I watched a really interesting webinar about dressage showing the other day. There was a ton of great information about how to prepare, perform, and progress but one thing really stood out for me and explained why sometimes my goal setting seems a bit off. Why sometimes, I get a good placing or score but don't feel very satisfied. We all know that goal setting is important to improvement, but in dressage we tend to think of goals as a score or a placing. Instead, what if we think about the result we want but have broader ideas of what a result can encompass?
So, if a result in dressage can be all sorts of things like harmony, how the rider feels after the test, just completing without an E, relaxation and responsiveness in the test, a certain percentage score, a certain placing, or even winning, there can be much more variation on goal setting. Instead of just this percentage or that placing, goals can be much more broad. This makes so much sense to me. See, for some people winning is the goal they set and the result they need to be happy. For me, if my horse is tense and incorrect I don't care if I won, but if my horse is relaxed and correct and a better pair bests us, so it goes. Still one in the W column in my mind. For every rider on every horse there is a different result they truly want and thinking really carefully about what result would truly make you happy leads to much better goal setting.
This has opened up a whole new way of thinking about goals and explains how I need to set up my goal setting for shows in the future. With Jet, if he is relaxed and attentive the tests are typically pretty good, especially since we are doing an easy for him Training Level this year. If my goal is relaxation, balance, and self carriage in my show tests, the scores and placings will take care of themselves. Getting there will not be easy with his tension issues sometimes in a show environment, but now that I understand that is the result that will make me happy, I have a much better goal in mind. No guarantee we will get there, but having the goal be clear will definitely help with strategies. Striving for harmony and correctness ultimately works for me at home and if we do the same for showing and get a few ribbons along the way, that would be nice as well.