Beginning Of The Year Changes
It's Spring. Many riders consider their current horse at the start of the year and contemplate a change. What process does a rider go through in considering a new horse?
Evaluating a horse's current training level and abilities allows the rider to establish a 'base point' or starting point for a tune up. From there, a customized step-by-step progressive training program is developed that will really work for the horse based on the horse's temperament and learning ability. Makes sense... And of course we have to factor in the rider's abilities and experience.
But what if the horse "can't cut it"? Do you take it to a trainer for evaluation? Sounds good. Is there also a way to evaluate your own horse to be knowledgeable when the rider discusses their horse's problems with their trainer (or horse friend ). Another good idea.
Silk Purse Out of A Sow's Ear
Of course the hardest part of the self-evaluation is being realistic and honest about the capabilities of our horse to meet our goals. A custom program works best if it MEETS the realistic expectations of the owner or rider. It's doomed to fail or be mediocre at best. That's hard for an owner/rider and a waste of a training bill.
Horses today are specialized for certain events so some horses may not be able to meet the owner's expectations. No amount of training can make up for an untrainable horse. Or one not suited to the job.
Lady's Starting Point - an example
Lady had been shown for many years. I had known Lady since she was 10 days old. I was looking for a reining lesson horse and Lady was 9 years old when I decided to buy her.
My evaluation determined that though Lady had had many , many show pen miles on her which meant that she rushed through the reining pattern and had been used for reining lessons, I knew that she needed a tune up. She had been used as a broodmare and trail horse for several years.
Tool Bag- Horse's Can't Unlearn What They Already Know
a general riding horse, as with many riders, horses tend to acquire a
set of skills in their 'tool bag' ( as I like to call it) that allows
get away with or resisting requests by
the rider. The less-than ideal horse sees how much they can get away with not doing.
In the case of Lady, she would over think the problem and then hurry up and get it done. A bit on the nervous side.
Dull Mouth and Dull Sides?
So Lady as with typical horses used for trail riding, they get heavy or dull on the sides and mouth. In Lady's case, she was over reactive.
Previous Training or Quick Study
Since I had known Lady's history and I found out that she was over eager to please and I really liked her temperament, I was happy to call her my own and take the time I needed to calm her down. It turned out that I was able to show her for a season. I had Lady for 13.5 years before she passed away. So sometimes it's worth to take the chance.
She is also the grandmother of the 2 year old I have now. It was because of her that I wanted to get a foal from her daughter.