A horse is like a human in that they learn from repetition. Consistent cues repeated over time and the horse will understand what it is that you want them to do.
If a horse has been laid off or not being ridden for a length of time, then the horse needs a review of the lesson(s) that was last taught to them to 'bring them up to speed'. It's like refreshing their minds. Or 'picking up where you left off'.
3 Days in a Row
I generally like to ride a horse 5-6 days per week. I will usually ride the horse a minimum of 3 days in a row. Day 1 is a refresher. Day 2, we can start to learn something new. And the horse has some idea of what the new lesson is. By Day 3, the horse definitely has an understanding of the new lesson material.
It just makes learning (& training) so much easier.
What I believe the horse is doing is picking up on the patterns of our communication or cues. Because we repeat them consistently, the horse is able to read the pattern and duplicate the response.
And of course we rewarded them for that particular response so they will try it again.
Rest & Reward
Horses & riders also need time to absorb the lesson.
Rest or stopping & standing still is a great way to reward a horse for giving the correct response.
Monday Morning Review
Very often I will ride a horse from Monday to Friday (sometimes Saturday if more practise is needed to confirm understanding). The horse usually gets Saturday & Sunday off from training and spend the weekend out on pasture.
So come Monday morning, I usually spend that day reviewing and refreshing what the horse learned last week. We get up to speed on where we were on our training schedule. It's also a nice training session after a weekend off. (The horses don't learn to dread Mondays. Sound familiar?)
It also gives me a chance during the warm up to determine if I need to add anything at the end of the warm up as a review before progressing.
It may sound like I'm not progressing quickly but when the next lesson is dependent on the horse knowing the previous lesson, it truely does make learning & training faster & easier.
So as a rider, if you are getting on your horse after a period of non-riding, I suggest longeing your horse, do a partial mount up, mount up and during your warm up review where the horse is in terms of their mindset before riding on!
So this past Monday I gave Trigger a tune up lesson by reviewing the lessons of the previous week. I reviewed longeing, flexing laterally, flex to stop, flex to slow down, E1RS, partial mount up, mount up & flex, warm up & cruise control.
I was also able to test a bit on vertical flexion at a walk & jog or better known as Collection. I will talk about collection in my next article.
Enjoy our winter weather!
(Photo above: Trigger is gettting a review of flexing while longeing.)
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