I have no idea where the time has gone since last blogging- I can’t even blame my technical director (aka Husband) as I am solely responsible for my blog. The only plausible excuse I have is lack of time; something all horse owners lack at this time of year; with good weather comes a multitude of chores.
Lacking time can often lead to frustration in our training, things take longer than we had planned and the balance on a circle we struggled with last month is still frustratingly just out of our reach. The frustration that we already feel is exacerbated further when we scroll down our Facebook newsfeed reading all the exploits of our ‘friends’. Next time we work with our horses we already have an agenda, a mission and we WILL complete it. Lightbulb moments are rarely experienced during these tension filled times.
Earlier in the year you may recall that I talked of taking small steps and this has been my liberator from frustration. Do something, however small, rather than nothing was my first step. The other, rather obvious, small step is to take a retrograde step. Usually it is just a little backward step, revisiting previous training of say stop/go in-hand. Yesterday with Chapiro it happened to be trot transitions. So why don’t I have these transitions ‘perfect’ yet and why would I want to take a step back?
Sometimes in our training we get so close that we can’t see the bigger picture, we plough on thinking that we are useless, the horse is useless, the trainer is useless or the saddle is useless; basically any excuse that will explain our lack of progression or form. Yet the biggest problem for many of us will be a lack of confidence. This can manifest itself in fear when riding or handling horses; sometimes though, it can influence our training choices so that a calm confident (fearless) person around horses is still having a crisis of confidence in training terms.
We often forget our horse in all this, while we tweak the saddle, change the trainer and push on to confidence we lose sight of their confidence. The stoic nature of most horses will mean that for many their crisis will be a silent one; until the lack of confidence tumbles down in a big heap over a seemingly trivial issue. At this point we are truly in the doo-doo!
The way to avoid a crisis of confidence in both horse and rider is to set some achievable goals- particular for horses that are learning new things. What I mean is that at the same time as training for collection (novel task) then it would be wise to spend some time on a simple task like stop/start. Note here for clicker users- heavy duty rewarding essential!
Yesterday Chapiro and I worked on walk/trot/walk transitions with major positive reinforcement. After warming up with some lateral work in walk we moved on to the transitions. Within a couple of transitions he was listening, ten transitions and he was offering his best and we had a supple trot and responsive transitions- I called it a day. A carrot and a cuddle- confidence, for us both, restored. A very short session, nothing new learned- or was it? Good things really do come in small packages.