There are many aspects to owning or working with horses which we've all learned at some point, either by example or through experience. Thousands of opinions, methods and techniques are available to us through trainers, teachers, friends, online resources or printed materials. When we immerse ourselves in this sea of information, we eventually form our own opinions on methods or theories that we may or may not have experienced for ourselves. Some facts remain true across the board, such as: horses learn through repetition, so no matter what or how you are teaching them, the training happens by repetitive actions and consequences. Or, the fact that balance and energy are discussed at length in any horse sport or discipline. But even though some facts remain the foundation of all training, there are still massive amounts of conflicting opinions out there -even heated arguments- over different methods and styles of training. It is your job as an owner, professional, enthusiast or observer to sift through the options and remember this: There are many, many, MANY different ways to train horses ...and that's okay!
The best trainers will be the ones who understand that there is never one-way to train every horse. If someone tells you otherwise, then get your money back quick! Good trainers need to have a toolbox full of different methods and techniques that they use to overcome the different challenges each horse offers with their unique learning style and personality. Even if the results are roughly the same in the end, the path to achieving those goals will be different for each horse. Because of this, all trainers (and owners) should constantly be learning new methods and techniques -to fill up that 'toolbox of tricks'. One of the best ways to fill your toolbox is by watching a different discipline once in a while: if you're a saddle seat rider, go watch the jumpers! If you're a dressage rider, go learn some western! The beautiful thing about diversity is the chance to see things in a new light and find bits of useful information in it. Not only can you build an appreciation for a different discipline, you will also have new ideas for your training methods -or maybe find better ways to avoid mistakes.
You don't always have to agree or disagree 100% with training when observing and learning from it. It seems quite arbitrary for people to argue about training styles as if they were stereotypes, without speaking about specific instances. Don't allow yourself to fall into that trap. Now, that being said-- there are definitely instances where objections can be made; just don't speak in generalities when addressing the issue. Be specific about a situation if you thought it was useful training or if you saw that the training wasn't successful. Don't throw it all out with the wash. Some horses need a firm leader, and some need a gentle hand for confidence-building; it would not be fair to say that one way is the 'right' way in all situations.
It is so important to remember that every moment we have with a horse is a learning opportunity; for them and for us. Just as in riding: be flexible. Keep an open mind. Because anyone who trains horses will admit they've made mistakes and been humbled every now and then. Be brave enough to challenge your own thoughts on some subjects, and you'll find you always have more to learn when it comes to training.
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