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The Value of Goals
( Copyright 1994 Jill K. Hassler)

By Jill K. Hassler

Goals give a purpose and direction to your journey through life and with your horses.  Many people travel without knowing where they are going.  But setting goals is not a mysterious process, it simply requires a little work and forethought.  Practice setting goals for your riding, and the habit will carry over into the rest of your life.

Setting goals is the first step of turning dreams into reality.  The process involves examining your motivation, understanding the physical, mental and spiritual stage of your life, and then recognizing and accepting the limitations of time, money and energy.  Balancing all these considerations will allow you to choose the dream you wish to pursue.  Intermediate and short-term goals are the stops on the way to our destination, your long-term goal.

Motivation + Stages + Outside Influences = Choosing Goals
Love of horses
Exercise
Challenge
Profession
Recreation
Social activity
Mental well-being
child
pre-teen
teenager
young adult
early adult
middle age
late middle age
money
time
energy

Goals will have value when they become a natural part of your daily life.  Goals are not set in stone, and they do not provide limits, they provide guidelines.

Goals give direction to life.  Striving for the goal is more important than meeting it.  Each time we attain a goal, we must set a new one.  It is this process that improves the quality of our lives.  To make the best use of goal setting, we should practice this approach in all areas of life: physical well being, relationships, career, social involvement, finances, spiritual development, and problem solving.  Although I am focusing on your horse interest, please remember that the same system applies to all areas of life.  Your self-confidence, awareness, communication, energy and responsibility can all be developed or enhanced by your use of goal setting.

Developing self-confidence is one of the challenges we all face in life. Confidence comes from knowing that we can do what we want to do.   It results from experience, the experience of meeting goals successfully.  We must have some way to evaluate an experience, some way to know whether it was good or bad.   This is where goal-setting comes in.  The goals contain standards for the evaluation.

The following is from an article on the front page of the December 24, 1992, Missoulian, by Craig McNeil, who writes a column for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.

"Setting goals in skiing, such as committing yourself to the number of times you will ski this season, is important because it gives you something to focus on.  Most people do not set goals because they are afraid of what will happen if they fail to meet the goals."

Having a goal is simply a matter of saying to yourself, "This is what I want to accomplish."  Deciding what you want is the first step on the path to success in skiing.  To support the process of setting goals, it is important to set an intention each time you ski.  Having an intention empowers you to be the kind of skier you want to be.

"It could be as simple as saying, 'I want to   have fun and relax,' or 'I want to be a great skier.'  The more specific your intention, the more focused you will be in the process.  The key to the idea of goal-setting is to have something firmly in mind, something to work toward..."

Pursuing goals has many positive effects.  At the very least, your experience with horses should provide you with many happy memories.   Many college students will admit that their years with horses helped them to be responsible, self-directed students.  Parents will agree that their horse time helped them deal more effectively with their children.  Many people feel that their horse goals help them perform better at their job.  Relationships are complex and often filled with difficulty, often people believe that their horse relationships helped them understand people.  What do goals have to do with all of this?  Setting realistic goals, working toward them and finally achieving them are wonderful confidence building learning experiences.  We feel good when we meet our goals.

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MOTIVATION: WHY DO YOU RIDE?
One of the First Steps of Goal Setting

( Copyright 1994 Jill K. Hassler)

By Jill K. Hassler

Take the time NOW to answer the question, "Why do I ride?"  As you evaluate your answer you may make some discoveries.  You may learn that you were correct in your original assumptions, that you were confused, or that you have discovered new motivations.  Any discovery has its good consequences.   If you were correct, you gain confidence in your self-understanding.  If you were confused, you have already begun to eliminate the confusion.  Or if you discover a new motivation or purpose, you can redefine your goal before you have wasted much time.

Each of you is involved with horses for a reason.   Horses themselves, or the physical activities associated with horses, fulfill some role in your life.  Why is it important to understand and acknowledge the reason?   Understanding your motivation allows you to balance your involvement, to survive the lows and enjoy the highs of your journey with horses.  Spending a few minutes defining your incentives may save you time, money, energy and frustration.  It may also enhance your energy, heighten the experience, and help you to feel the beauty of every moment of life -- something few of us have mastered.

The second question to ask yourself, "How important are horses in my life?"  Why am I involved with horses, rather than with other activities?  For you to determine how important horses are to you, you must understand why you are involved with them.  Throughout your life, you will find that various aspects of your involvement will change due to your life style, yourself, or your feelings about horses.  Horses must be woven into YOUR OTHER NEEDS throughout your life.  You must strive continually for balance between your family, community, financial, social and educational needs, and your individual need for horses.

There are seven basic factors that draw people into a horse oriented life:  1. love of horses, 2. exercise, 3. challenge, 4. profession, 5. recreation, 6. companionship and social interaction and 7. mental well being.  All are equally significant, and you may be involved for a combination of reasons.

Motivation + Stages + Outside Influences = Choosing Goals
Love of horses
Exercise
Challenge
Profession
Recreation
Social activity
Mental well-being
child
pre-teen
teenager
young adult
early adult
middle age
late middle age
money
time
energy


LOVE OF HORSES

This is the most complex of the reasons for your horse involvement.  Many of us like horses, few love them.  There is no value judgment implied with liking or loving, it is just a reflection on how involved you are.   Without a doubt, people would not be involved with horses if they did not like them.  But for those who feel that they MUST be around a horse, who feel a certain warmth and connection to the horse, who feel that they have "horses in the blood," there is a deep, indescribable love for the horse.  This attraction often works unconsciously to involve people with horses.  I think that a person who likes horses often learns to love them.  However, for some, horses meet a deep need.   For people with this need, horses offer the unconditional love that all humans seek.
   When you are around horses, do you feel fulfilled, warm, comfortable and energized?
   How much do you miss horses when you are away?

EXERCISE

Some people choose riding to get some form of exercise.   Exercise is not just a means to get out of a chair and be active.  It is a combination of movement that leads to increased strength, improved coordination, greater muscle tone, more suppleness and relaxation.  The combination of fresh air, sunshine and exercise is one of the most pleasant aspects of involvement with horses.  Riding is not usually a form of aerobic exercise, because it usually does not significantly elevate the heart rate for fifteen minutes.  Nor does riding tone all of the body's muscles.  However, after riding, you feel calmer, relaxed, refreshed or fulfilled.
   How much time a week do you spend on exercise?
   How important is the exercise to you?
   How completely does your horse activity meet your exercise needs?

CHALLENGE

A fast gallop, racing the barrels against the clock, a bucking bronco, a race over hurdles, or the fine tuning of dressage, hunter or jumper performance all fit into the category of challenge.  A successful short, fast, confrontational situation gives you an inner thrill of achievement that energizes your entire life.
  How important is challenge in your life?
  How much challenging time do you need a week?

PROFESSIONAL

I hope that no one becomes a professional horseperson without loving the animal, the physical activity, and being out of doors.  If a person does love all of these factors and can accept not becoming financially wealthy, then that person is blessed in his profession.  I often say to a student who is having a good lesson that I feel lucky to be paid to enjoy myself so much!  I am thankful that I have been able to survive financially, because I cannot envision myself so happily involved in any other profession.  I enjoy it so much that it does not feel like work.
   Do you feel lucky to have your profession?
   Do you look forward to getting up each day to start work?

RECREATION

The recreational horseperson uses horses to satisfy his need to have fun.  Much of the time per week allowed for entertainment is devoted to horses.
   When you are finished with your time with horses, do you feel refreshed and ready to attack your real life?
   Are horses a form of recreation to you?
   How much time a week do you spend this way?

COMPANIONSHIP AND SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Many activities in the horse world bring you into contact with other like-minded people.  Horse shows, rodeos, foxhunts, competitive trail rides are a few examples.  Even boarding your horse at a stable instead of keeping it at home provides social interaction.  All of us need a sense of community involvement.  Perhaps it is the people in the horse community that you enjoy spending time with.
    When you have completed your time with horses, do you feel closer to the activity or to the persons involved in the activity?
    Do you feel that a sense of sharing with people of similar interests is sufficient reward for the time you have spent?
    How important are the people in the activity to you?

MENTAL WELL-BEING

This area is related to all the others.   Students told me so frequently that they were riding for their mental health that I began to explore this area.  Besides one-on-one contact with a warm creature, the horse, the rider often also has one-on-one contact with an instructor.  The bond between a trusted instructor, horse and rider can provide wonderfully fulfilling mental therapy.  Understanding, communication and response from another living creature is a vital part of life, and horses and instructors can both fulfill this need.
    Do you feel that you get a direct sense of understanding or food for thought from your riding sessions?
    Do you feel less confused and more cleared out in your "real" life after riding?


Reviewing the answers to the above questions will help you understand your motivation.  Your answers should be based on what is true for you most of the time, not based on a single day's experience.  The motives should be ranked as they actually meet your needs, not as you want or expect them to meet your needs.  If you are confused, answer the questions again, and keep it weekly or daily for three to six months.  After this time you will know a lot more about yourself.

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THE STAGES OF LIFE
The challenge of setting goals is made easier by understanding the natural mental aspects of your age.
( Copyright 1994 Jill K. Hassler)

By Jill K. Hassler

 

Physical & Mental Balance

Balance is an important idea, and all horsepersons have been exposed to the concept in one form or another.  The two most popular concepts are the balance of the horse itself, and the balance of the rider on the horse.  I believe that we must consider other concepts of balance.  One of these is the balance of our riding goals and our "real" life priorities.  These priorities are influenced by the changes that transpire during the various stages of life.   You must evaluate and adjust your horse involvement to suit your changing physical, psychological and spiritual needs.

Now that you have a better understanding of your motivation for being involved with horses, you must relate your motivation to your stage in life.  This may sound like an oversimplification or an unnecessary task, but for the horse lover, it is some of the most important balances to strive for.  To choose an appropriate horse goal, you will need to understand the characteristics of each stage of life.  To help you appreciate the significance of this relationship, I have included many examples of how various horse goals either do or do not "work" for a particular stage of life.  Please use this section to learn about the stages of life you are in now, rather than to evaluate your goals as you now perceive them.

Motivation + Stages + Outside Influences = Choosing Goals
Love of horses
Exercise
Challenge
Profession
Recreation
Social activity
Mental well-being
child
pre-teen
teenager
young adult
early adult
middle age
late middle age
money
time
energy


STAGES OF LIFE

Child (6-10)
Pre-teen (10-13)
Teenager (14-17)
Young Adult (18-21)
Early Adult (22-42)
Middle Age (43-65)
Late Middle Age (Over 65)

CHILD (6-10)
At the child stage of life, play, experimentation, fantasy and exploration are most important.  Many children ride and some are very competitive, others are not.   Most parents are very competitive.  The success they dream of for their children is a barometer of their success as parents.  Children have no need to set goals, they just want to have fun! Even the competitive child must learn without too much formal training, or the natural requisite of fun will be destroyed.

Like Johann Pestalozzi, the Swiss educator, I do not believe in serious and formal instruction for children. Pestalozzi refused to let children learn by memory only. He felt they should learn through their total experience, so they would clearly understand and feel what they were learning.  A child learning to ride must also learn through observation and experience; the total experience is then absorbed into the child.  Children will learn this way naturally if we offer the correct guidance and freedom.  It is essential for a child's instructor to understand the character requirements for this stage of development, and to have a gift of teaching with fun in mind. Group lessons employ several valuable learning tools for children: games, observation and playful interaction.  One instructor even lets her advanced teenage riders have fun by offering occasional fun days filled with games.  What a wonderful balance is maintained for these young people who can still have fun playing games with their horses!  More often, I see parents selecting the serious-minded professional whose demands and expectations would be more suitable for adult students.   These instructors are creating an imbalance with nature.  Children need to have fun.  The role of the adult in a child's life is to encourage the child in spontaneous activities, self-evaluation and experimental learning.  Any effective method for developing the mental and physical aspects of horsemanship in a child must incorporate freedom and fun.

PRE-TEEN (Ages 10-13)
During the pre-teen stage, a child begins to develop some finer foundation skills of life.  The important mental character traits for this stage are consistency, realistic expectations, responsibility and discipline.  This is the time for serious instruction, practice and horse care.  Earlier, the child learned the correct balance and seat; now the pre-teen learns to use this seat for more advanced control.  Since children look to their parents for authority during this stage, parents must set the rules and regulations that will create a good foundation for physical and mental development.   Parents should nurture the inner qualities of discipline and responsibility, which are very easy to bring out in a horse-loving pre-teen.  Practice and correct horse care must be CONSISTENTLY ENFORCED.  It is the most important time for external stimuli to influence the development of good character in a young person's life.

During the pre-teen years, children need parental DISCIPLINE, CONSISTENCY and RESPONSIBILITY.  Their minds must be challenged to learn.  If rules are not initiated and enforced, the children experience a loss of balance that is likely to result in negative teenage behavior.  The pre-teen years are easy years for parents and young people.  But if the child does not receive the correct basic foundation during this time, both the parents and the young person may suffer the consequences in the future stages of life.

TEENAGER (Ages 14-17)
The teenage years are usually the most difficult years for both teenager and parents.   A young person between fourteen and seventeen naturally challenges authority and places major emphasis on peer pressure and social acceptance.  This is when he must begin to break his ties with his family and become independent.  Meeting challenges successfully helps prepare him to be a successful adult.  Peer approval and social interaction replace the role of parents, another step toward the break from the family ..... How do you direct the energy of a rebellious teenager?  This is the six-million dollar question.  It is easier if the young person has had a fun-filled childhood and has absorbed the basics for discipline, consistency and responsibility during the pre-teen years.  Let me make it clear that it is not only riding that can prepare a child for the future, the same effect can be achieved if the child pursues an interest in music or other forms of art or sports.  But the point to remember is this: the process is smoother for the child with a special interest than for a child without one.

Too often I hear parents tell their horsey pre-teen that she will get a horse when she is thirteen if her grades are good.   Before you say "wait," please reconsider.  If you wait until your child becomes a teenager to start riding, it will be a rocky road.  Nevertheless, it is better to start riding during the teen years than never to start at all.

Challenging authority is the most difficult aspect of dealing with the teenage years.  Involvement with horses can help even a very rebellious horseloving teenager stay out of trouble.

Nature dictates that a teenager strive to become independent.  This paves the way for the future adult stages, and to this end a teenager will fight authority and all that it stands for while he seeks the approval of his peers.  It takes a strong teenager to rise above the temptations of negative peer pressure.  It is tremendously helpful if the teenager can be strong in his horse skills by the time he reaches this stage.  If that is not possible, it is essential that parents either provide private support or find a stable where the teenagers are all riding at the same level. Most teenagers require positive and equal peer interaction; it is a normal aspect of that stage of their lives, and a natural part of their personal growth.

YOUNG ADULT (Ages 18-21)
From the teenage stage we move into the young adult years.  Personal and professional uncertainties accentuate the pressures of society's expectations, resulting in insecurity.  The young adult has moved away from his family, but has not yet established himself in his life pursuit.  He is usually in college or beginning professional job training.   This age group is plagued by uncertainty, sometimes accompanied by fear of committing to a profession.

Teenagers whose horse interests were unfulfilled often choose a college with horses. They pursue horses seriously instead of looking for a more suitable profession.  Others flounder by stopping their education and working with horses only.  Both of these decisions can interfere with personal balance.  Often the young adult is unconsciously trying to meet his inner need to express a love of horses.  Many of them love horses but should have an enjoyable and fulfilling horse hobby, not a horse-related profession.  Their unfulfilled yearning causes them to place horses in the wrong role.  Because professional direction is the focus of this stage of their life, it is easy for them to think that their interest in horses should be professional.

I feel that the emphasis placed by our educational system on increasing enrollment has helped create illusions for the horsey young person, who is led to believe that by attending a horsey college he will emerge in four years with his horse skills and his academic skills at a professional level.  It is difficult for an educational institution to provide a thorough education in horses and in the academic skills required to become a successful professional of any type.  Many programs cater to the young person who has always loved horses but remains a beginner.  Although these programs imply otherwise, it is impossible for someone to become a professional horseperson in only four years.  It is my opinion that the academically oriented horse lover should have a well-rounded education that will enhance a non-horsey profession if it is ever needed.  Parents should guide their teenager toward balancing his horse interests and his academic needs.   Enrollment officials of colleges have one thing in mind, increase enrollment.   It is up to the parents to help select the right combination of courses and academic competitiveness that their son or daughter actually needs in a college.

EARLY ADULT (Ages 22-42)
Joseph Stone and Joseph Church, in Childhood and Adolescence, offer a summary of the skills a young person needs to begin his adult life.

"The adult with a capacity for true maturity is one who has grown out of childhood without losing childhood's best traits.  He has retained the basic emotional strengths of infancy, the stubborn autonomy of toddlerhood, the capacity of wonder and pleasure and playfulness of the preschool years, the capacity for affiliation and the intellectual curiosity of the school years, the idealism and passion of adolescence.  He has incorporated these into a new pattern of development dominated by adult stability, wisdom, knowledge, sensitivity to other people, responsibility, strength and purposiveness."

I have attached the ages of twenty-two to forty-two to this stage of life.  During these years you develop your career, nurture a partnership and raise a family.  How can there be time for horses?   Free time is often a serious issue in people's lives during this stage.  How can you give up horses now, if you have been involved with them your entire life?  If horses are "in your blood," you must acknowledge it.  You will need some form of association with them, although not to the same degree as in the prior stages.

Balancing the nurturing needs of partnership, family and career leaves little time for personal needs during the early adult years of life.

The early adult stage is one of the longest stages in life, and carries the most responsibility.  If you are balanced and have been prepared with the appropriate tools, this stage can be a journey filled with rewarding challenges.  The first twenty-two years of life should have provided you with the skills for success, yet the adult years are often filled with frustration and dissatisfaction.  If you missed the ingredients for success during earlier stages, you may experience the void in this stage.  If all has come together satisfactorily, you are able to balance partner, children, self, career, social and recreational needs.  All are real parts of this stage of life.  During this period, I think that horses fit into the recreational category for most people, unless they are professional horsepersons or have no other demanding obligations.

MIDDLE AGE (Ages 42-65)
Many people are afraid to turn forty, but when I talk to those over forty, most of them admit that it is a great time in life.  For some, it really is when life begins!   The greatest challenge during this stage is to accept the aging process with dignity; those who achieve this seldom show their age.  It is during this stage you can pursue your interest in horses in any way you wish.  If you have traveled the traditional road of life, you will have raised your children, developed a successful profession and have a partner, profession, and preferred activities on your list of responsibilities.  Most people begin to reflect when they turn forty, so they generally "know themselves" better than during the previous stages of development.  If you allow yourself to participate in life's activities, there is freedom at this stage of life.  Your only limitation is your body.  As you grow older, it takes more careful attention to exercise and diet to maintain health.   Coordination may require more patience as you advance in age.  However, a greater range of learning techniques can more than make up for physical shortcomings.   Evaluation can be more realistic when it is based on self-knowledge and experience, giving you more tools to use for successful horsemanship.

LATE MIDDLE AGE (Ages 65 and older)
After age sixty-five, you can enjoy the wisdom, honesty, awareness, and acceptance gained through the previous years of life.  You are not old, you are wise.  I hope the balance of your being has progressed equally so that you are healthy.  The major challenges of this stage are maintaining the body and accepting the idea of death.   Those who are lucky have already accepted the idea of death as a natural part of the cycle of life, so it no longer causes fear or concern.  However, many people hide from the idea of death until they begin to get closer to the end of their lives.   This can work in two ways,.  On the one hand, it can create the need to fill their lives full of whatever they may want to do.  On the other hand, it can also create in them a desire to sit and observe life while waiting for death.

In each stage of our life, we strive to balance our body, mind and spiritual needs.  As we evaluate the stages we may find that we do not match all the natural criteria for the stage, do not worry.   We are all different, we develop differently and we grow at different rates.   The criteria I set forth is basic, it is not set in stone, the importance of it is to recognize that there are DIFFERENT stages of development in the three basic areas of our being: body, mind and spirit.

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OUTSIDE INFLUENCES
The Role of Time, Money and Energy In Goal Setting

( Copyright 1994 Jill K. Hassler)

By Jill K. Hassler

Horses are expensive.  There is no question that they are major consumers of time, energy, and money.  As part of setting your goals, you must ask yourself how important horses are in your life.   What portions of your time, energy, and money are you willing to allocate to support your horse interests?  You must also examine how much time, energy, and money you have available.  The first is a qualitative question -- a matter of priorities.   The second is a quantitative -- a matter or resource management.

In the article on "Motivation" you decided why you are involved with horses.  Now I am going to ask you how intensely you want to be involved and how realistically you are able to be involved?  How high do horses rank in your life?  If your involvement is recreational, is it your only recreation, or do you also enjoy other activities such as golf, tennis, or music?  Do you try to fit as many of your interests as possible into your busy schedule?  Or do you focus on enjoying one interest to the fullest?

There is a wide range of expenditures required for the different reasons for riding.  Various demands are created by life itself.  Within all of the factors, there are degrees of involvement that can result in a varied expenditure of time, money, and energy.  The only constant among all the variables is the fact that a competitor or professional must be prepared to invest more.

Still another way of looking at the quality issue is to ask yourself how near to the limits of your resources you want to operate.   Are you willing to be in danger of overdrawing your checkbook every month so you can pay the feed bill?  Are you willing to juggle your schedule every day so you can find time to ride?  Are you willing to eliminate other activities for your life so that your horse involvement can be relaxing and enjoyable?  If something has to go, will it be horses or something else?

To answer these questions, you must know yourself.  there are no categorically right or wrong answers.  Your individual needs will dictate what is right or wrong for you.  Pleasure, enjoyment and fulfillment come wrapped in different packages for different people.  We must learn what gives US pleasure and satisfaction, so that we may eliminate as much frustration as possible from our lives, while still meeting the needs of society.  However, we must not be critical of other people's balance of time, money and energy.  Just as we expect others to accept our balance of these factors, we must accept theirs.

No matter where horses fall in your priorities, and no matter what pace you prefer, you can achieve a more effective use of time, energy, and money.  Approaching this question from a quantitative standpoint, the amount of time, energy, and money you have to spend will influence the type of riding you do.  Competition is more expensive than recreational riding.  You may want to compete, but if your resources are limited, you may  not be able to.  You may want to be a professional, but find that it is possible only if you also have another source of income.  You may like the challenge of training a young horse, but find that you are too tired after working all day to have the patience that the task requires.   You may want to seek national or zone awards, but find that your work schedule does not permit the flexibility required to get to the necessary horse shows.  Your decisions must take into consideration all facets of your life, not just your dreams.

Keeping a horse costs a lot of money.   If you begin with the purchase price and then add to that the maintenance fees and the cost of training, equipment, instruction, and competition, you substantially increase your financial obligations.  Most of the cost of horses goes into the care of the horse.

Another element to be considered is energy.   Physical energy is required for the long hours of work, and mental energy is necessary to stay fresh.  If you are not mentally fresh and energetic, it will be difficult for you to communicate effectively with your horse.  Tired people cannot enjoy the experience they are working so hard to achieve.  On the other hand, some feel that their time with horses energizes them mentally.  It is important for you to determine if horses use up your energy or create more energy.  You must also learn to distinguish physical energy from mental energy.

If you do not have enough money to board your horse, you will need considerable time and energy.  Horses take a good deal of your time.  Their care and training and your training are VERY TIME CONSUMING.   You can expect each ride to take one to one and a half hours.  Add to that the travel time to your stable.

Now take a serious look at your time.   Begin now to keep a time chart to learn how much time the various demands on your life require.

The busy person must be very clear in setting priorities and then be flexible in adjusting to meet them.  I once taught a very busy medical doctor.  He loved to foxhunt, but the demands of his profession prevented him from riding more than a few times a month.  He would have loved to hunt on those days, but he questioned whether it was fair to his horse and his body.  He solved the horse problem by hiring someone to exercise his horse.  He decided to challenge his body.  Because he was in the prime of his life, he did not feel any serious limitations.  As he approached his later middle age, however, he discovered that he had to reschedule his professional hours so he could ride in between hunts.   His body began to lose its elasticity and he experienced muscle soreness, but he was unwilling to give up the mental refreshment that he received from his riding.   Fortunately, he was able to adjust his office hours so he could ride four times a week to keep his body in shape.  This allowed him to meet the goal he clearly wanted to attain.

Be honest and realistic in your evaluation of your time, energy, and money.  Do not let your wishes about what could be, blind you to what really is possible for you.  Be open-minded once you know what your priorities really are and what the demands on your life really cost in terms of time, energy, and money.  What trade-offs are necessary or possible without sacrificing your health, your family, or your financial stability?  Ask questions like these: what would my spouse do or say if I spend X hours a month away from home training with my horse?  If we eliminate ABC from our budget to have money for lessons and shows, will we be sorry?  In the short run?  In the long run?  Do I really need the mental and physical challenge of training a young horse now, when I am also starting a new job which is really important to me?  Continue with questions of your own to refine your appraisal of how horses can fit into your life.  With this enhanced self-knowledge, you are now ready to set your goals.

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CHOOSING GOALS
Actual Goal Planning Suggestions

( Copyright 1994 Jill K. Hassler)

By Jill K. Hassler

To set your goals, begin by writing down all of your dreams about your involvement with horses.  Take several days to let your mind flow over the possibilities.  Do not worry if your dreams overlap or if they seem unrealistic.  Include everything, no matter how long it might take you.

The editorial process begins with selecting those dreams that seem long-term: those that would take you one to three years to meet, or perhaps even longer.  Then combine those that overlap and write each at the top of a piece of paper.  Use what you learned about yourself in the articles on Motivation, Stages of Life, and Outside Influences to choose those goal possibilities that are realistic for you.  Set aside any that seem crazy, and concentrate on the two or three that seem to fit you.

Give special attention to whether your motivation was primarily pleasure, competition, or professional.  To a large extent, these broad categories measure the importance of horses in your life.  Horses must have a higher priority for the professional than for the pleasure rider.  If you are still unsure about yourself, allow your goals to reflect taking pleasure in your horse.   It is easy to move up the ladder to competition or professional if pleasure does not offer enough challenge.  It is harder to accept moving down if you overextend yourself.

After you have chosen the long-term goals, go back to your original list and pick up any intermediate and short-term goals that will help you move toward your long term goals.  Write them on the appropriate pieces of paper.  Be sure that the intermediate and short-term goals are in order.  Goals must be achieved in the proper sequence for training to be effective.  Keep brainstorming until you have a clear idea of how you will proceed toward your long-term goal.

The last step is to edit the language of your goals.  The more long-term the goal is, the broader it should be.  Even a long-term goal must contain standards by which you may measure its completion.  The benefit of the goal-setting is as much from realizing that you have met your goal as it is from knowing where you are going.

No matter where you are starting, I hope that you can discover the confidence, energy, and awareness created by using goals to enhance your life experience, whether with horses or any other aspect of your life.

Steps in Choice of Each Goal

1.  Brain storm dreams.
2.  Consider motivation, your stage in life, and outside influences.
3.  Choose realistic long-term (dream) goal.
4.  List steps to attain long-term goal, intermediate goal.
5.  Make day to day plans to meet first intermediate goal.
6.  Set new day to day plan as you achieve each day's goal.
7.  Go to second intermediate goal after you meet first intermediate goal.

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