(469) 863-6737
Category > Riding Goals

Setting Your Horseback Riding Goals

Do I Need a Goal to Ride a Horse?

Young girl winning a red ribbon, second place, at a horse competition with trainers from Shenanigans Stables housed at Meadow Lane Equestrian Center.

Whether it’s your goal to be competitive or just to enjoy horseback riding as a hobby, it can be both beneficial and empowering to set goals along the way. You do not need to be an advanced rider to have these goals.

Your short-term and long-term goals will look vastly different. For example, a short-term goal may be something as simple as getting the courage to sign up for your first lesson. Your long-term goal would, of course, be riding independently. From five years old to ninety-nine, horses can be for you! This post is for anyone and everyone who has ever had dreams of riding a horse.

The First Horseback Riding Lesson

Little girl leading her horse for horse riding lesson at Meadow Lane Equestrian Center

If you are a beginner rider, or new to riding lessons, you need to first research and find a trainer with a lesson program. Your instructor will help you set small and measurable goals for each lesson such as:

  • Catching and leading a horse correctly
  • How to groom a horse
  • How to put a saddle and bridle on a horse
  • How to get on a horse
  • And finally, how to ask your horse to start walking, and stop, and to steer correctly.

Advanced Beginner Goals

As the skills get more advanced after a few lessons, you can expect your goals to change and you might start to make longer term goals: 

  • Correct riding position
  • Steering independently
  • Getting your horse ready for your lessons by yourself

Intermediate Rider Goals

Congratulations!! After your first couple of lessons, you will advance into learning correct riding at other gaits, which is the word used to describe how a horse moves.

How to Trot and Post Your Horse

The next gait you will begin to work on after the walk, is the trot. At an English riding program, as we are, you will set the goal of learning how to post the trot. Learning to post the trot can take different amounts of time for people so don’t be frustrated if it takes you a couple of weeks or longer to master. Posting the trot means that you rise out of the saddle on every other step that the horse takes. This helps for a smoother ride and correct balance. 

In the balanced riding of Saddleseat, which is what we teach, it is especially important to post the trot without relying on your hands for balance. A simple goal to set once you have learned how to post the trot may be to post with “steady hands.” I tell my little riders to pretend they are holding double scoops of ice cream that they don’t want to spill.

Beyond the Trot … Canter

After this there are many other goals to set at the trot such as knowing your diagonals, doing patterns, and posting without stirrups. Most riding programs will not advance you to the canter for several months, possibly even a year if the rider is small. Do not be frustrated by this!

Canter Goals

The strong foundation in a trot will help you have confidence and a balanced seat! Once you are cantering your goals will look something like sitting the canter, steady hands, correct leads, and then patterns involving a canter.

Becoming an Advanced Rider

Once you are an advanced rider, it is especially crucial to have goals. Do you want to be a competitive show rider or do you prefer to ride at home? In order to set goals as an advanced rider, you need to sit down and have a meeting with your trainer. Take into consideration the following: 

  • Commitment time
  • Finances
  • Scheduling 
  • Your horse  
  • Your personal desires and GRIT

Remember that a good goal is SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound! However, because your “equipment” is a living, breathing, animal, you also need to make sure you are prepared to be patient and occasionally “pivot” on the path to get there. 

So, what are you waiting for?? Set a goal, take a lesson, and get on that horse. But remember most importantly, “If it’s not FUN, what’s the point?”

Jordan Inman can be found teaching lessons for all levels of riders in multiple disciplines, and training American Saddlebred Horses at Meadow Lane Equestrian Center….Home of Shenanigan Stables; Rockwall TX.

You may also like