What everyone should remember when training horses
One of the things worth remembering when training your horse, especially if you are learning too, that this is just as strange for him as it is for you. Both horse and rider must learn new neurological patterns and change existing ones. They must both learn new habits and break old ones. The rider has the luxury of both knowing the reason for these changes and has the ability to choose them. The horse on the other hand is simply trying to do what it is being told in an attempt to please the rider; he has no idea why this is happening or why he feels strange. So it is worth remembering that should your horse get confused, or a little tense, or finds something difficult, it’s not a moment for additional pressure or punishment, but some reassurance in recognition of how strange this must be for him and how you appreciate his efforts.
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.
This was made vivid to me when watching Heather Blitz, a Grand Prix student of Mary Wanless, training one of the horses Piaffe. For the benefit of those watching she was explaining what she was thinking and what she was doing. The horse appeared to become a little tense and muddled and of this Heather said “now I would never try to interfere and tell this horse off, or somehow try to pressurise him because I can feel him trying underneath, I can feel him working it out, and I know that this is a process he has to go through”. Sure enough the horse soon began to relax and take better steps.
In general the progression of training should be fairly smooth. If you find yourself hitting a brick wall, getting frustrated or even worse having protracted arguments with your horse, you should step back and do a full review of your skills set and the training program you have for your horse.
In the book Master Dressage 2nd Edition, in the chapter on review, I provide lots of tools for reviewing your progress and making assessments.
How can the book Master Dressage help you?