Thoughts on Training

If you have anything more to do with horses than looking at them from a distance, you are a trainer.

Training is a process, not a one time event.

Training does not happen only in the arena, or only on lesson days, or only when the handler/rider feels like “working on training”. Training is happening all day, everyday… for better or worse.

Training is not only about the horse learning.

I thought I was super lucky to have very smart, trainable horses. Then I realized that the more I have learned, the smarter my horses have become. I think there is a connection.

The more experienced I have become, the more I am able to learn from any horse.

Learning from horses takes time. Lots of time. There are no short cuts to gaining experience.

Training takes “feel”.  Learning “feel” comes with spending hours and hours and hours in the saddle. Luckily, those hours are enjoyable, the journey of learning a pleasure.  Why would anyone want to rush it?

Your horse becomes your creation, and your reflection. If you don’t like what you see, realize you are looking in the mirror to figure out where the changes need to start.

You will not learn to train a horse until you have been humbled by many horses.  Until you accept this, you will continue to make the same mistakes and continue to only work with “stubborn”, “stupid”, or “problem” horses.

The most difficult horses have the most to teach you… but you have to let them.

There will be bumps along the way. If you never challenge the limits of your capabilities, you never expand your capabilities, and you never know just how much you don’t know. You’re not a real cowgirl till you’ve been bucked off a horse… a few times.  Fallen in the mud… Dragged through a field or down the aisle. And run away with, only to pull your mount up and think, “Actually, that was pretty cool!”

Training is about making the horse’s body more beautiful by creating strong, supple muscles, and training is also about shaping the horse’s mind, not just so that he understands and responds to commands, but also so that he wants to, the horse should become a willing partner in the process. Lastly, training needs to address the horse’s spirit.  Through good training, the horse becomes confident with who he is and at peace with his place in the world.  It is essential to listen to the horse in order to address the needs of his body, mind, and spirit in training.

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15 thoughts on “Thoughts on Training

  1. Sometimes, too, we’re blessed with a horse who has chosen us and chooses to work super hard and learn as much as possible. I’ve been told it’s really just that I have a thoroughbred now, and certainly I *have* learned more over time. But my horse is exceedingly smart, likes me because I’m kinder/gentler/quieter than what he grew up with and disliked, and has the work ethic of Bill Gates.

  2. I LOVE this post 🙂 It reflects what the convo you, me, Steph, and Liam had in the arena the other day. I really like the first line, “If you have any more to do with horses than looking at them from a distance, you are a trainer” …is that your quote or from someone else? And I like how you point out that training isn’t all about riding. Horses who are great under saddle but impossible to handle from the ground are not well trained! And I say this from someone who used to have a horse that wasn’t manageable from the ground or the saddle…I had to start on the ground first!!! And pretty pics too! Love it all!

    • Thanks Liz! It’s my quote, all this was just my own ramblings, as I was kinda thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made and things I’ve learned with Liam, and how I was able to avoid many of those mistakes with later horses! I always credit Remy with being so perfect, my honor roll student, but then I think how unfair that is to Liam. Liam didnt’ try any less hard, but like you, I had to start on the ground first with Liam, and he was a tough horse… but then I wonder how much of that was how little I knew at the time! And I’m sure in 10 years, I’ll look back at all the mistakes that I’ll make with Remy and shake my head… 🙂

  3. WOW, do I love this post! Do you mind if I link to it on my teeny tiny little blog? I think you’ve stated beautifully the kind of philosophy I believe in, and try (however fruitfully some days) to practice with my horse everyday.

  4. This is a really good post, Christy. I particularly like the line (and the reminder) that your horse is your creation. They really are like mirrors, reflecting accurately how we ride and how we handle them.

  5. Very well said!! I have a pony that wants to teach me a lot and challenges me everyday…but yes you are right, it gets easier with time and patience and knowledge! 🙂

  6. “If you never challenge the limits of your capabilities, you never expand your capabilities, and you never know just how much you don’t know. ”

    This is my favorite part, since it’s SO true. I love the whole thing but I can’t articulate why 🙂

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