I recently had to ask myself what the point of a goal is. 4-H requires its members to set at least five goals every year regarding their project, and that is a part that I always struggle with. This year it came time to review my goals in the Story of my Project section, and I was a bit ashamed. I had completed fewer than half! That is why I started asking myself what the point of goals actually is.

I came to the conclusion that the point is to make me do something, whether I actually fulfill it completely or not.

Making a goal gives you something to strive for. There are many reasons a goal will not be completed, especially in the field of horse training. You realize, for instance, that before you can train your horse to tie nicely he must be trained to lead. That takes time, and you are suddenly off course for your goal.

Are you? You are still working towards having a tie-able horse in the end. To get there, he needs to lead properly. You are still on track. The timing isn’t. But that’s okay! The point of the goal was to get you to do something.

Needless to say, goals cannot be unattainable. For example, I know that I cannot work Jamileh more than once a week. Therefore, there are certain things that I will not be able to teach her. This is not because a lack of ability on either her part or mine; it is simply the fact that training takes time, consistency, and patience. In a once a week session we can accomplish a lot, and I can move her from a moody mare to a willing partner. Anything more complex (e.g. flying lead changes) will be made easier with the solid foundation I have given her, but they will not be achieved with anything less than steady, consistent, regular practice.

So go make a few goals. Does your horse constantly walk all over you? Maybe you could start with basic ground manners. The horse you lead is the horse you ride. Is your horse a perfect angel on the ground, but transforms suddenly into something else when you ride? Perhaps it is time to find a saddle that fits him better and to begin manners training in the saddle. Goals shouldn’t bring you down – they should build you up and give you the incentive to move your horse along.