Guest Blog – Setting Goals or Wishing on Stars in your Equine Career?


Horse shoe

By Patti Bartsch, M.A., Ph.D.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there? When working with coaching clients, I always ask them to set a goal for their sessions.   It’s important for both of us to know what to focus on; otherwise we’re just chatting.

I’ve learned that many people never set goals, they make wishes.   They wish they’d lose a few pounds.   The wish they could have better balance in the saddle.   They wish they got better ribbons at horse shows.   They wish they had a different job.   Etc.   But they don’t do much, if anything, to accomplish these things.   The difference between goals and wishes are that goals are written down and they have an action plan associated with them.   You may say that your goal is to win the Ladies Pleasure Championship, but unless you write it down and create a plan for how you will accomplish this, it’s just a wish.

Horse shoe

Horse Shoe

While everyone has their comfort zone, I often talk about the discomfort zone.   This is when someone isn’t actually comfortable, but they’re stuck.   Lots of people operate in the discomfort zone.   They’re unhappy with something in their life – maybe lots of things – but they won’t do anything about it.   They just wish things were different.   Well, you can’t have progress without change.   Something’s got to change or you will spend all of your time in your discomfort zone wishing you were somewhere else.

Remember, the first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one.   Once you recognize that you are in your discomfort zone, you can start to make a plan to escape and live the life you want to live.   Once you do that, you’re ready to set your goals.

dream time

dream time

When setting a goal, it’s best to use the S.M.A.R.T. plan.   SMART goals meet certain criteria that make it:

Specific – Measurable – Actionable – Realistic – Time Bound

Specific: To earn the title of 2011 Ladies Pleasure Champion

Measurable: Attend at least 8 shows.   Win at least 5 classes.   Always in top 3.

Actionable: Ride 3 times per week.   Take weekly yoga classes. 2 hours of cardio per week.

Realistic: I am a lady and I have a quality horse for this division and the motivation to do what

it takes to become Ladies Pleasure Champion.   I will leave work on time on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to have time to exercise.

Time Bound: Between April and November,2011, I will accrue enough points to earn the title.

When writing a goal, it’s helpful to follow this format:

To (action verb) (key results) by (target date) requiring (resources)

To become Ladies Pleasure Champion, I will attend at least 8 shows, always place in the top 3, and win at least 5 classes between April and November, 2011 by leaving work on time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, riding 3 or more times per week, taking weekly yoga classes, and getting 2 or more hours of cardio exercise each week.

As spring approaches, it’s the perfect time to set new goals for the ye ar. I invite you to think about what needs to change in your discomfort zone and to use the SMART goal format to write down at least one goal and action plan to get one step closer to your Naturally Unbridled life.

Post your goal(s) in the Comments below!

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Patti Bartsch, M.A., Ph.D. is the owner of Naturally Unbridled, a Holistic Life & Wellness Coaching company specializing in Equestrian Women.   She is an Professor  of Natural Health as well as the author of 100 Days, 100 Ways to a Happier, Healthier Life, and “7 Steps to a Naturally Unbridled Life”.   Patti is an experienced equestrian, scientist, nutritionist, educator and mentor.   Through her coaching, Patti helps equestrians to apply natural, holistic health concepts to achieve their optimal life, health and performance in the saddle.   For more information about Patti and to take her free quiz, please visit her  website

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