Training tip of the week – Training young horses.
As you might know from the main website, in the fr*ee download series Diary of Starting a Young Horse, I journal about the methods I and my colleagues use and how I apply them when working with our 3 yr old Freiberger filly Elektra. We bought Elektra last November in Switzerland and now I’m preparing her for her life as our family horse.
You can read the diary instalments here.
My 11 yr. old daughter Emily has already sat on Elektra, who is so relaxed about it all that she almost falls asleep. (More about that in a diary entry soon to appear on the website)
When training such a young horse, you have to remember they are almost a completely blank page, or like a new computer and you get to decide which software you want to install. Continuing with the computer analogy, one thing you must not forget to install is a good firewall – for you. By that I mean that even though the horse might be mature and well developed at 3 yrs., it is still all too easy to ask too much of him during your training sessions and you need to know when to stop.
It isn’t the duration or length of time you spend training that is most important but what you do with that time when you are with your horse. It is the quality of the work you do with him. 2 min of oft-repeated inconsistent, illogical work (from your horse’s point of view) can do more to confuse him and stale the learning process than a longer period of work presented to him in a way that he can understand.
In the picture above, I’ve just started leg yielding Elektra from the ground.
In the picture below, you can see that Elektra has offered me a couple of good steps of leg-yielding i.e. a good “try”.
So, I stop asking for more steps and take a break, as you can see in the picture below:
If you base your training on rewarding the “tries” the horse gives you (by a try I mean you recognising the slightest inclination on the horse’s part to do what you are asking him to do) then just stop asking him to do it. That is a reward in itself. I usually reward by stopping. Sometimes literally. When Elektra (and all horses I work with) show a try or an improvement, I stop, or stop giving the signal for whatever it was I wanted her to do and let her have a breather and stroke her.
(Young) horses need to “soak” and process the information they have learned during the session. These breathers built into the ask and release cycle is how they naturally learn very quickly and how you learn to improve your timing to get a much improved, finer feel for your horse. *
Remember to look for the tries and finish your training session on a positive note.
PS More instalments of Elektra’s diary can be read here.
* For more information about pressure and release, what it is and why it works see Kate Farmer’s free download article pressure and release available on the downloads page .
Always wear appropriate safety items of clothing, gloves, shoes and head protection when handling or riding your horse. There is always some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Be sensible and stay within your level of training. This information illustrates the training methods and techniques I and my colleagues use. It is your responsibility to use it wisely. It is not intended to replace personal instruction from a professional instructor. Keep yourself and your horse out of trouble. if you wish to learn more about these methods contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org www.horsetrainingsolutions.com
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