Are You Making it Harder for Your Horses to Succeed by Thinking Small?

When speaking of young horses, especially talented or sensitive young horses, we need to cultivate a long term plan for their training. 

I am so tired of seeing riders and trainers just too worried about how the horses are going and if they are ready for the horse show, rather than truly looking at the whole horse’s education.

Is he learning to deal with stressful situations correctly?
Does he hack out?
Is he able to jump around a small grid and use himself differently than from his normal job?

The other side of this, that I would like to see change, is that most horses go in the same bridle type (crank cavason and flash).

While there is nothing wrong with this type and we use it often at the school, some horses will be more comfortable in a drop, or a figure 8, or even no cavason at all for a time. 

All of this needs to be possible.

Also, there is nothing wrong with training aids, such as draw and side reins. If it helps the horse learn, then great!

I hate to see a horse not stretching properly or hauling the rider around, because he is chased off his balance in an effort to build his “talent ” and gait. 

Young horses and all horses need time and variety with an eye on the principals.

Can you truly answer yes to these questions:

  1. Are they soft to the hand and leg, not just flexible? 
  2. Do they respond in a relaxed way to pressure? 
  3. Are they able to be ridden on the buckle, walk, trot, and canter, as well as fully collected? 

If the horse is not able to do his work- all of his work- off the seat and leg, then there will be no purpose or gain in moving on with his training.

One day you won’t have strong enough aids to get him through it all.He needs to learn to be independent and confident. That’s how he will become the successful show horse everyone admires. 

Function, understanding and biomechanical correctness first…..then skill sets and job-specific needs.

Soundness, longevity and usefulness in the horse will follow. 

Written By: Emily Abbate, Director of Programs

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