It’s the first riding sessions of the new year. The riders were excited to be back in spite of the cold temperatures. This year I decided to start the year asking about goals.

“Goals?” asked one six-year old.

“Yes, what would you like to do this year.”

“Go to Cedar Point. We couldn’t last year because my brother broke his leg.”

Jenna trots ButtercupOops! I need to be more specific. So I rephrased it to focus on horseback riding. The answer came back very clear. “Keep riding all year!”

Got it.

Next class the riders were older, but just to be safe I rephrased the question to focus on horseback riding.

“Canter!” shouted the first rider.

“Good for you, but we need to make the goal something we can do by the show. How about post the trot around the arena.”

“Ride with a bit,” said the second.

Now we are getting it.

After the classes I started to think about how many times we set goals for ourselves that are too aggressive. We end up falling short and feeling like we failed.

In our riding classes our curriculum follows a pedagogy that builds on previous success as we challenge our riders to achieve. We like to think of it as No Rider Left Behind. Every rider should be able to say, “Yes! I can!” when presented with a new skill because they know it is achievable.

Now that the riders know where they are heading, I need to think of my goals as an instructor. Better examples, more exercises, and, of course, lots of fun in every riding session.

How about you? Do you have riding goals for 2013?