You're gearing up for that wonderful Spring ride you've been working towards and setting your sights on for months. From grooming to ground work to saddle up, let's go!
Our weather here has been a roller coaster ride with a few good sunny days to work with in between cold, cloudy, rainy just plain ole yucky weather. Getting into a consistent exercise routine can be difficult at best when weather plays a part especially if you don't have anywhere indoors to continue exercising through winter.
Take advantage of those wonderful days by doing what you can do and accepting those moments done right. If you're having problems in an area of ground work, being consistent in those few days are better than being persistent. It can be a very fine line to be walking right there because if you're more persistent, your horse may become frustrated or confused in the beginning. 15 minutes of good consistent work will go much further than being persistent in getting what you want over a half to one hour. Here's an example:
Let's say you go out in the morning and you only have a short amount of time to get a little exercise in. You really want to work on your horses side pass from the ground. You spend a few moments warming her up, getting the blood flowing good, raising the respiration and heart rate. Now you spend the next 15 minutes working on the side pass in both directions. She does it great to the left, not so great to the right. She steps forwards or backwards instead of sideways. So you continue and end on a good note. It wasn't perfect, however the side pass was accomplished and exercise stopped on a good note with lots of petting and praise. Now off you go to work, town or even housework. You go out later in the afternoon evening to work with your horse again, warm up and work on side pass. This time your horse side passes perfectly in both directions. You're ecstatic! Lots of love and praise given. Now you can move on to something else, maybe you just end the session there and spend some time grooming or riding on the trail.
The next 2 days the weather doesn't cooperate with your plans. The next good opportunity you have comes up and you go out for that short session work. Warm up, check to make sure your horse has that side pass down in both directions. Here depending on how well that side pass went, you are either going to work on it again or start on something new. Either way, your training sessions need to be consistent regardless of the weather. Every time you work with them, you need to follow the same steps to achieve the goals you have for your horse. If you change up how you do things, your horse will get confused and things begin to go awry.
Now let's say in those 2 days of good weather you are persistent with your horse. You start out the first day warm her up, then work her for the next hour or 2 on whatever it is you are trying to achieve. You're persistent and after the first hour your horse starts "acting up". She's not backing up, not side passing, not listening etc. Your horse is tired mentally and wearing down physically. She's trying to do what you ask, but maybe she isn't quite getting it so you go over it and over it until she finally does one step right. After your blood pressure goes through the roof, you're agitated and irritated because your horse isn't doing right, you decide to just give up working on the session. The next day you go out for another "try". Your horse starts acting up right away. Your persistence is paying off in the wrong direction.
Shortcuts are persistence. Taking the time to go through the steps each time is consistency and something your horse needs in order to learn correctly. Horses in the wild don't take short cuts, they don't think like that. They do what they must in order to survive. Your horse is no different. They are fight or flight. So if your horse is acting up, it's because she's either fighting for self preservation OR she's trying to get away from something painful or scary. Either way, you have to figure out how to work within your horses boundaries, not the other way around. Break down your steps when showing them something new. Make it easier for them to learn and give them the time to learn it.
Short sessions with consistency will go so much further than you being persistent for any length of time.
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