You made a significant investment when you bought your horse, one that comes with the commitments inherent in owning him. Make sure it is a sound investment as well as one that pays dividends by providing the proper training these powerful animals require to ensure they reach their full potential.
Before showing, before beginning training, your trainer will meet with you to lay the groundwork for the process that will enable you and your horse, whether green or seasoned, to achieve the goals you envision. This foundation involves mapping out a schedule that assures consistent and ongoing instruction, and helps the trainer assess everything from the owner’s needs to the horse’s needs and everything in between.
Regardless of the discipline in which you plan to “finish” your horse, basic concepts of handling will begin early in order to prepare your mount for advance training. Just like humans learn to crawl before they walk, you will need to create the base on which to build in order for your horse to achieve the goals you and the trainer have set. Young horses need to be calm for interactions as simple as grooming, feeding and veterinary care, and every interaction with a human is a learning moment. Eventually, there will develop a mutual respect and cooperation between horse and trainer, as well as a trust that is essential for safety and successful training. During training, a young horse will gradually become more and more desensitized to distractions such as noise, human touch and sudden movements, and it is only after becoming comfortable with equipment and responding to commands appropriately that your horse is ready to learn how to be ridden.
When the green horse — one that is not fully trained — goes under saddle, he will learn – step by step — to accept a rider without fear. From there, horse and trainer — or horse, trainer and rider — will build on the ground skills with the horse learning how to respond to new commands, developing good habits and, ultimately, tackling the skills required for the discipline he will follow. Here is why it is essential that a training schedule is plotted out: asking for these new skills requires building on what already has been learned and training is advanced by continuously setting goals for new tasks and having a plan for how to accomplish them.
Seasoned horses, as well, require ongoing training in order to hone and maintain good habits, not to mention to maintain their value. While some things are out of an owner’s control — for instance age or illness — it is their responsibility to see to it that their horses are given regular tune-ups. Horses are quick to fall out of practice and pick up bad habits, so regular rides with a professional are imperative.
Training techniques and philosophies may vary by riding discipline and program, but at the root of it all is developing relationships in which mutual trust and respect are paramount. This comes with proper pairings — horse and trainer, horse and rider, trainer and rider — and good matches, along with ongoing training, will yield winning results.