If you want to get the most out of working with your horse, try creating some consistent routines. I find when working with a large quantity of young horses, unknowingly one the first things I teach them is a bit of structure and routine around their interactions with me. They get caught, handled, ridden, hosed off, tied up, then put back in their yard. They know what to expect and when to expect it. I find if you methodically imprint them with this kind of routine you can do away with a lot of the panic and worry in their day when they know what is coming next. I can tell you from experience that when I muck up this routine and throw too much at the young or green horse, things can pear shaped rather quickly. This is not to say that we are never going to up the game and try new things, quite the opposite, you just have to do it slowly and with respect to their ‘much loved routine’. I like to introduce new experiences and things into our daily routine to better prepare my horses for their life ahead, some days we do a little more groundwork, introduce some obstacles, mix up the ridden exercises, or we ride out in a new area, something to keep them thinking and active but not too much to throw their whole routine and structure out the window.
As a horseman I am growing more patient by the day, particularly in what I expect of my young horses, this has taken time to develop and experience. I find now I do less and get more done when you consider the time scale, with a lot less hassle and worry on the both the horses and my part. Maybe the routine is good for us too!! I know a lot of my students really appreciate a simple set of exercises, routines and focus areas that they can work on refining inbetween our events, it gives them something to really hone in on before we catch up next. Focus on the little improvements everyday and all other things seem to fall into place.
One older mare of mine was so used to her daily training routine that when we finished a certain exercise she knew it was more than likely her time to quit for the day and she would let out a whinny/grunt and turn around and look up at me whilst I was still on her back. Upon reflection she was actually just training me to go wash and feed her, but more so our routine worked, we were both in sync and rhythm and after we did that, we did that, then we had a bath, then we ate, all was good. Even to this day, many years after her competitive career has ended, if I get on her and do that certain exercise, she will glance up with one eye make that wonderful whinny/grunt to signal that ‘it is time’. They truely are creatures of habit as we humans are also. They learn all the good and bad habits through our teaching and guidance and they stick, trust me!
So, if you are working with a your horse at home, try working on a set routine each day and see if you notice a change. You might see your horse settle down when tied up waiting for you or really soften into an exercise and improve a lot faster then previsouly. Ultimately, all horses want to please their owners, we all just need to provide our horses the most ethical and supportive situations and environments for them to thrive and enjoy the process. One other key thing to remember when working with horses, is that we want them to love their job, sure things can be a little tough and hard every now and then, but overall I want to create a positive experience for our equine partners so they want to go to work tomorrow and we can enjoy the process together.
Hope this helps.
All the best.
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