Thursday, February 24, 2011

Confidence building in the horse...

Last time we discussed the importance of building confidence in the rider.  Today we will look at ways to increase the confidence in your horse.  When your horse gains confidence a willingness to perform increases.  For most working animals including horses and humans there is a desire to please.  We as humans do not like getting punished.  The same applies for horses.  Horses want to get things right.  You hear people comment on their horse's ability to learn or their horse's love for working this is from us noticing an animals eagerness to please.

Start building confidence slowly.  Training a horse is a slow process that takes patience.  You decide what you will be working on during your time with your horse.  Let us use a young colt that has about 30 rides for our example.  We are going to start with working our colt on the ground with a training lead (lead should be longer than 10 feet).  We want to be able to do the same things on the ground with our horse as we want to do on the horse's back.  The colt is saddled and ready to ride even when we will be working on the ground.  We want to be able to move all 4 legs independently of each other.

Start by having your colt step its hind leg through in a tight circle.  Do this on both sides.  It is important to give your colt rewards when even the smallest try is shown.  Resting is the best reward for your colt.  Sometimes the break can be long and other times on a brief count to 10 and back to work.  So now we have the colt stepping through properly and without any refusal.  Next we are going to move the front shoulders.  Have the colt step around with the lead foot moving slightly back and the following foot moving in front of the other.  Once we have the colt moving the front legs we are ready to send him out.

When we work our colt on the ground we want him to work.  A lot of times people will take their colt and send him out on a long line making him trot and canter around with no purpose.  This will eventually wear the colt out.  Giving us the illusion that he is learning something and wants to behave.  Later on you find out that your colt is in great shape and will be able to run circles around you for an hour.  Give the colt work on the line.  Have him start, move to a trot, then back to a walk, and then halt.  Repeat and change directions.  Have the colt take off at a canter in both directions.  Everything that you plan on doing while on his back needs to be done while on the ground.

With the practice on the ground you and your colt will have the confidence that you will be able to do the same things while riding.  Make sure that you have a plan and schedule a time limit.  Young horses do not need long riding sessions.  More important are multiple sessions that are effective.  Have fun and spend some time with your horse.

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