Setting goals for this winter – blog by Ella Vincent


So, the British Eventing calendar for 2017 has recently come out, and this means it’s time to set some goals for next year. Winter can be a long season for horse riders, but we can use this winter to our advantage, by using the plentiful training opportunities available. Read on to learn how to make 2017 your most successful season yet:


What do you want?

The first thing to do is work out what you want to achieve in the future. Keep it realistic, achievable and something that you are motivated to do. I learnt an acronym at school which I use to set targets with for riding - I’m sure a lot of you have heard about setting “SMART” targets. Each letter stands for a separate criteria needed to make a good target. These are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time constrained

An example of a smart target would be:

“By May 2017, I want to have achieved a sub-35 (above 65%) dressage score at an affiliated one day event”.

SMART targets may be common at school and in the work place, but they are often utilised because they ensure that you are clear about what you want to achieve, which avoids unrealistic expectations and frustrations.

Plan of action

So, you’ve set your target. Now what? Option one is to wait for the deadline to come around, or option two is to make a diary with a specific plan to give you the best possible chance of achieving it.

Make a list of all the schooling opportunities, demonstrations, residential camps and competitions in your area before choosing which ones will be the most beneficial for you. For each competition before the deadline set a mini target or focus point so you can see if you’re on track for achieving your target.

Two parts to the formula

As most riders know, horses are the best levellers…it’s pretty common for horses to set you back or become injured when you’re just about to get going. My main method for avoiding such disappointments is to not only focus on your progress as a partnership, but also on your own progress. Take some responsibility and ensure you are in peak condition too - running, Pilates or going to the gym are all great ways to get stronger and fitter. Improving my fitness allows me to focus on my own strengths and weaknesses, so if my horse has a set-back, I can distract myself from the disappointment by focussing on my own targets. It also means that you’ve put yourself in the best possible position if everything goes to plan – you won’t later find that you’re limited by your own capabilities.

Confidence is key

Try not to allow your nerves to get to you. The best way to prevent this is to ensure both you and your horse are sufficiently experienced to compete at the level you are aiming for. You can make sure of this by planning plenty of training and low-key competitions before you step up to a higher level.

Another way to feel more confident is to make sure you look, and feel, the part. If your horse looks smart and clean (I recommend using Eqclusive grooming sets for this) and you feel positive then you’re sure to perform better than if you feel anxious.

Stay motivated

Remember – it’s meant to be fun! If you’re feeling low on motivation, try to find a friend who is at a similar level to you so you can train together. Make sure you break up your training regime with hacking, new experiences and fun days out in order to keep you and your horse interested.


Do you have any secrets for success that would help your fellow riders? Have you used any of the methods above? Let me know by using the links below.


By Ella Vincent, a 16 year old aspiring event rider and blogger who is generously sponsored by Eqclusive If you want to find out more about me, you can follow my Twitter, Instagram or Youtube channels, or read more articles on eveventing.


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