This week I received my Long Term Training Plan back from the USEF. For those of you that don’t know about this program yet; the United States Equestrian Federation is trying to assist committed junior and young riders to achieve their long term goals in our sport. They have knowledge and resources to help riders to focus, plan, gain knowledge and guidance. The monitored program for now is limited by invitation to the top three junior and top three young riders in the country. There is a self-monitored version as well. Furthermore, I today would advise and direct any one to follow the same steps and create your own similar plan. Whether it is on USEF paper or not the theory to help your success is universal.
The first step for the plan is to set realistic goals. What is a realistic goal? Well if you are riding first level this year it might be unrealistic and even undesirable, for example to jump to fourth next year. Not only will you be disheartened if you fail to achieve the goal, but you may fail to see how great riding a very successful second is because of this. Second, set specific time limits. You can make one week goals, one month goals, three month goals, one year goals, and even very long term goals like three or five years. First start with where you want to be in those time frames. When I wrote mine I started with the farthest time period and worked in. For example, I want to make a respectable run for the 2016 Olympics. So in 2016 I had to be riding and competing GP. To be viable as a possible choice I would have to do respectably in 2015 at the Pan Am games, that meant in 2014 Brentina cup and competing Intermediare. Finally, in working backward that meant this year competing in Young riders.
The next step was to speak to my coach about the factors necessary to achieve these goals. First, is my horse capable of riding at these levels? I am lucky enough that he is. My only concern is his age. He is 14 this year. So for him to be 17 at the Olympics is asking a bit much. However, I can increase the probability of this by maximizing on not only treatment but prevention (or delaying) of many of the old age issues of horses. This meant looking at diet, medical treatments like regular massage, chiropractic and other treatments not as merely a response to issues, but for regular care. The next question was my training schedule. Is this a feasible track for me? Jeremy said yes but that I had outside issues I could work on or build to help increase the likelihood. I have had to increase my outside workouts. I started lifting weights, and I have become a queen of planks to develop my core.
Next, what extra training can I get above and beyond my lessons? I began looking for opportunities that were near, or funded by foundation grants. I apply for everything I can in order to increase my knowledge, to meet other young people like me who can share their information with me. I applied this year for the International Dream Riders program. Every day I try to visualize, the way Dr. Susser taught me to see myself receiving notification that I have been awarded that opportunity. I reapplied to EDAP. I asked my big sis Genay Vaughn to let me stay at her house so I could audit the Jan Ebeling clinic.
Next, I had to break down the goals. If I wanted to be competitive at young riders this year, what did I need to work on? So then with my trainer I reviewed Sjapoer and my weaknesses and strengths. He has amazing changes and power. We designed my training program around those things. Then each week when we work on lessons, I know what we are doing and why. It keeps me focused and helps me to push myself when I know the goal. You can see what you want and realize that each day is a step closer to those goals. Finally, having a short and long term plain with defined attainable goals gives you a list with milestones to mark off. This reinforces what you have achieved and builds a cycle of success. So I say get out some paper and start on your plan today!