It’s one of those things that, initially, can sound both amazing and terrifying at the same time. Training your own horse. And maybe you have been thinking about undertaking this journey yourself, yet feel a little apprehensive about what’s required. Because let’s face it, it can be a daunting goal to set. Not only do you have to be ‘able’ to do it. You also have to commit to following it through…
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast, I will lay out exactly what you need to be able and ready for if you do decide to train or retrain your horse. To decide if you truly have both the rider and trainer skills to make this work for you both.
1. Basic Independent Aids
Okay, the most obvious – yet often overlooked! Now, I am not suggesting that you are the world’s greatest rider… However, for many ‘newbie’ riders, there can be an all-consuming ‘enthusiasm’ when it comes to what they realistically can do!
I would say a good rule of thumb is that you can ‘hold’ your own posture, position, and balance ‘most’ of the time… And that you can regain any of the above quickly and quietly when you do have a ‘whoops’ moment.
Let’s be honest, having independent aids makes it so much easier for you to communicate. And for your horse to actually understand your communication. This is a huge part of training. If you are still moving your hands when you use your legs. Or you’re losing your balance through transitions or around corners, I would say your aids and basics are in need of a little more attention before you begin working on your horse.
2. Humility, Patience, & Compassion
We are all going to feel frustrated or irritated along the way when it comes to developing ourselves as riders. This can become amplified when we are also training our horses. And there’s nothing wrong with those feelings if, or maybe when, they show up. What is important is how we respond to them.
When you can approach your training ‘challenges’ from a place of compassion and practice patience, it will almost always result in a quicker long-term positive outcome for the situation.
Adding a great big dash of humility in there will also keep you open to the fact that you may not be asking or responding in a way your horse understands. Remember, training is a conversation. It’s a two-way street. It will take both of you being on the same page for it to truly resonate and ‘stick’.
3. Self Awareness
This is being able to catch yourself in a situation and question what you are doing, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. As riders who step into the role of full-time trainer, it can be so easy to just focus on the horse. What the horse needs in their training, and what exercises will help develop the horse.
It’s important to remember that you too are on a journey. You are also learning, developing, and growing as a rider. And your horse’s overall development will be very much tied to your own development as a rider…
Being able to see both perspectives is part of this. And the ability to ‘pause’ for a moment and simply ‘feel’ or ‘experience’ what you are doing is also something we must learn to do. The more self-awareness you can bring to each situation, the better you will understand and ‘feel into’ your horse’s responses. And this is what true ‘training’ is built on…
4. Facilities & Resources
Now, I know the whole topic is ‘rider skills’… However, I honestly feel that ignoring this part of the equation will negate most, if not all, of the above-mentioned aspects. Let’s be frank; you NEED somewhere suitable to actually work your horse. The best riders in the world will become frustrated if they are trying to work their horse in a space that doesn’t facilitate the training.
A ‘flatish’ space with good footing is essential. How big the space is can be debated. Good fitting, comfortable, and safe tack and equipment are also essential. As is time…
I often think that the idea of keeping a horse at home or saving money by boarding at a barn with few facilities can cloud some rider’s judgments. You need the proper tools to train your horse. Facilities and resources (time or money) are part of those ‘tools’. Be realistic and honest with yourself here.
Finally, if you have all of the above in order, you need to make the commitment! It sounds like the easiest thing in the world. And yet, it’s the ability to show up when you don’t feel like it that will often determine your results in the long run!
I would suggest that all riders who are considering ‘training their own horse’ start off with a 3-month or 90-day commitment. This is long enough to see results, but short enough to change track if necessary.
Training alone is not for everyone. It can be hard to continue to show up consistently, especially when things are not going your way! However, it is also part of the journey. Showing up will not only help you to build trust in yourself and confidence in your skills, but it will also allow your horse to begin doing the same. And this is a vital part of the skills necessary for training your own horse.
Seeking Founding Riders…
If you are considering training your horse at home or alone (boarding at a barn, but don’t have a regular coach or trainer), make sure you check out the details of my upcoming brand-new program.
I’m looking for a limited number of riders to work in-depth with me and my team as we go through this program for the first time. Get on the waitlist to be the first to find out all of the information… We start in early September. Join the Waitlist HERE (no obligation to join the program, just be the first to know all of the details :) )