Ready, Set, Goal! Preparing For the Upcoming Season

One question clients often ask is “What are we going to do next year?” That can be difficult to answer, but it’s a valid question. The best way to get a clear plan of next year’s schedule is to have a meeting with your trainer to talk about your goals for next show season. During the year, life gets busy, making it difficult to have time to talk. I like to schedule meetings with each client at the end of the season. It gives me an opportunity to check in with them on a individual basis to see if their needs are being met and see what they are thinking going forward. I usually present them with a general show schedule that I think works best for all my clients. The conversation continues from there. Goal meetings should always be a fun and welcoming environment. I encourage both kids and adults to be very vocal in what their future goals are for both the short and long term. It’s a good idea to know what to expect going into a meeting, so here are a few tips.

First, it’s important to remember your goals need to align with your horse’s abilities. The health and safety of your horse is most important, so make sure you goals can be achieved successfully with the horse you have. And be honest, pushing yourself or your horse beyond your skill level can be frustrating. It often ends with either horse or rider losing confidence. There’s nothing worse than a rider or horse over-faced and placed in a division beyond its ability.

There’s nothing worse than a rider or horse over-faced and placed in a division beyond its ability.

Next, come prepared to talk about your show schedule and have a budget in mind. I start by asking what shows my clients would like to attend. The show schedule is tentative, we all know things change throughout the year. If it’s more manageable to plan in smaller increments, like 3 months away, let your trainer know. We get it!


Qualifying for year end medals or circuit championships can take time; you need to plan accordingly. Give yourself plenty of shows to accumulate points. Plan on a few local shows in case you need a few more points. That will give you and your trainer enough time to qualify without causing unnecessary stress on you and your horse.

If you have an interest in a few shows that are out of state, now is a good time to bring them up. The show schedules that I come up with are flexible, so if someone has an interest in trying a new facility or show management, great! It’s always fun to try something new.


Not ready for the show ring? No problem. There are plenty of ways to challenge yourself at home. Ask your trainer to set a few simple daily or weekly goals for you that you can work on until you succeed.

Photo Courtesy of Anasofia Vazquez

No matter what your expectations are for next season, remember that goals need to be achievable and flexible.  Keep your expectations in check; showing and riding can have great success and great setbacks. The best and worst ride can happen in the same day. Believe me, it’s very humbling. You have a trainer to help you succeed and support your goals. Be respectful of their time and listen to their advice. Don’t forget, we are lucky to ride horses.  We should never take that for granted.


See related: Align Your Minds: Setting Riding and Training Goals with Your Trainer

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