The importance of NEVER putting a timescale on training
I have always believed that if you have 30 minutes to do something, it will take you an hour! This applies to everything you do in life. Putting a timescale on what you need to do just seems to jinx things!
I believe the same in lessons too, it would be wrong to say that the horse has done X by 40 minutes, but we are meant to work for 45, so we need to push for another 5 minutes. NO, we work until the desired results are achieved.
Today was very true of that, but on a hack with Rocky.
As Rocky has now returned home from his holiday (well, training camp!), I have a plan of how his work schedule is to be, starting today with hacking.
I had a plan of where we were going to go, a route not taken by Rocky previously so as not to bore him, which included a lovely grassy track to use for canter work.
I mounted and set off, right from the start it seemed like everything was out to get us! We hit more traffic than seen on the M25 and had to pull to one side seemingly every 3rd step!
However, Rocky coped impeccably and only stepped sideways away from a very loud tractor!
We also met our first other rider today, I have to admit I wasn’t sure how Rocky would react, but as we discussed the weather, he just stood motionless.
Then it was to the canter track, wow, all the arena work has developed a BIG canter, all on que too.
Then here is where the importance of not timing your ride came in....
On the track was a puddle. No small puddle, a huge puddle. There was a tiny gap to the outside of it that we could have squeezed by, but as Rocky is used to water from our arena, I asked him to go through it.
Simple you may think, NO was the reply from Rocky!
The puddle wasn’t enormous, but he couldn’t see the ground below which meant he was unsure of his footing causing him to be worried about it.
At this stage it would have been easy to have said ok, let’s go past, not through, however the gap was in my own opinion not wide enough without causing a problem, so it was the puddle or a LONG ride back.
As Rocky is still learning, it was paramount I didn’t upset him, but remain positive and passive, but equally not allowing him to go a different route.
We must have stepped sideways a hundred times, tried to spin, half rear, stamp his foot, snort, test the water with his muzzle, take one step forward followed by 10 steps back, and repeat!
All the time this was happening I sat motionless, supporting, soothing and quiet.
After what felt like an eternity, (actually 40 minutes!) Rocky took a deep breath and leapt over the puddle!
This was an acceptable outcome to this little problem, especially as he is learning, so he got lots of praise and then we rode on as if nothing had happened.
We then cantered, trotted and worked like nothing had happened and life was great until....
OMG ANOTHER PUDDLE RIGHT ACROSS THE TRACK!!!
Well, it was that moment you say to yourself, “here we go again”, but Rocky simply stopped, checked it out from a muzzle point of view, and after an initial, “I am sure there must be a way around it”, which took about 5 minutes, he simply launched himself over it and carried on as if nothing had happened!
Had I not have taken so long to be patient and rewarding at the first puddle, this one would have inevitably taken twice, if not longer to have sorted.
That initial “issue” paid dividends and had I been pushed to be back in time for “X”, then these two issues would have been quickly pushed to one side, resulting in even bigger problems next time we met a “puddle”.
Hopefully the next time we meet a puddle, Rocky will remember that he isn’t beaten to MAKE him do something, but rather helped to sort the problem out.
Time is precious with any horse, even more so a youngster.
NEVER EVER start something you don’t have time to sort out, the issue will inevitably get worse and the reactions bigger, resulting in the horse receiving mixed messages, if one day he is allowed to not do “X but on another he is then asked to do “X” when he previously he didn’t have to, how is he meant to know what is expected??
Keep your training Black and White and Never put a TIME LIMIT on anything.