5 Winning Action Steps

Team Gif: NSBA Winners Karla Friedli with Hannah & Margie Buchholz

Team Gif: Karla Friedli, Gifford, Hannah & Margie Buchholz    Photo Credit Rachel Reilly

Most people go through life and wish they had the money for a fancy outfit, a full time trainer or a better horse. Yet most of the winners, those who repeatedly find success in and out of the show ring, don’t have a wish list at all. Instead they embrace challenge, take responsibility for their results and ownership of their destiny and understand sacrifice.

Last week we looked at those behaviors listed above that successful people have in common. Below are 5 action steps commonly used by high achievers.

  1. Winners set goals. The number one characteristic of successful people is that they set realistic, measurable goals. Reams of material are available about goal setting. What is important for riders about setting goals is to make sure that goals are performance based – NOT outcome based.

Riders who set out to “win” often struggle the hardest to achieve their goals. They think       about winning and do not focus on their ride and the aspects of their performance that determine quality. Set goals that pertain to specific areas of riding; move from large fast circle to small slow circle with ease, learn to feel diagonal without looking, stop without saying whoa in showmanship.

Use the SMART goals to determine goals for you and your horse. SMART is an acronym defining goals as specific, measurable, attainable, realistic (relevant using resources available to you) and timely.

  1. Winners practice relentlessly. Winners do not just show up on game day, they show up every day; they show up early and stay late. They ask questions and mirror successful riders practicing until they have the moves down pat. Winning riders don’t shy away from a challenge – they actually seek a good workout – enjoy stretching their limits and building on the previous day’s work. Winners often do what the others don’t or won’t – like practice without irons or ride in frigid temperatures or ask to ride another horse when they have worn out their own.
  1. Winners ask for it. Whether at the barn or in the show ring, winners are not afraid to ask for a win. Recently while judging, fellow judge Rick Christy mused, “in order to win in showmanship, you have to have won in showmanship”. In other words, you have to look and act as if you have already won – you have to ask for it. Others euphuisms include “fake it till you make it”, “act like the winner you want to be”, “imaging it, do it, become it”. No matter, they all mean the same thing; you have to present to the world your intention to win.
  1. Winners build a team. No one makes it to the top alone. Everyone needs the help of another along the way to the winner’s circle. Successful people surround themselves with others who are achievers; people who are knowledgeable and have the ability to positively influence their chances of reaching their goals.

When I was young and trying to find my place in the horse business, I accepted an invitation for drinks at a popular Club during the AQHA World Championship Show. Once there, I looked around and realized the people who I aspired to be like were not there. The achievers were either catching a few hours of sleep or at the show grounds riding in an arena void of wannabes. Now I spend my nights in empty arenas preparing for the show or making sure I am rested enough to be prepared on show day.

  1. Winners plan. Determining strategies should be a part of setting goals. Creating a plan for reaching your goals is part of SMART goal setting. Strategize your rides by doing your most challenging exercises first when energy levels are highest and you mind is the sharpest. Assess your ride, your performance at the show and reflect on what you have learned. Return to your goals and strategies to make sure your plan is still appropriate for the new circumstances.

Planning for success is evolutional – ever changing. Those who learn to adapt quickly and efficiently to dynamic environments find the most success. Finish what you start – regardless of the results – the lessons you take away from failed attempts bring you closer to accomplishing your goals. As always, enjoy the ride.

Horses are the best teachers.