Setting Goals for the New Year

What is really important to YOU?

We are often led to believe we should be doing a certain thing with our horses. In a certain way, at a certain level, in a certain amount of time.

These beliefs have been congregated over time from past experiences, memories and knowledge we’ve acquired.

But from all the things you do with your horse and the beliefs you have about yourself and your horse, what has really come from you? In what way has your environment influenced you and is it truly what you believe and what you want?

What really gives you fulfillment when you’re with your horse?

This is important to know when you’re setting goals for the new year. So let’s find out by answering the questions below.

Getting Started

Below you’ll find questions around several topics to find out what’s truly fulfilling to you. 

I advice you to take out a piece of paper and write down the answers.

Also, take your time to answer these questions. Sometimes you need to dig a little bit deeper to find the true answer.  

Your dreams when you were young

The older we get, the more we shape our beliefs based on all the influences around us. However, do you remember how care-free you may have been as a child? Very often, going back to that time period can tell us a lot about what gives us joy. 

Dreams when you were young

What were your dreams and ambitions related to horses when you were younger?

Joy and flow

What did you enjoy doing around horses when you were younger? This can be when you were a child or even a few years ago. What activities made you lose track of time and get in a 'flow'? Try to list as many activities as you can possibly remember.

Sure, if you enjoyed playing cowboys and Indians as a child, I wouldn’t be surprised if that isn’t exactly what you aspire doing today. But very often there are certain elements in those activities that can be translated to things you would enjoying doing as an adult.  

Evaluating the activities

When you look at the activities listed, can you find certain similarities? Are there elements or characteristics to those activities that apparantly makes you happy?

Evaluation of the current situation

Let’s take inventory of how you’re doing right now. 

Dreams as an of today

What are your current dreams and ambitions? What are you hoping to achieve? What are your goals?

Daily or weekly activities

What do your daily or weekly activities around your horse look like?

Activities in relation to your goals

What activities are required to achieve your goals? Do they match the activities listed in the previous assignment? If not, what other activities 'should' you be doing?

Evaluating the activities

Of all the activities listed, both the ones you're actually doing and the ones you 'should' be doing to achieve your goals, what are the activities you enjoy doing? What are the activities, or moments in those activities, that give you fulfillment?

It could be the case that you now find out you’re actually pursuing a goal that require activities and actions you don’t necessarily enjoy. 

Of course, sometimes you have to undertake actions that are less enjoyable in order to achieve a certain goal. But when they make up most of your time, you know you’re not on the path that suits you. 

Activities in the past versus activities as of today

If you look back at the characteristics of the activities you enjoyed doing when you were younger, do you see those characteristics in your current activities as well? What could you change to your activities to implement those characteristics?

Looking at all the influences

We’ve looked at your past and the current situation. The next step is to look at all the things that may have had an influence on how you perceive yourself as a rider and what your beliefs are regarding the level you’re at and what you should be striving for.

The influence of the People around you

One of the most important influences on your beliefs come from the people around you. Think of relatives, but also the people at your stable or riding club and your trainer. This can have a positive influence, but it can also influence you in a way that, unconsciously, you’re not being true to yourself. That you’re living someone else’s life and dreams.

Influential relatives

What do your relatives consider to be a good or successful rider? What do they consider you 'should' be doing with your horse and how you should spend your time ideally?

The role of your Trainer

What does your trainer consider to be a good or successful rider? What does your trainer consider you 'should' be doing with your horse and how you should spend your time ideally?

The people at your stable and riding club

What do the people at your stable or riding club consider to be a good or successful rider? What do they consider you 'should' be doing with your horse and how you should spend your time ideally?


When you look at the answers to the previous three questions, do you see similarities? In what way has it influenced your beliefs, goals and activities? And in what way does it influence the thoughts you're having when you're with your horse?

The influence of Social Media

Social media can be a very inspiring place, but it can also, unconsciously, lead to comparisons based on the level you should be at and how you should be working with your horse.

Influential equestrians

List the top five equestrians or equestrian organizations that you follow mostly on social media.

Top 5 influential equestrians and equestrian organizations

1. ...
2. ...
3. ...
4. ...
5. ...

Influential equestrians

Behind each name, write down in what way this person or organization inspires you in a positive ánd negative way and how it has influences your beliefs and actions.

Sometimes you find that you’re following people that might make you feel insecure or dissatisfied about your progress, how you are as a rider and the level you’re at. This can, of course, inspire you to do better. But be careful to check if it’s really what you truly want.

Social Media Detox

Consider going through your social feed and unfollow equestrians that don't inspire you in a positive way. Also consider limiting the time you're spending on social media if you feel it's not serving you.

The influence of your Horses

What you want to achieve with your horse and how you feel about working with your horse, is also influenced by previous experiences you’ve had with other horses and through comparisons with past success and failure with your current horse. 

Experiences with previous horses

How do the experiences with previous horses and the achievements have an influence on your expectations towards yourself as a rider and your horse? How does it influence your beliefs?

Comparison to past success and failures

How do past success or failures with your current horse influence you on a daily basis? How does it influence the thoughts you're having while you're with your horse?

Remember that the only things that matters when you’re with your horse is ‘now’. Not what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. The real truth comes from your horse in the present moment.

Final thoughts

When you look back at all the questions you’ve answered, what are your biggest insights and what actions are you going to take to live the life you truly want?


What are your biggest insights from answering all of the questions?


What changes are you going to make in you goals, ambitions and/or activities?

Goals and ambitions

Now you know what truly fulfills you and brings you joy, what are your goals and ambitions for the new year?

We’ve looked at what may influence your thoughts, beliefs and expectations towards yourself as a rider and towards your horse.

But the real truth is that all of these thoughts derived from these places are totally irellevant to the current situation and relationship you have with your horse. 

Because none of those outside influences are You or your Horse!

The only, real truth is in the now…

Deep down, if you’re being truthful, you know what gives you fulfillment and what feels right.

Follow and your own journey and don’t forget to be happy with your progress.

– Tristan 

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