Training horses or riders is a progression of building blocks. The basic building blocks need to be in place before further learning can take place. For example, if you are taught how to do simple math (3+2) and then immediately after asked to do complex calculus, you would get so flustered and confused that no learning could take place after. If horses are unsure or uncomfortable with basics like leading or groundwork, I work with the horse until those are solid. Then we progress from there, at the horse’s pace. Just like humans, horses learn at different paces and can easily get confused if pushed too fast or too far.
When working with riders, either beginners or those with experience, I again make sure the basic building blocks are there. All of my riders learn Equitation. Equitation is the base from which all riding can progress.
Horses love patterns, they love knowing what is coming next and what is expected of them. By being clear, concise and consistent in our cues and actions, our horses can relax and feel more comfortable. By making cues in a systematic way, the rider and the horse will know what is coming next. This allows horses and their riders to be on the same page working together.
Slow it down
It seems that, especially in today’s society, everyone is in a rush and wants things done now. I feel our horses are also getting pushed into this category. One minute we ask our horse for a turn on the haunches and the next, we want a spin, but the spin falls apart because we didn’t spend enough time making sure that the turn on the haunches was 94.7% correct. By taking things slower, our horses can calm down, learn, and perform better.