Tuesday, February 14, 2012


One common 'rule' some trainers seem to set is that a horse must w/t/c on the first ride. Their reasoning being that by doing so you establish the expectations of achieving w/t/c, right off the bat. Fail to do so and you may run into resistance later in asking for, say, the canter, if it was not asked for on the first ride. I feel Pat answers this query aptly here:

To recap:

There are no rules

There are goals, principles, and timelines - the horse is in charge of the latter, the trainer is in charge of the goals

If the horse offers you something - take it!

Slow and right will beat fast and wrong

To further explain what Pat meant:

Any trainer has specific goals in mind as they work with a horse whether that be to have the horse greenbroke or at w/t/c or they intend to develop that horse into a proficient reiner or maybe a jumper. You, the trainer and rider, are in charge of these goals and must possess and seek the right education and knowledge to attain these goals. The horse should always be left in a better state than when one commenced work with that horse and in such a way the goal of always developing the horse to be a better horse - calmer, braver, smarter, more athletic - will be attained.

The horse is in charge of the timeline. The trainer may work with the horse in such a manner as to influence the timeline however the horse is ultimately in control. As this pertains to achieving w/t/c with a horse - the horse is in charge of whether that occurs on Day 1 (ie, the horse offers up w/t/c) or whether it occurs on Day 65 (as an extreme example). It can be detrimental to a horse's training or affect a horse negatively to tell the horse to w/t/c on the first day if that horse is not sufficiently prepared for such. Instead the trainer may wait for the horse to be ready for w/t/c and as a result the end product (ie, the w/t/c) will be a better product. A trainer has to walk the fine line of being effective with a horse and attaining their goals within a reasonable time frame and pushing that horse to progress and improve, while respecting that horse's timeline. A horse should never be intentionally pushed beyond its capabilities either mentally or emotionally or physically. It is never fair to ask a horse for something he is not ready for, then to punish him for responding in a negative manner. When we instead respect and follow the horse's timeline, we will often accomplish goals faster and better because we do all the prior and proper preparation to get the horse there.

The word principle refers to a basic truth, law, or assumption. A rule or a standard. The horse is in charge of this too because the only rule or truth that may be applied to a horse is what works for that horse. This means the trainer or rider must constantly adjust his or her approach to the needs of that horse. While one horse might need seemingly endless repetition, another horse might require to be challenged and progressed in a fashion that effectively stimulates his mind.

As a trainer our goal is to always set the horse up in a position to succeed, sans force. If we cater to the horse (while maintaining boundaries) and consider his wants and needs, preserve his dignity, and treat him with respect and love, we find the horse becomes more willing and starts to offer us different answers. What we ultimately want becomes the horse's idea because we set him up in such a way to work with us as a willing partner and to choose the 'right' answer. If you are confident in the horse's response, you can take what the horse offers and say 'yes!' to your horse. In such a manner you are working in true partnership with your horse whereby you are interacting and communicating back and forth, harmoniously.

Lastly, there are certain situations and scenarios (etc) whereby we might have to push a horse quicker than we would like. Optimally however the ideal 'slow and right will beat fast and wrong' rings true. Take the time it takes to establish a solid foundation with a horse, to really prepare that horse for the next step. The result will be a happier horse and a more thorough foundation that lacks the holes a 'fast and wrong' job creates. In the end, having to struggle through those holes in a horse's training and having to go back and fix a horse's basics or foundation will take far more time than the horse who was started correctly from the start. The horse who is worked with in a manner as Pat describes will progress rather quickly because he is interested in learning and is actively seeking to be your partner and work with you.

In my experiences it is not necessary to w/t/c a horse on the first day - I cannot recall a horse I have ever started in such a manner. Instead, we establish the basics. As the horse is comfortable with each step we progress to the next. Working with a horse in such a manner I have never encountered any struggle or resistance in later obtaining trot or canter.

1 comment:

Blanca Payton said...

Timing in colt starting plays an important role in shaping the course of a horse. The future of every performance horses depends on the beginning of their training.