Making and Breaking Goals

Author of ‘The Menopausal 50cm Eventer’ shares her latest blog on jumping, her dressage quest and goal setting for 2022.

‘OMG you got eight 10’s’ my friend said with an excited squeal.

‘What?’ I asked confused…

‘You got eight 10’s’ she repeated….. ‘In your dressage test! That’s amazing’ 

Suddenly I understood... ‘NO!   I got TENSE written 8 times… 8 bloody times on my sheet!’ 

‘Ahhhh’ she said sympathetically and quietly topped up my wine.


My Jump to Stressage

Yes last year we re-entered the world of stressage - set ourselves some prelim dressage goals – less likely to break a bone than the jumping thing surely - only it turns out your self-esteem can be brutally beaten to a mushy pulp by your inability to ride a circle or your horse engage a single stomach muscle.  

Jumping was starting to look very attractive.

This is exactly why we set goals – they make us persevere – so we continued to school even with horsey tantrums and human tears – we swapped the wine for Ovaltine to get up early on a Sunday morning and the scores slowly improved – and in the dizzy excitement of our whopping 65% score, we even signed up for a British Dressage Camp Day!  

This stressage wasn’t too bad after all.

Only Mr Fox decided otherwise – he rocked up lame and our dressage dreams temporarily went on lockdown. He’s currently looking for funding for a charity called ‘Horses Against Flatwork’.


  We have all been there.
We set our goals, plan them out step by step and visualise crossing the finishing line with flags flying and people cheering. Only the reality feels more like being a contestant on Ninja Warrior where horses and life throw everything at us as we run through the assault course of lameness, pandemics and good old British weather. 

And here’s a question - where the hell does the Horsey Mojo disappear to? Many horsey folks seem to be searching for it desperately at the moment.

Is it sunning itself in Ibiza whilst we shovel horse shit in the rain and cold? Is it hiding at the bottom of a bottle of wine or a crisp packet – I am personally leading this forensic investigation.

In the dark mornings and the cold evenings it’s so easy to say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ and go home to Netflix.


This may all be sounding a bit Scottish doom and gloom and yet this is exactly why we need goals. 
What else is going to keep us going on the roller coaster of life?
We learn by doing – we gain confidence by trial and error and pushing on the walls of our comfort zone. I’m a self-confessed procrastinator– why do today what I can put off until tomorrow – goals get me going and keep me going when that bottle of 19 Crimes is singing my name. 


When it comes to riding goals and habits I love thinking about them from three perspectives – each one equally important.

  • The technical side of riding
  • The physical side of riding & fitness of the rider
  • The emotional and mental side of riding

What are your goals for this year? 
Many of my friends are aiming for their first BE80 – a fantastic goal. I’m calling my technical goal BD70 – the challenge of achieving a prelim score in the 70’s by the end of the year – yikes!!

Does someone want to tell Mr Fox for me? 

  My physical goal is to run the Aviemore half-marathon again in October and to return to doing Activate Your Seat Bungee three times a week.

And finally the most challenging is the emotional and mental goal - to start being more kind to myself in my own head and to say one nice thing to myself every day. This will be a stretch.

So my goals are set for the year – whoop! But during our stressage training last year I was reminded of something very important. 

Mr Fox and I were having regular domestics in our schooling sessions as I determinedly focused on achieving our goals. My friend Jennifer was often there with her gorgeous boy McKenzie – patiently walking him round after long months of box rest.  

Jennifer had also had her dressage goals – only having potentially faced every horse owners worst fear, her goal was to now have her horse healthy and sound again. 

She watched our tantrums and gently asked us what was up. I explained about our goals and she said ‘surely it’s meant to be fun?’ Jennifer reminded me of a very important question – the ‘why?’ question - why do we love horses and our sport?  

Never lose sight of your answer– this experience reminded me that above everything else it’s about having fun and continuing to learn with my boy. This has been the foundation of my goals for this year – to Keep Going – Keep Learning and most of all Keep Having Fun.

Thank you to Helen for sharing her thoughts. 

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