Episode 113: How to calendar your horse goals

In a perfect world…what would this year look like with your horse?
What would you accomplish?
In January of 2022…what would you like to have achieved?
In this podcast I share with you how I use my calendar and tracking to get so much done.
One of the reasons that I take January goal setting so seriously is because with three horses, show goals, family commitments, and a business to run I see a huge benefit to planning ahead.

Full transcript

Episode 113-How to calendar your horse goals5.mp3

Announcer: [00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill, this is the Stacy Westfall podcast, Stacy’s goal is simple: to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I’m here to teach you how to understand, enjoy, and successfully train your own horses.In the last two podcasts, I have covered 3 reasons you’re afraid to set big goals with your horses. And I answered the question, “Can you have a relationship and get results with your horse?” In this podcast, I’m going to walk you through how I take those concepts and now take my goals with my horses and make them into smart goals, and I’m going to use the upcoming 2021 season and my own horses as an example so that you can hopefully get inspired to do the same thing. So I talked about smart goals in Episode 7 of this podcast, but that was more than 100 episodes ago. So let’s take just a minute and refresh.

Stacy Westfall: [00:01:25] So a SMART goal–SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time bound. And so that’s what I want you to be listening to while you’re while you’re listening to this podcast. Listen for how specific and measurable my goals are and the action steps I’m going to calendar in and how those are relevant to what I want to achieve by the end of the year. And you’ll see the time bound things that are going to lead me to the end of the year. So last year, just a quick thought after recording it, I made the podcast on relationships and results and I kind of wondered after I released it whether or not I made setting like big goals almost sound irrelevant. And it’s really interesting because I love the relationship with my horses, but I also love setting really big goals. And I actually think it’s my superpower that I value the relationship so I can set these big goals. I don’t feel any conflict, but I also feel this immense freedom while I’m going after these goals. And so that’s what I was trying to get across. But I really, really, really do believe that you can have both. So if this podcast starts to sound a little bit too goal heavy, because it might, make sure that you go back and listen or listen again to Episode 112, which could almost sound a little bit relationship heavy. Now, let’s go on to making my goals with my horses for 2021 SMART goals. So first, I just want to say, if you haven’t set your goals for this year, one piece of advice I would give you is I would say, look at it like this. Take yourself a year into the future. Go to January 2022. Wow, that’s a number. And in a perfect world, if you had the perfect year with your horse this year, you get to the end of the year, it’s January 2022. What would you have achieved with your horse? And I think this exercise is helpful in a couple different ways. I think it’s helpful if you’ve been vague and–it–and you’re not really clear about what you want to do at all. And I also think it’s helpful if you have multiple goals and you’re not quite sure which one to prioritize. Because to me, I tend to have that. The second problem is the problem I run into more often in this area of my life. I use this in other areas and the unclear thing comes up more for me there. So in this one, if I’m looking at someone like Willow, so I’m looking at Willow, for example, and I have multiple goals with her. And I’m not–not quite clear then what I do is I imagine myself January 2022 and I imagine the different end results. So for example, earning my silver medal in traditional dressage with Willow is at the top of my list. Earning money in reining–in NRHA reining money–is also on the list. Riding in a working equitation clinic is on the list. And so I’ve got all these different things on the list. When I look at the list, I go out to January 2022 in my head and I think what’s the one that I would be really excited if I had achieved? And if I put earning reining money in there, I’m like, that’s good. But if I put my silver medal in traditional dressage, I’m over the moon excited. I’m like, oh, could I really do that with Willow this year? Really? So I just kind of put myself out into that future and I then come back here and I already know which one’s going to make me more excited, so I go ahead and pick that one.

Stacy Westfall: [00:05:40] So when I kind of reach out there into the future, it helps me pick what my one main focus is in case anything else might conflict. Now I have to also, in full disclosure, say just because that’s going to be my main focus, I will still stack things in an order that it might be possible to do both, but I will pick whatever it takes to move towards the silver medal because I made that my priority. So it’s like the reining is going to come in second. So if there is any moment, like a conflict of which horse show to go to, then that’s going to be what decides it. Now as an interesting side note, I also because I’ve got multiple horses going, I kind of almost have to prioritize also horse by horse. And we’re going to talk about that in a little while. But just to be clear, I’ve got my one thing that if I accomplished it and I was standing in January 2022, I would just be blown away if I achieved it. And that’s the one I’m going to aim for. So as a recap, in case you haven’t listened to the other episodes in the perfect world, I would have shown Willow and earned my silver medal, I would have shown Gabby and won money in reining, and I would ride Presto a lot and show him at least once at a live show. And now those are kind of specific, but what I want to make sure that I do now is start moving that onto my calendar. And I’m going to talk about this from two different sides. I’m going to talk about it from the show side, using Gabby and Willow especially. And then a lot more from the non-show side when I talk about Presto, because his is not as show driven. So it’s almost a little bit easier for me with the horses that have the show driven because I don’t have full control over when those shows are going to be. So I set the goal. But then I have to also play by somebody else’s rules. Which one is–like I got to go to the show that somebody else is putting on. So this is why it’s really important for me to start calendaring. And what I do personally is I do have a little little tiny bit of life that’s outside of the horses. So I check my calendar for 2021 for any hard set, immoveable calendar items. You’d be surprised how much can move on a calendar. So I look around and I go, what is on my calendar? Personal business, anything that is not going to move and and also things I want to do. But those are kind of more movable things. So I kind of write those all on the lists so that I do have my business/horse and–and life, my family life, all kind of in one spot when I’m doing this in January. And for me this year, I see a couple different things floating out there. And one is a trip to Maine that I want to do some time to go visit family, and my son’s wedding. Well, since right now my goal is to put everything on my calendar that I can’t personally move around. What goes on the calendar is my son’s wedding date. And I’m clear that’s going to take priority over a horse show, although I have to hug him. He picked a Wednesday. That is when, you know, you’ve raised a kid around horse shows. No, no. I think he did it for some other reasons. But it’s going to work really nicely for me. So I look at any hard set things on the calendar in any area of my life and those go on there. I personally use Google Calendar because you can make multiple calendars. So I have an entire calendar that I can overlay or uncheck the box of. And I’ve got all these horse shows that are on this Google calendar, on a secondary Google calendar. And that makes it pretty sweet because then I can kind of see through all the different dates because it’s not uncommon for me to have two or three or four shows that are possible to choose from in one single weekend. So the two horses that I have that have really heavy show goals, I start looking those up. One of the reasons why people a lot of times are like, I want to–I want to book a clinic with you, I want to book a clinic with you. Here it is January 2021, and I don’t have any clinic dates up. One of the reasons for that is because I’m always waiting to see what the horse show dates are going to be. It’s also the reason why if you have ever looked at my clinic calendar, I do a lot, if not all of my clinics in the middle of the week, like on a Tuesday, Wednesday, because my weekends are a lot of time spent at horse shows. So with these horses I start looking–I’ve got Gabby and I’ve got Willow. And because it’s easier for me, because I’ve been in the reining world for a long time, I reach out and grab the show dates, which are now published for the reining shows that I would go to, and those I put them on the calendar. So May 7-9, June 5, 6– 4, 5, 6, July 9, 10, 11, August 6, 7, 8. Those go on the calendar and I know that those are reining shows. And so Gabby’s schedule jumps into visibility pretty quickly because that’s a world I’ve been in a lot. And also remember that, like, Willow’s secondary goal is reining, so I actually have a little, like, mental note that like I’m kind of like, oh, this is like double benefit when I write these down because both horses could end up going to them.

Stacy Westfall: [00:11:43] And so those are all on the calendar. Now, when I do end up looking up all of the dressage shows, I am not afraid on my calendar of possibilities to write down multiple shows on the same weekend, because you never know. Like if I have a year like last year where Gabby got sore and didn’t get shown all of a sudden when, you know, one horse is not being ridden for a few months, all of a sudden it opens up some other dates. So I put a crazy number of show dates and possibilities on my calendar and then I start penciling in my must-go-to because if I want to say earn my silver medal, I’m going to need to schedule–I’ll probably schedule three to four times the number of shows that it could potentially take me to earn those. I’m getting a little ahead of myself. But, basically, I kind of sort of want to avoid showing multiple shows at different locations on the same weekend, because I’ve actually done that before. It’s not 100% off the table. In 2019, when I was showing Willow and wanting to do so much and earn my bronze medal and all that stuff I–the most I did was one weekend I showed 3 different disciplines at 2 different locations on 2 different horses. It was insane. So it’s not completely off the table, but it’s not my first choice. So in my perfect world, which is what I’m writing down right now, I pencil in the 4 reining weekends, and that makes me happy because now I feel like I’ve made some decisions. And I also realized that because I don’t know that much about showing Gabby in reining because it’ll be the first year that she’s spent showing in reining. So I’m going to reevaluate when I get to like June or July. So I haven’t penciled in the end of the year. I don’t feel the pressure to start deciding on the Quarter Horse Congress or any big year-end shows or anything like that, because I’m going to wait until later into the year. And that is true even in a year when we’re not thinking about coronavirus or any of those other things. So I’m just going to be happy that I’ve scheduled myself out through about August. And basically, remember, I’m trying not to accidentally block myself out with one show versus another. I’m trying to look at it all as much as I can. So–so the 4 shows kind of actually clear up most of what I’m doing with Gabby. And then I start looking at Willow and I research all the different shows that I could go to to qualify for my silver medal scores. And so I need to show her basically in 4 classes, successfully getting scores above a certain number. But–that I’m going to allow myself–so technically I could show her, you know, twice on a Saturday and twice on a Sunday, and that’s like 4 different classes. But I know better than to think that my odds of, like, winning and getting all qualifying and doing all that, like that’s–it’s just–I’m not going to aim for that. So I’m going to, at minimum, pencil in 4 different weekends of shows and then I’m going to have a reevaluation period. And I’ll have all those shows further out past that kind of schedule, those possibilities. And so I start looking around. I look on the USDA website and I see that in January there’s a show six and a half hours away in the snowbelt in February, again, same locations, six and a half hours away in the snowbelt. In March there’s two shows that are two hours away. And then in April, again, I’ve got a couple different shows on a couple different weekends, both within two hours. And then in May, I have to remember that there is a reining show booked, but thankfully there’s another dressage show within two hours. So just by looking at the calendar and the fact that I’ve done showing over a lot of different years, I can already see that even though I could push hard and go to the January/February shows that are six and a half hours away and in the snowbelt, I can already feel that I don’t really want to do that. So that starts to–I’m starting to see that there are enough shows in March, April, and May that I can actually stack up. What did I just say….there’s at least–there’s four or five shows in that time frame that don’t conflict with my reining show. And of course, I’ve still got like June, July, and on. So I’m already able to say I’m going to skip the January/February, but I’m going to go–I’m going to pencil in the March, April, May shows and kind of start to aim for those. And so this is what it looks like when I’m over here trying to set these big goals with my horses. But also remember that really the biggest one for me is what I talked about in last week’s podcast. The relationship, the daily care, the regular riding that like, you know, everything that I schedule on my calendar for these big show goals are just helping me understand what I want to work on on a weekly basis. And again, I talked about it in last week’s podcast. If a horse gets hurt, yes, it’s going to take away from something like earning my silver medal or earning money on Gabby and reining–with Gabby and reining. But, you know, it’s not going–I can do both. I can set the big goal and still value the relationship. So I need all these immoveable, slightly out of my control. I can’t be like, well, you know, it’d be better if I could go to a show on, you know, this date. I’ve got to look around and I’m at the mercy of the shows that are around me. If I–if I want to put the limit of, like, 6 hours or less of travel, you know, so I kind of have these goals like that. So I want to look at the calendar ahead of time, because then when I go ahead and book my trip to Maine, I don’t have to accidentally learn that that same time frame is when there’s a really big show that could have been, you know, the one that really helped me get there. Because there’s lots of other time slots left, even though it doesn’t sound like it when I’m reading my calendar to you. So when I put these show dates on, you can really start to see the SMART goals come to life. You can see the specific, measurable, actionable, relevant to my year-end goal time bound, you can start to really see that happen.

Stacy Westfall: [00:18:56] Now, I think that when you look at a horse like Presto, it might be tempting to think that it’s not, as you know, scheduled or as important or as specific or measurable or relevant or time bound or some of these SMART things. But when I look at Presto, I actually I keep a calendar on my wall where I write down riding the horses–and every day. So if I ride the horse, their name goes on the calendar, and if I’m riding them on the trails and I want to track how far, then I write down how many miles I went. So depending on what I’m tracking, but they get written down there. So I am tracking the–that daily stuff that I say, the relationship stuff, I’m–I’m not tracking the feeding because I kind of know if I fed them twice a day. But I’m tracking the riding and I’m tracking those little–those little relationship-building things. But I can also go ahead and count with Presto, I can make that count as his specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, time bound things. So when I look at Presto, my two big top goals, I read a lot of goals in the last podcast. My two big ones for him were show at a live dressage show and trail ride. And so I’m actually going to be pretty flexible about when and where I show him. So for right now, it’s January. I’m not even asking myself the question which shows for him. I won’t even look about it because it’s because I only want to go to one show and he’s never been there. I’m completely fine with not even trying to look at what that show would be until I hit June or July, because there will be a lot of other show opportunities in the second half of the year. But even though the showing of him is a big goal and I’m kind of pushing it out there, I have it by the end of the year. So that leaves me a lot of flexibility. So I’m fine with putting it off for the first six months, but that doesn’t mean that I want to just leave him alone for the next six months. So it still comes back to my goal with him is going to be ride him 4-6 times a week. And then I’m also because of that trail riding goal, I’m also going to look back to a goal I had before with Willow. I’m going to nearly copy a goal that I had for Willow in 2017. So in 2017 with Willow, my goal with her was to ride her every day out on the trails if it was safe. So if it was really muddy or lightning or down pouring rain or icy snowy, I didn’t ride out on the trails. But every day that it was safe I rode her on the trails. So I layered that base amount of work, like for Presto I just said 4-6 times a week. I layered that like, I want to ride you 4-6 times a week as my baseline. I layered that with, and every single time it can be on the trail. That’s where you’re going to be doing it, and that’s what I’m going to do with Presto again this year. Because he–remember last year, my goal was to just be able to trail ride him, just get him out there. And so I think that what Presto mostly needs to reach, that end goal of being able to go to just the one show, is actually just a lot of hours in the saddle, just a lot of life experience. And I think we can do that going up and down the trail. And I think that the trail and the hills are going to strengthen him both physically and mentally. And so even though to someone watching, it might look like I’m just trail riding a lot, I’m actually reaching a lot of specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, time bound goals, even with Presto.

Stacy Westfall: [00:22:52] So I hope this episode clears up a little bit of why I am so serious about my January goal setting. One of the reasons is because I’m setting goals with the horses and the calendaring and the overlaying especially of multiple disciplines and multiple horses in multiple disciplines. I really need to see those immovable blocks on my calendar as soon as possible because I’ve got three horses, show goals, family commitments, a business that I actually run over here, and I really see this huge benefit to getting all these big rocks, these big things on my calendar as soon as I can. Because then I can start moving around some of those things that are a little bit more within my control, like when I’m going to put my travel to Maine and when I’m going to visit family and when I’m going to book my clinics and those different things. Those can start to go on the calendar. But I want to it all. I want to do it all. I want to do it all. So that requires a fairly intense, information gathering January for me. So I hope you found that helpful. If you want to know how to reach for a bunch of things all at the same time without losing your mind, combine what I talked about in the last three podcasts, and I’m telling you, it’s amazing. Thanks for listening and I will talk to you again in the next episode.

Announcer: [00:24:22] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

Links mentioned in podcast:

Episode 112: Can you have relationship AND results with your horse?

Episode 111: 3 reasons you’re afraid to set big goals with your horse


  1. Dog Boarding on March 29, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Hello! Thank you for such invaluable information that you share absolutely free. It seems to me that your website is really a godsend for those people who want to take care of horses and engage in equestrian sports on a serious basis. I am not looking forward to your new podcasts and new articles. I want to add a few more words about the topic of this podcast. Of course, you need to set big goals for yourself, but it is even more important to break these goals into small steps, so it will be easier to move towards the main goal, this has been tested on our own experience.

  2. Cat Nihem on February 13, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I LOVE your podcast on planning your horse related goals. My primary goal for 2021 is to compete in the A/As in Katy, Texas. But I find it is much easier for me to break it into smaller action steps. And I accomplish it more effectively with a journal. Happy to send you a complimentary one to try out??

  3. Kailey Mentink on January 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    I totally agree that there is so much power in “just trail riding”. My goal with my horse is to not get bucked off so much this year! … Well, that and a few other goals. 🙂 thanks so much for the podcast!

  4. Laurie on January 17, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    My goals are not near as grand as yours, but one of my main goals with my mare is to compete in something. I have done a lot of ground work with her and have been working through your steering course. Can you recommend an online show that would be great for a beginner. I am an older woman who has never shown before. My mare is a Paso Fino.

  5. Lori Bradley on January 13, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    All I could pull out of this episode is your travel to Maine! For selfish reasons, I hope travel opens up b/w USA/CAN. Best of luck with your goals this coming year! You e given me so much material to bring to my barn and spread to our barn family. Your fan from beautiful Prince Edward Island ?

Leave a Comment

Get the free printable guide

    Download now. Unsubscribe at anytime.