I thought a great deal about my training tip and what would be the one thing, if I wrote nothing else, that I would want to share with every rider. I came across an article posted on Dressage Training TV entitled “What Everyone Should Know About Training Horses” by Peter Dove. The article covered some key considerations that I would like to summarize for you.
First, consider how uneasy you feel as you are learning a new skill, how different muscles are used and how the stress makes you feel. Now consider your horse, who feels the same way, but without understanding the reason or purpose. He is just supposed to submit, and when he is confused, how do we respond? How do we interpret his behavior? He does not need more pressure; he needs assurance that you appreciate the situation and will patiently work through this.
“In the end we must learn to train the horse according to his needs and level, rather than our own personal goals and time lines.”
Secondly, when you feel your horse resisting, this may be a time to step back and reinforce the skills that prepared the horse for this step. Take him from a place of comfort and security. Evaluate if your timetable and this horse’s abilities and temperament are in alignment.
Don Murphy best describes the process. “In this instant gratification world we live in today, we all need to remember that small steps lead to big results.” He is concerned about trainers and riders pushing their horses beyond their ability to comply for a variety of reasons including physical ability, skills, and temperament.
“If you improve your horse 1% a day, then in 100 days you’ll have 100% better horse.”
Have a plan. You should always be very intentional about your training program, including identifying the skills being taught and the benchmarks along the way to measure success.
Pay attention. How your horse responds to your cues and training will let you know if he is really ready for the next step.
Take small steps. You will achieve more if you break down the goal into smaller tasks. You will also maintain the trust of your horse.
What we want and what the horse cab do can be two different things so we need to be willing to change our direction or timeline for the horse.
“This is more about your relationship with your horse and reaching your goals together.”