Whether it’s through altering exercises, switching up the scenery or using a different training approach, the least we can do is try and shake it up for our beloved horses, keeping enthusiasm alive and to maintain the desire to impress and perform well.
Teach Your Horse Tricks
One of my personal favourite methods of keeping a horse interested, is teaching him some new tricks every now and again. Remember the reason why you are probably reading this article though – HORSES HAVE A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN!
The most effective way for trick training to work is to keep sessions from roughly 5 to 15 minutes long. Of course, you cannot teach a horse a trick in 15 minutes, it will take persistence, patience, repetition and you keeping a sense of calm about you even when things aren’t going so great. Just keep it a nice, light-hearted, bit of fun at the end of a training session that both you and your horse can look forward to.
Keep in the back of your mind that you should focus on one trick only until that has been mastered and then move on to a further, maybe more complex trick, two at once will only result in confusion and frustration for you both and well, you won’t get very far.
Starting off, you should reward your horse with a treat EVERY time he gives you a positive attempt and as time passes, your horse will become more aware of what you are asking of him. The treats can then become less regular until you finally hit your goal!
Keep calm if something goes wrong and praise when something goes right – this way your horse will be equally as eager when you come to move on to your next trick.
- Some of my favourite tricks are: Hug, Smile, Kiss, ‘Yes’ (nod of the head), Count & Bow
Keep Your Horses Strengths and Interests in Mind
When we initially begin riding, or indeed as we progress in our riding career, we often have preconceived ideas in our head of where we will be in a few years’ time. What will our horse be capable of? Can I be successful in a number of disciples? But this really isn’t how you will succeed to the highest level, as it may have a negative effect on your horse.
Each individual horse has varying abilities and also different things that they enjoy. Sorry to inform you but… they do not always match the ideas we have in our heads.
Make sure you are always mindful about what is best suited to your specific horse and also what he is most enthusiastic about, and then put your focus into training for this discipline. As well as ensuring that your horse is not bored, this will help your horse become the best and most successful horse he can be, whilst fully enjoying the process and having fun along the way.
Change Your Scenery
Some of you will know how it feels to attend the same place of work day in, day out, see the same people repeatedly and take part in the same activities over and over again, and all you need is a change of scenery! Well, believe it or not, the same goes for your horse.
Eventually, your horse is going to increasingly tire of seeing the same old sights, whether it’s during rigorous training sessions or on casual and leisurely walks. You can help this by making the smallest of changes in day-to-day life.
For example, if you train for certain disciplines only using one corner of a field, every now and again shift the training session to an opposing corner, even if the view is ever so slightly different. Or if you’re going on a long walk with your horse – take a different route.
A great way to give your horse a break, however, is give them an annual summer holiday! I don’t mean take them with you to Spain or to Tenerife, but enjoy the British countryside. There’s an abundant of horse trails for you, your horse and the rest of the family to visit, where you can see some beautiful sights, enjoy the fresh air and just have an all-round great break!
Why not gift your horse with some shiny new training equipment? As well as acting the part, your horse will also look the part!
There’s a whole range of Leather Training Accessories available on Old Dairy Saddlery that will ensure your horse steals the show in the next competition they have been training so hard for. A favourite, and a most definitely eye-catching piece, is the Castle Market Harborough, ready to go in a variety of sizes and colours.
Also there to help keep your horse poised, proper and ready to take on any competition is a range of high-quality lunging & schooling equipment. This Cottage Craft Neoprene Lunge Cavesson will take pride of place on your horse, not only easy on the eye, it will improve your horse significantly throughout training sessions.
Or if your aim is to improve the back muscles on your horse, give this Essential Training System a whirl, that will take the weight off the forehand of your horse and on to quarters.