I am often asked to work with horses who other trainers have “given up” on, or horses who have gone through so many trainers that they don’t know their left from their right. I get horses who have a smattering of random different aspects of knowledge, but not enough to put them all together, and this usually makes for a very confused animal.
Think about how confused you may have been if you were switched into seven different math classes during a year of high school. You would just start to get to understanding the rules of the class, much less the information you were supposed to be learning, before everything would change again. You would be thrust in the middle of another lesson, and have no idea what the teacher wanted or why. After a few months, you would get the hang of what was going on and then- another change. This is what your horse feels like when he is switched from one trainer to another- or from one trainer to no trainer, to another trainer for a few months, to no trainer, etc.
When I work with horses, I don’t worry about any of the bells and whistles. Rather, I focus on the things that every single horse owner will need their horse to do:
- Walk well on a lead.
- Stand while being groomed.
- Pick up all four feet for cleaning or trimming.
- Longe on a line.
- Stand while being tacked up.
- Stand while being mounted.
- Walk, trot, canter in an arena.
- Be able to turn left, right, and back up.
- Transition up and down without fuss.
- Move off the leg.
All horses should understand these 10 basic concepts and be able to execute them before moving on to any higher level of training. Many people, however, rush their horses through training so they can ride them more quickly. They may be able to overlook a few key issues, such as the horse not standing quietly while mounting. Unfortunately, this can lead to a very dangerous situation, and while you may be fine with the horse moving around, the next owner might not feel the same. There is no reason not to make sure your horse is safe and respectful at all times; it will make your life easier, your horse will feel more comfortable knowing all of the rules, and if you do sell your horse, he will have a much better future if he has better manners.
Over the next several months, I will be addressing these 10 issues in multiple blog posts. If you have specific questions about any of these particular issues, or would like me to address an issue not listed above, please feel free to e-mail me and let me know!