For as long as I can remember, I've been extremely goal-orientated. Goals are the center of my universe and keep things in balance, ensuring I am always surging forward toward the finish line. It's not uncommon for me to have several goals in play at once, looking toward the next set of achievements before others are done. While this may be considered commendable, it often results in unrealistic goal setting and excessive room for disappointment when things aren't achieved.
On the contrary, when goals make up the balance of your life it is easy to set goals without thinking them through, and this is something I tend to do often. It's simple to be caught up in what you feel you 'should' be doing without paying much attention. I hear it often from friends and those around my circle that they feel their horse 'should' be at a certain level or height, or 'should' be capable of something due to their age/how often they ride/etc, and much the same I feel as though I 'should' be doing certain things with my horses - showing, showing at a specific level, schooling more often, schooling certain things, and the list goes on. It's troublesome to acknowledge that like anything in nature, growth rates vary and no two things develop at identical rates. A bump will always occur in one or both paths; a temporary detour put in place that alters the path but not the destination.
I strongly believe it is healthy - crucial even - to be actively setting goals, but with that I think we need to remain mindful that things may change - and they're allowed to, as well as attempting to complete a goal for sake of striking it off a list when we aren't prepared isn't necessarily fair. I'm a very methodical person and I refuse to do something if I don't feel prepared, yet when it comes to goals my desire to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with completing something, no matter how well it was completed, seems to trump all else. My recent rides have helped jumble things back into place and has completely altered my prospective on life as a result, and I finally feel mentally clear when it comes to the immediate future with my horses. It's truly remarkable what 3 weeks out of the arena can do for you, though that's not to say I haven't been schooling (flatwork) a little bit here and there during my (almost) daily bareback adventures throughout the field and trails on our property. Due to these recent revelations, I have concluded I am pushing all thoughts of showing in July and most of August out of my brain. Amazingly enough since I came to this conclusion, I have felt at such ease - while i'm not hangin' up my spurs to become a pleasure-hacker/trail rider just yet, the emotions I have been feeling since initially being limited to riding in the field due to wet arena footing is insurmountable in comparison to anything I have felt after a schooling ride in the ring as of late - maybe even ever.
At this point I will likely take advantage of 1 - 4 schooling opportunities that are spread between August & October and given that our winters are long and tiresome; spent going 'round and 'round in an indoor for upwards of 7 months, I am taking as much time as possible to smell the roses, enjoy my horse and roll with the changing tides.