Many people have a happy agreement with their horse, whereby the rider is happy when their horse mostly does as they ask for most of the time. Whether they ride in an arena, in a paddock, down the road or on the trail, many people are happy to simply arrive at their destination. They don’t really care too much how they get there.
For example, when they trot a circle, many riders either don’t care or aren’t aware when their horse runs faster on one side of the circle, or cuts in on the other side. So long as they ride in a circle of some kind, they’re happy. When they ask their horse to canter, many riders don’t care if their horse runs along for several steps before he canters. So long as they end up cantering, they’re happy.
And of course, horses are always willing to go along with compromises like these. After all, horses always have their own idea of what they want to do. They may want to stop and look at things when they walk down the road. They may prefer to wander here and there when they trot a circle. And when a horse is asked to canter, he’ll be more than happy to run along for a few steps first.
The problem with having a happy agreement like this, is that your horse will be happy to half do what you want, most of the time. However, when your horse decides he doesn’t want to do something, your agreement will become decidedly unhappy. Your horse will resist and fight against you because he knows you’ll eventually give up and allow him to do as he pleases.
That’s why it’s so important to make your horse move exactly where you ask, exactly how you ask, at the exact speed you ask, at all times. Even when you relax and walk on a loose rein, your horse must still concentrate on these three things.
Only when you concentrate on these things at all times, will you and your horse be able to relax. Your horse will learn that life is easy and pleasant for him when he does as you ask. He’ll learn to concentrate on you and what you want, rather than wandering here and there or cutting in on the circle or running along before he canters.
Like every stage of horse training, it’s up to you. Near enough must never be good enough. You won’t improve if you’re happy with second best. As a rider, you must be definite and consistent every step of the way. You must always have a plan of exactly what you want your horse to do. You must always concentrate on your horse and make sure he moves exactly where you ask, in the gait you ask, at the speed you ask.
Don’t expect your horse to be instantly perfect. Always aim for perfection but be happy with the slightest improvement. And remember, there’s always tomorrow.
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