I have a new widget that is going to turn the horse world on it’s ear. This is a tool you can use to train your horse to do anything in any event. This new tool has to be used in conjunction with a part of you anatomy that some people let lie dormant and is not exercised enough. Want to know what it is and how much it costs? The tool is knowledge and education and the part of the anatomy is your brain. What does it cost? Time and consistency.
One very useful place to get education and knowledge is clinics, demonstrations, and private lessons from accomplished trainers. Don’t shy away from going to a clinic or lesson from someone if you think that your horse is not ready, or is not at that level yet. How else are you going to get to the level of riding that you want to achieve if you do not know where it is that you are going. Sometimes clinics may not be as educational as you would like, or has a method that you do not agree with. But, you are still being educated as to what not to do. This is the same way that good trainers become great trainers. I feel that I am a fairly knowledgeable trainer. But, I did not get here by sticking to myself. I continue to learn from other trainers and work hard to increase my knowledge and skills. The only kind of trainer that I will not go to for knowledge, or attend one of their clinics, is the one that says his way is the only way. Why? Because it means that he has stopped learning himself.
Another great place to expand your knowledge base is a competition of the event that you are wanting to compete in. This is a good place for you to again, see where it is that you are going. This does not mean that you should limit it to a local event but, take a vacation and go to a national level or world competition. Where else are you going to get to see the level of competition at its best, than a high level competition. It is a place where the arena is exactly right, and the horses and riders are prepared to their best. This is a great way to see where it is that you are going.
It is extremely important that your quest for knowledge include education about the tack and tools that you use. Let’s take a look at a couple of the tools that we as horseman use. Some in our everyday work and some that we use on occasion to help us get through a sticky spot. It is important that you not only learn how they work, but how to use them in a way that does not cause you to rely on them as a crutch. The first tool that I will talk about is the martingale.
The most important part of a martingale is that it is adjusted correctly. Make sure the rings that the reins run through are long enough. When the horse’s head is relaxed and the neck level, the rings should be adjusted long enough to reach the throat latch. If they are shorter, then you are limiting the amount of lateral or side to side work on your horse. Having it shorter helps you to keep your horses head down, but it is being used as a crutch. A good way to see if it is being used as a crutch is to take it off. If your horses head goes up when you pull, then you have over used or improperly used your martingale. The thing to remember is that the horse learns from the relief of pressure. Make sure that when your horse gives to the pressure of your reins, and the downward pressure of the rings on the martingale, you give relief by giving more reins.
If you have any questions or would like for me to address a particular piece of tack in the next article feel free to email with your suggestion or question.