Teaching the Advanced Work – Without Stress

Over the last few weeks, as we are coming into the full swing of the Wellington, FL winter season, we have been focusing on our mid-level and advanced horses, helping them step up and forward their training. 

We see a lot of overtraining, high stress, drilling, and other offenses, in the name of training and advancement. 

So let’s talk about how best to teach high-level work as quietly, and strangely enough, as quickly as possible. 

I’ll lay this out in a few steps to make it easy to follow. 

1. Pick your point.

Decide clearly, that month, week, or that day, what the goal is.
Are we teaching piaffe (half steps first or some other progression), or maybe working on full pirouettes or improving the zigzags. 

Know what you want to work on and do only that. Warm up, and get to it.
As soon as it’s better than yesterday-  great- put him away. 

Working on too many things in one session can hinder the horses ability to learn new things. 

2. Don’t teach new or try to improve on more than one thing in a succession of days. 

Pick something-  improve it over as many days as needed, and then choose something else. 

As soon as you reach maximum improvement or learning available at this time, leave it, move on, and come back to it when he is stronger or more flexible. 

If you keep this learning on rotations, the horse will stay fresh, become stronger and be happy to keep learning. 

3. Give him a bit more time off than normal.

It sounds so crazy that when we are teaching or trying to get him to build strength for a new skill, that giving him time off would help. But it really does! 

If he is in a 6 day a week program,  give him an extra day off and add a hack day. This works so well because his body needs time to build the muscles and the time for his mind to think about what we are asking. This also helps him feel like he is in this training faze.  Horses dont get enough credit. 

If they learn this pattern- 
New skill -> confirmation in that skill -> intensity in that skill -> repeat
Then he will step up and focus accordingly during each phase. 

He isn’t a robot,  he has emotional responses and we can use that to ours and his advantage. 

Have a plan and make a process- then you’ll create success!

Written by: Emily Abbate, Director of Programs

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