When it comes to being ready for training your horse, you probably fall into one of two categories. The first one is filled with riders who genuinely believe they can do anything. And that they’ll probably be successful. The second is the riders who really weigh up every pros and cons before making a decision. And they often second guess themselves or lack confidence in their abilities.
This is especially true when it comes to actually working with their horse. And the fear is that they will somehow ‘ruin’ or ‘untrain’ their horse.
You Are Already Training Your Horse!
However, I think that it is important to remember that you are ALWAYS training your horse. Which really makes the question of it you’re ready for it, redundant! Each time you interact together, there is either the acceptance of the behaviour, or correction of the behaviour. This is training. So, if we assume for a second that you are, right now, already training your horse, what can you begin doing today to help you get better results?
This is the exact reason why, in riding schools or yards working with more inexperienced riders, the horses and ponies often need to be ‘re-tuned’. Basically, more experienced and knowledgeable riders will regularly ride that horse and make sure that the basic fundamentals of the training are still in place and present.
And this might be the very challenge, you’re experiencing now – you don’t have anyone to do the ‘re-tuning’ for you. It’s just you and your horse – and you’re doing all of the training.
And that can seem very daunting. But it is ‘doable’; if you are willing to follow a few simple guidelines that will help transform you from just a ‘rider’ (or a passenger), into your horse’s trainer. And I believe that your attitude to this is what really decides if you’re ready for training your horse – or not!
Observation & Understanding
Have you ever been working with your horse and thought something along the lines of “I wish he could just tell me what he doesn’t understand?” Believe it or not, your horse is really trying to. It’s just up to you, as the person responsible for training your horse, to notice it. Developing a keen sense of observation and really understanding horse behavior (and more specifically, your horse’s behaviour, will help you get those answers.
Observe your horse’s responses. Notice those tiny signs of change; in tension levels or relaxation, rhythm, or suppleness initially. Then adapt your aids and approach. It’s like learning a secret language between you and your horse. And, newsflash, you can begin working on improving this today :)
Master Your Aids
You have a secret power as a rider: your aids! Think of them as your superpowers—your legs, seat, hands, voice, weight, and even your thoughts. Your aids can be blended in numerous different ways. And it’s up to you to figure out what combination your horse responds to and understands.
The great news is that you don’t have to be the world’s greatest rider to improve your aids. You can start working on this today when on the ground beside your horse or on the lunge.
Both will positively impact your aids in the saddle as well :) And help your horse to better understand your unique style and communication. Being ready for training your horse requires you to find out more and go deeper. How can you develop your aids today?
Timing & Feel
Once you have developed a fair understanding and coordination of your aids, it’s time to work on both your timing and feel. This will allow you to unlock a whole new level of communication with your horse. However, it does require you to be pretty independent with your aids, your balance, position, and posture.
It’s all about asking for responses at the perfect moment (without having to overanalyze the moment) and being able to tune into your horse’s movements and energy.
Every rider needs problem-solving skills, and you’re no exception. And once you feel that you’re ready for training your horse, you will encounter behavioral puzzles or training roadblocks. Rather than getting flustered, understand that this is completely normal and just needs to be ‘figured out’.
By paying attention to your horse and really getting to know both him and your abilities, you will soon be able to uncover the key issues holding you back.
And the more you understand basic training, the more you will develop the ability to apply some different, and maybe even creative solutions to keep your horse training moving forward. This can also be a great opportunity to have a community of online or in-person equestrians, some of who will hopefully be more experienced than you, to turn to for help.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Keep growing your skills as a rider and a horse trainer. Horse riding is never a ‘done’ thing. In fact, as a rider and trainer, the learning never ends. Stay curious! Try out new training techniques, attend clinics or workshops, and be open to different approaches.
The more tools you have in your riding toolbox, the more approaches you can take when working with your horse, and positively training your horse alone.
Ready for Training Your Horse
So, after hearing all of this information, I’m pretty sure that you’ll agree that while training your horse alone might not be ‘easy’… It is definitely doable. Especially if you are consistent, patient, and open to learning new things about yourself and your horse.
And the great news is that once you get started, it actually becomes less daunting over time. And once you get a few successes under your belt, your confidence in your own training abilities will grow – and this will have a positive effect on everything else. Including your horse.
- Having More Success when Training Your Horse Alone
- Training Your Horse Without a Horse Arena or Flat Space
- Strategically Using Your Time when Training or Retraining Your Horse
- 5 Reasons You’re Stuck when Training or Retraining Your Horse