Changing Plans and still making it positive When working with horses it is important to have a bit of a plan with what you are going to do and achieve in your schooling lesson. However do not be afraid to chuck your plans out the window and come up with a new set half way through. For instance, when I break in a horse I have a system that I like to stick to and it has great results. I don’t like to push my horses out of their comfort zone that much that they feel panicked and end up throwing in some bad tantrums because they are overwhelmed. I started working with Phoenix, our Fresian, who I am breaking in. I have been taking things slowly with him as he is still developing (almost 5 years old); I tend to only work him once maybe twice a week. I have been spending the last few sessions mouthing him and he is going great! I had zero intentions of getting on him and was just going to do desentisation work with jumping up and down next to him until he became comfortable with me doing this. Well he literally didn’t even blink when I did this so I thought well I will just slowly keep increasing what I am doing until he lets me know what he isn’t comfortable with and then I can work from there. Well I ended up getting on him and he still wasn’t bothered by me at all. So this was a really positive way of changing my plans as Phoenix was happy and comfortable with me doing this. I quit our work once I hoped off and gave him heaps of positive reinforcements for being outstanding. However things can go the other way too and that you may need to change plans quickly because your horse may have come up with something that they think is in need of work lol. For instance I was giving a lesson and we were going to work on making our canter a little longer. However once in canter the horse decided he could no longer remember how to move away from outside pressure and turn properly. So in an instance our plans were changed from longer canters to shorter canters working on steering control. Once we had achieved a great result with our control and the horse was listening and very responsive to the outside pressure we quit working on our canter. He had showed that his mind was not in the right place to work on longer canters today but he had learnt a big lesson about control in the canter so lots of positive reinforcement for that! Hopefully next time with him having that lesson under his belt we will be able to push on to our longer canters. You can mentally wear a horse out by just not knowing when to stop and reward their efforts.
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