We all have riding aspirations. Whether that is to simply be able to ride without feeling sore the next day, having the confidence to go to pleasure rides with friends, being the best rider you can be, getting out and about at shows, or competing to the highest level possible.

To many of us, it seems that we can never reach that aspiration. While other riders around you seem to be reaching their dreams, smashing goals, in the limelight, or simply just making progress? 

Why do some riders seem to reach their aspirations and others don’t? It’s not the aspirations that are different. It’s the way we view and approach them.

The Difference between Riding Aspirations and Goals

When you look at the meaning definitions it isn’t clear cut but breaking the words down can help give you a clear difference:

  • GOAL:  The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
  • ASPIRATION: A hope or ambition of achieving something. 

Similar in that both describe a future state but different in that Goals are objective and measurable such as winning a competition, whereas Aspirations are subjective, unmeasurable, and intangible such as an emotion or feeling. 

Using the examples above. Your aspiration may be to be a confident rider or compete to the highest level. You can’t measure confidence. It is personal to you. Only you know when you have achieved it. Competing at the highest level is also subjective to what you consider to be the highest level. Not other riders’ perception of what count’s as a high level. It does not necessarily mean Grand Prix or International.


Imagine your tack room is a mess, you set yourself a goal to tidy it. 

If you summon the energy to tidy it, you have a clean tack room – for now. But, if you maintain the same sloppy habits that led to the messy tack room then it will soon be a total mess again. You are left chasing the same outcome because you never changed the system behind it. You treated a symptom without addressing the cause.

Horse Rider Performance

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”.

Henry Ford

The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” When you reach that singular goal you realise you are not happy. So, you move your focus to your next goal.

  • Goal: Have the confidence to go toA‘ pleasure ride, to go toA‘ show, to win ‘A‘ competition. A specific measurable goal with ‘A‘ being singular.

This creates a “yo-yo” effect, much like dieting. Riders work hard for months but as soon as they achieve that goal, or fail, they stop. There is no longer anything to motivate them. This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing reaching their goals, or not.

Goals also create an “either-or” conflict: Either you achieve your goal and are successful, or you fail, and you’re a disappointment. Whereas you actually become one step close to your riding aspiration, whether you fail or succeed at that goal.

True long-term thinking is not about any single accomplishment, a goal. It’s about the journey of constant refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it’s your commitment to the approach that will determine your success.

Aspirations: Go on ‘many‘ pleasure rides, to ‘regularly‘ attend shows, to win at ‘various‘ competitions. A future state of being, as in Plural many times.

Long-Term Approach Gets Results!

As a Rider Performance Coach, I speak with so many riders that are so focused on achieving a particular goal (short term) rather than the aspiration (long term) that they do not realise that achieving that one goal will only affect them positively momentarily. After the rider has achieved that singular goal, then what? All that hard work that you put in just disappears and you return to how you once were? The rider returns to feeling the aches and pains, loses their confidence, stops going to shows, or doesn’t manage to go to the next level.

The difference between riders that win, who seem confident, or have a better seat and position is they are constantly learning, adapting, and taking action to reach that aspiration.

If you are a rider who wants to reach your riding aspiration you must accept that it is a journey. Every goal you reach, whether you fail or succeed is a stepping stone. that will bring you one step closer to your riding aspiration.

Set goals, but understand them as a stepping stone that will bring you one step closer. That singular goal does not make you successful or a failure but it does help you progress to where you want to be.

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