How to add a little “umph” to your Training


I heard a catchy phrase today and thought, “wow, that’s cute.”

When you add a little “umph” to your “try”, you get your Triumph.

That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Sometimes all it takes is a little “umph” – figuratively and literally adding a pep in your step. This is a good way to supercharge your success when training your horse and help you reach your goals.

So, what does this extra “UMPH” look like?

  • Spending an extra 15 minutes just hanging out with your horse?
  • Adding groundwork before you saddle up and go riding?
  • Changing up your training routine with new games?
  • Replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones?
  • Working…(you fill in the blank here)?
  • …you got the point!

How will you try to put a little “umph” in your next session with your horse?

Now let’s talk a bit about goals.

Goals. I’ve got them. You’ve got them. Some goals are big, and some are small. Some are short-term, and some are long-term.

Some you’ve conquered, and others have conquered you.

Sometimes you don’t achieve your goals because you may not have any idea where to start, or you’re not sure where you want to end.

What if you had a smarter way to achieve your goals?

Aha, here is my science geek side…

I like Acronyms.

So, here is one for you to remember when training your horse – S.M.A.R.T.

I was taught this a few years ago and I still use it myself and teach it to my students.

S = Specific – Have clearly defined and detailed goals

M = Measurable – Have goals that you can easily determine when they’ve been accomplished

A = Attainable – Have goals that you can accomplish with hard work and training as opposed something you can only accomplish with a genie, wishing it so. Hahaha. Something you know you can accomplish.

R = Relevant – Have goals that align with other areas in your life.

T = Time-based – Have goals that are linked to a certain time frame.

  • Short-term goals should be achieved in about 1-4 weeks, while long-term goals should be achieved in a few months to one year
  • Set your short-term goals first. Setting several consecutive short-term goals will help you achieve your long-term goals

There it is. A quick, easy to remember acronym when training.

This is a good way to set and accomplish your goals. It has always worked for me.

According to my research, S.M.A.R.T. goals are scientifically proven to help people set and achieve their goals. It is an organized way that helps you with small wins all the way up to your main goal. This not only helps you achieve your goals quicker, but it also helps you to maintain your goals longer.

It also helps to have a plan on how you will get from Point A, where you are now, to Point B, where you want to be.

So, how will you achieve your long-term goal? What are your short-term goals?

Here is an example of how I used this recently…

With Apollo’s move to a new boarding facility, there was a major break in our relationship, as I discussed in my ”Listening to Advice” blog.

The main reason for the break in the relationship was basically a break in trust.

I wasn’t sure how the transition would work out due to many factors:

  • Apollo had just lost his father and was now alone for the first time in his life
  • This would be the first time he was trailered by himself
  • This would be the first time he was in a new environment by himself
  • He always looked to his father, Jazz, for guidance and always followed his lead
  • This would be the first time he wasn’t in a herd
  • He was being taken away from his other horse friends
  • He was being taken away from a place he knew was safe

I was the “bad guy” for all of the reasons above, but it was unavoidable. However, Apollo still saw me as the reason he was now unhappy.

Because of this break he no longer trusted me, he no longer wanted to be near me, he no longer would listen to anything I asked, and he wouldn’t even whinny to me.

It broke my heart because I only want the best for him and now, we had to start at the beginning again.

But I knew we could get back what we had, I just had to figure out how.

So, my long-term goal was to get him to trust me again and to get back to the loving and connected relationship we had had previously.

Here was my S.M.A.R.T. plan:

S – Specific – The first short-term goal was to go out to see him daily and work slowly on gaining the trust back. Specifically, just hanging out with him as long as I could until he began to reconnect with me. I also had specific follow-up goals after hanging out. But I had to see a measurable change before moving on to the next short-term goal.

M – Measurable – I would know that he was starting to reconnect when he would let me groom him, when he chose to be close to me, when he would come to the gate to greet me, and when he whinnied to me as I drove up.

A – Attainable – I used the same steps with Apollo that I teach in my 3 C’s of Horsemanship class. These are proven steps that have worked for me in the past with every horse I’ve trained. So, I knew the short-term goals would be attainable.

R – Relevant – These goals aligned with how I felt about Apollo and how much I wanted him to be happy as well. It wasn’t just about me, but about Apollo’s health and welfare too.

T – Time-Based – Even though I didn’t have a time deadline, so to speak, I knew that I would allow Apollo to take as long as he needed to get calm and relaxed again. I knew it would take whatever time it took to gain his trust back. And I was willing to work my goals into Apollo’s timeline and go slow.

One month later, not only did I reconnect again with Apollo like before the move, but our relationship has become even closer and we’ve grown stronger as a team.

And something surprising happened!

Apollo now has really come into his own. Even though he is 29 years old, he is a different horse.

  • Before he used to look to Jazz for guidance on almost everything. Now, he is confident and sure of himself when we go out.
  • Before he didn’t like doing anything without Jazz. Now, he is liking getting out and exploring on his own with me.
  • Before he would spook at a plastic bag blowing by on the ground. Now, he is no longer a “scaredy cat” about anything. He doesn’t spook anymore and is very brave.
  • Before he would hide behind Jazz if there was something new around or we did something new. Now, he is calm and self-assured in his new environment and around new experiences. His body language is even different. He is much more confident and surer of himself.
  • Before, he was the instigator around other horses and would pick fights. Now, he is sweet with other horses and even enjoys their company.

He has always been intelligent, kind, loving, and respectful to me. But now he is a totally different horse with me too…in how he carries himself and how he reacts. He is so much more than he was before the move.

Now that his father, Jazz, is no longer here, I think Apollo has taken Jazz’s place in the herd and has taken on his personality traits. After all, he is Jazz’s biological son.

He has grown into a leader.

It’s beautiful to see how he’s “grown up” and how much he emulates his father now. And I think he even knows that he has become a new horse and is proud of himself. That’s what it looks like in his body language.

He’s accomplished quite a lot in the past month.

Momma is definitely proud of him and I’m happy he’s happy again.

So, how will you add a little more “UMPH” to your training?

Please let me know in the comments section.

Please Share

  • Thankyou Teddie…good lesson today. The acronyms and positive and relevant ideas were appreciated. As always you have a way to bring into view a gem of information …and how to help us help them . Have a great day! Congrats Mama🤩🥇😊

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