“You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true?” “Happy Talk” from South Pacific
Do you know why you want horses in your life? What do you love about these amazing creatures? Do you want to compete locally or maybe even nationally, internationally? Or do you really love quiet rides through the countryside perhaps accompanied by friends on their horses?
It really doesn’t matter why you want a horse in your life. It means different things to different people. However, having a clear picture of what you want, what makes you happy, will get you a long way towards achieving your dream.
In sport psychology we talk a lot about setting goals. Not just for competition. Goals are like a roadmap to wherever you want to go. Start with your dream.
Write your dream down on paper. Then break the dream down into “action steps”. What do you need to do, have, accomplish in order to make your dream happen? Write all of this down too!
Most people tell themselves they can’t have their dream almost as fast as they think it up. Don’t do that.
- Start with a clear picture of what you ideally would like. What would really be cool? What would really give you joy? Then, and only then, you can begin to identify any obstacles. List them.
Review goals regularly. I like to write down my annual goals at the beginning of the year. I usually review these monthly or at least quarterly. Often I think of new strategies to add to my “action steps”. I revise my target dates if necessary.
- Next, brainstorm possible solutions to these obstacles. This may take awhile, might be even days or weeks, but you may be surprised at what you can come up with if you give a little time.
Set target dates for accomplishing your goals and the actions steps required to get there. For example, “find a really good trainer to work with”. Perhaps set a target date by the end of the month. This can work well to keep you on task. If for some reason it doesn’t happen in one month, change your target date to the next month. It’s your goal, if you need to, you can modify any part of it you need to. But it’s important to have a timeline to give you a little push.
- Make a “Goal Board”. Cut out pictures representing your goals and paste them on a large piece of foam board or poster board. Put this where you can see it every day. Make smaller ones to have around you. Paste pictures in your notebooks, date book, etc. so you can “see” you goal everyday.
The mind accepts pictures even better than words! My first goal board was a “5 year plan”. At some point I stuck it under my bed. Three years later I found it. I was almost shocked to see that in three years time I already accomplished every goal on my board! It was even kind of scary. I now use my goal boards in some form always.
Later, I will write about other kinds of goals like “Performance Goals” on competition and “Process Goals” to use in structuring your learning/training on you horse.
So don’t be afraid to dream, Write them down and create a visualization board to review goals. Break dreams and goals down into smaller action steps and see what you can accomplish. Now get out there and ride!
Timmie Pollock, Ph. D , CMPC
Dr. Pollock is a Clinical and Sport Psychologist based in La Jolla, California. She has worked exclusively with equestrian athletes from all disciplines of riding for over 20 years. In her practice she uses a variety of techniques including biofeedback, hypnosis, EMDR and TFT in addition to the basics of mental skills training.
Dr. Pollock is a lifelong horse owner, breeder, and rider and has competed for over twenty-five years, primarily in dressage. She has also competed in Hunter/Jumper and Eventing divisions as well.
Dr. Pollock has been active in multiple equestrian organizations for many years, acting as the chapter chairperson of the San Diego chapter of the California Dressage Association for several terms.
She is a regular speaker for some of these organizations and groups, presents workshops and clinics across the United States, and has written multiple articles and book chapters for a variety of equestrian and sport psychology publications. Dr. Pollock is a Certified Consultant for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, an international sport psychology organization.
Specialties: Performance enhancement training for equestrian athletes from all disciplines of riding. Overcoming fear in riding. Sport Psychology training for trainers and coaches including application of sport mental skills in teaching in and training, and communication skills. You can find her on her website at: EquExcellence.com