Over the past few months we have put a lot of effort into trying to get Dante & Coco settled and relaxed into their work. They’re not perfect, (that may takes years) and both have improved tremendously but there’s still a long way to go. To help us get there, we have both decided to start fortnightly private lessons with the same instructor, kicking off with our first lessons this weekend. (We’ll be sure to do lesson posts after each lesson to detail some of our key learnings.)
But before we get going with lessons, we thought we’d share what we’ve learned so far by ourselves…
Steer Clear of an Argument
Try to keep everything positive! This is much easier said than done but the main thing to remember is that you always want to end every session on a good note if you can. Don’t fight them, you will not win against a 700lb horse! If they are spooking in corners and jumping away from noises in trees around your arena steer clear of these areas, the last thing you want is an unhappy horse. With time you can slowly introduce them to the scary spooky corners giving them praise when they do it in a calm manner.
Keep your Sessions Short
Youngsters can lose their concentration very easily so try to keep your sessions short, sweet and to the point. Focus on one goal at a time, if he gets it right give him a break. This will keep him thinking without overloading him with information. Throwing too much information at a youngster can confuse them and cause a lot of tantrums!! So remember, you will achieve more in 20 minutes than you would in an hour.
Focus on Basic Flatwork/Schooling
Always keep in mind, everything your young horse learns now will stick with them throughout their riding career. So it’s important to get things right the first time, no matter how much time it takes! There is no point rushing into competing your young horse, and having him jump sky high fences just because you think he can. Focus on getting your horse to respond to your leg aids and working in a relaxed rhythm. Transition work up & down is perfect for this with the aim being to transition without anything being sloppy. Taking shortcuts at the beginning will only end up in heartbreak and a lot of work re-schooling with a stubborn teenager!!
Reward Good Work & Let them Stretch
When your horse does what you ask of him, reward him! Tell him “Good Boy/Girl” and give them a scratch on the neck. Everyone likes to be rewarded for good work and horses aim to please so it will only make them enjoy their jobs more! The best reward is to let them stretch. Stretching helps your horse to relax and in the long run it will help with building up topline muscles, making them stronger. Let them stretch long and low at the beginning and at the end of a session while using stretching as a reward for good work throughout your session.
Every horse has a tantrum now and then and we all have those days where those tantrums force us to re-think owning a young horse. Regardless of what your horse is doing underneath you, always remember that you are the Boss! Don’t be afraid to be vocal and give out, they must learn what’s right and what’s wrong. Our one key piece of advice, DO NOT lose your temper, it will only make the situation worse!! Try to remain calm as best you can – if they misbehave, take a breath, ignore it and keep them moving forward. Change the exercise, get them relaxed and listening and try the exercise again. If they complete it correctly without misbehaving reward them and move on. Just keep reminding yourself that this is the hardest your horse is going to test you. Stay strong, put the hard work in now and the results will speak for themselves.
We hope you found our few pointers helpful and if you have any tips of your own please share by commenting below!
Darielle & Orla