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In 2016, when May and I competed more regularly, I was really, really good at setting goals for each show. This year, as we returned to horse trials, I let them slip for the first one, but I am determined to make this a habit again. Our modest Sr. Starter division has 18 entries, so I am going to be really conscious of keeping goals away from ribbons and onto things I can control.

In writing this list, I realized that it is really a combination of two lists I had done previously: the one before our first BN and the one before our first recognized trial. The former was a BLINDING success in my mind, while the latter still feels a bit like a failure. The hilarious part? I got a better score (by like 6 points) at the recognized event. Just goes to show you, scores do not tell the whole story.



I am not sure what to even write here. We scored a 24.2 from a very soft judge at the last schooling horse trial, which had us in 4th out of 19. I am going to throw out there that I want to score below a 35. I think our last test was, more fairly, in the 35 range, and we will be doing Into C, which is not a test I have ever done before.


Show Jumping

Ride forward. Really. That’s it. If poles come down because May doesn’t respect anything at 2′, then I am ok with that. I will not be ok with crawling over more oxers. If we are going to get back to BN, we need to go forward.


Cross Country

Do the water if it’s an option. I would much rather be out of the ribbons and get a 20, but school the water, then have the same thing happen at a BN recognized horse trial in the future. I don’t need to prove to anyone that we can win. I just need to make sure that my horse and I come through the finish flags as an even better team.



No negative self talk. I am just going to quote this one from my first BN horse trial:

I am not nervous, I am excited. That is not a huge jump, it is a reasonable effort. I did not screw up; I found something we need to work on. My pony is not a Corgi, she is an elegant gazelle (or something I guess)

Utilize visualization to create positive outcomes before they even happen. This always sounds kind of hippy to me, but it does work.

Stay Positive. At the end of the day, I am at a horse trial with my friends, and I am riding a horse that is genuinely just happy to pop over some fences with me.

Anyone wonder why she decided it wasn’t in our best interest to attempt the next jump from a weird stride and awkward angle?

Things not on the list:

1. Clean Jumping Rounds: If we get rails, we get rails. If I try for one of the bank/ditch/water options and get a refusal, that’s not the end of the world. I am truly utilizing this event as a barometer for what we need to focus on going forward. I am going to ride like I stole it and come away with issues to work on.

2. Make My Trainer Proud: Maybe one day I will write a full post on this one. However, I think a lot of riders put a lot of pressure on themselves to not embarrass their trainer. I know I do. Of course, I managed to eat dirt during Marilyn Payne’s clinic in 2016, so I am not sure I could embarrass anyone more. At the end of the day, I work hard, am nice to the other boarders, pay my bills on time, and care about my horse. That’s all my trainer really wants from me.

3. Win: One day, I would like this to be our goal, but after so much time out of the game, it is not our goal on Sunday.

Even though I am still a 12 year old kid who loves ribbons. 

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  1. martidoll123

    yay fun times ahead. Have a blast and just keep on going 🙂 I think May is the best corgi horse (ahem GAZELLE) around 😉 You have your team there rooting you on and your team online rooting you on too!! You got this! 🙂 Great goals…..I am living thru you so go jump some jumps. PS Intro C sucks Sorry LOL It is an odd test. You won’t have any issues with it but when I did it before it was just not a fluid test to do. 🙂 GO MAY GO! 🙂 I wish i was there to shout in person but think of me shouting from the internet 🙂

    1. Emily

      I ran through the Intro C last night and UGH. So tough to really show anything at the canter, and then the LONG trot at the end. So odd.

      I will try to get as much media as possible for you! (and all my other blog peeps)

  2. AMC

    Good luck and have fun, I think you’re being super smart about this!

    1. Emily

      Thank you! I’m excited to just get out there with my pony again.

  3. the_everything_pony

    I think your goals are great! It took me a LONG time (with lots of hurtful boo-boos) to learn how to chill out before a show, come up with reasonable goals within the progress you’ve been making, and then after that it is what it is haha. I think those goals set you up for a lot of success as well as just having a great time with May! (also not gonna lie I really want to steal her at the moment ;P haha!) Have a great time!

    1. Emily

      Thank you! I know I can be a bit irrational at shows (and after them), so it has REALLY helped me to set goals that are within my control and obtainable.

  4. t

    Best of luck this weekend!

    1. Emily

      Thank you!

  5. L. Williams

    These are some really great goals and I hope you accomplish them and then some!

    1. Emily

      Thank you! Getting excited 🙂

  6. Nicole

    I like these goals. I will be heading to my first horse trial EVER in September with my wonderful schoolmaster leased horse, with his owner is coming with us. I am trying really hard not to put unrealistic expectations on myself and him, especially since we have been schooling so so well recently. I just want to go and have a confidence building day, even if we don’t place or have a couple of bobbles. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and walk away disappointed because I didn’t ride perfectly or we didn’t place.

    1. Emily

      It sounds like you have a good plan! My rules for my first horse trial were something like: be positive, focus on relaxation more than performance, find our starting score to work from.

      You’ll do great!

  7. KateRose

    Good luck and have fun! I love your goals (and your non-goals) 🙂

  8. Melanie

    Those are fantastic goals…and not-goals! I was talking to a potential new trainer the other day about my goals…when I realized my main one was to just enjoy myself. Second after that, is ‘make the course’, as we used to say in racing. lol.

    Buzz and I are still a ways away from actually competing (but it’s actually at the point of thinking about!) but I hope I find myself with similar goals to yours when we do get there….seeing the competitions for what they are, a chance to “compete” against ourselves rather than other people and come away with a sense of having accomplished something pretty damn cool. 🙂

    1. Emily

      Yes! The number one goal is to enjoy myself. This hobby is too expensive for it not to be fun. A close second is completing the competition. I love my horse because she is fun and safe and sassy. If I can just keep that in mind, the rest is frosting on a cake.

  9. Emma

    I love these goals and love your attitude. This is exactly the type of approach I try to take to showing. Even tho it’s easier to get distracted by things like impressive scores or flawless equitation or whatever it’s much more important at outings like this to really focus on the pieces that are laying the foundation for future success. Like I agree 1000% about schooling the water even if it might mean getting a penalty. Maybe even talk to your trainer during the course walk about other schooling opportunities that can be interwoven into your course. Mostly tho good luck !

    1. Emily

      Fun fact. We did the water. We didn’t get penalties. I am super proud of us!

      Trainer definitely said we would be schooling water at our next outing!

      1. emma

        yessssss congrats!! can’t wait to read all about it!!

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