Have you ever heard someone say they just have not learned what buttons to push on their horse to get a certain maneuver? I heard it again the other day. I was being told by someone that their horse had a so many buttons that they just needed to learn which one to push. I think that what these people are trying to say is they do not know the basics.
We hear and read all the time that it is vital for a horse to have a solid foundation. I, along with many others, have written articles explaining just what a solid foundation is, and how important it is for a horse to understand in order to progress into more difficult and advanced maneuvers. What I think that we leave out in this equation is the importance of the riders understanding of the foundation. If more riders had a solid foundation there would be a lot less confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to the advanced maneuvers.
First, we have to understand how we teach the foundation to the horse which is exactly the same way that we teach the rider a solid foundation. I teach a horse the basics by repetition and consistency. From the first day a horse comes into training, (assuming that it is already able to be ridden ) my leg pressure on his right side means to move away from this pressure to the left. This does not change in any way from day one to the last day that I ride him. The more that we practice this the better and more consistent the horse gets.
This concept is the same for the rider. If you practice your riding once a week for twenty minutes, do not expect to become proficient at riding for quite a long time. Nor should you expect for yourself to become familiar with how to use your legs, or strengthen your legs, much less become comfortable using your legs while trying to become comfortable sitting in a saddle. Many riders have to understand that your basics or foundation as a rider is just as important as the foundation that your horse has. This is why so many trainers say that it is best that a first time rider purchases a horse that is more advanced. This is the same reason that you would send your horse to be trained by someone who is more advanced. Someone has to know what they are doing in order to learn.
Example: Your horse does not know math. For the example, you do not either but you both want to learn together. You may get your understanding of the numbers down by seventy percent but eventually you get to addition and subtraction. The other thirty percent of the numbers that have not been learned correctly has grown by ten times. By the time that you have reached multiplication your little problem has gotten so out of control that you have a serious problem and the only way to fix it is to go back and fix your foundation and start over. In order for training to work, one of the two participants has to know what they are doing.
A basic foundation or the fundamentals of training are the same for every event, it is called horsemanship.