse that is safe.”
Short term and long term goals are important. “There are always going to be bumps in the road, but most of them can become a learning experience,” Allen evaluated.
“Horseback riding is a fabulous sport. It is a sport for a lifetime, all because of the amazing animal, the horse. Isn’t that the reason we’re all here? Good luck. Good
riding,” Allen concluded.