Do you appropriately challenge your horse?


        First and foremost, I would like to address those that feel as though they have not had as much progress with their horse as they had hoped. You may not have high enough expectations for your horse. About three years ago, I found that I loved to play to my horses strengths and make them better. I developed certain aspects beautifully and abandoned other aspects that are necessary to have a balanced horse. In the end, I was forced to loop back and fill in holes that I had left. I got comfortable with where my mare was at and began to just accept her weaknesses as her. Horses will have weaknesses that resurface and are partially due to them, but it is our job to help develop all aspects of a horses talents despite extra challenges. With some reflection, I found that I could be expecting more of her and pushing us both outside of our comfort zones. Too often, I see people give their own discomfort to their horse. They may never practice a skill or feel nervous and then blame their horse for their response to a challenge. Your confidence is contagious, so get after it! 

       At the same time, I was recently was at a clinic and saw people repeatedly asked, why are you asking your horse for things you know they will not give you. This was a whole mindset shift for me. I realized I did that. I would ask my horse to move off my leg knowing damn well that they would not because they were nervous of something. In doing that, we let our horses learn that they can ignore our signals. The same goes for other new aspects when training. When asking our horses for new tricks, there should be a foundation that allows our horses to eventually work out a correct response. 

      While this may leave you with two seemingly contradictory pieces of information, ask yourself these two questions.

1) Am I helping my horse overcome his or her challenges?

2) Do I give my horse the opportunity to be successful and responsive?

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