Well it has decided to rain/snow for two days now and while I love the weather and the ambiance it has swamped our arenas and soaked the pastures. So what to do?? What to do????
I think it’s a great time to come up with training plans for the beasties! Now my training plans aren’t that detailed. Well at least not yet. Since both boys are getting back into training I make them very broad and very very flexible. The areas they need more work in will become apparent as we work.
So whats some of the things I plan out? Well sometimes I plan out specific rides and sometimes I plan out a weekly progress. For me, the plans are more like a checklist and a guideline to make sure I’m not rushing my horses. Here is a sample of one of my plans for a session when I’m working on getting Cash going on the ground and in the saddle.
On the ground:
- Relaxation on the lunge line. The Cash is always a little full of energy when I take him out. He needs a few laps to get some bucks out, canter and snort before he’ll settle down and start listening. Once he’s listening I want him relaxed not tense and ready to run.
- Responding to voice commands. I want my horses listening to me. I want their transitions to be as quick but not rushed! When I say Whoa I want them to stop! Brakes are a must even on the ground.
In the saddle:
- Relaxation. If he’s tense and I can feel a hump under my saddle I know that he’s probably thinking about bucking or he’s unsure of whats going on. I usually will keep it to a walk or trot until he relaxes talking to him in a calm voice to keep myself and my horse calm. The more calm and relaxed I am the more relaxed and calm he will be.
- Basic transitions. Again just like ground work I want him to be listening to me. I want a quicker response without a lot of nagging and reputation. I’ll keep it to walk and trot and stop transitions. I want my horse to have brakes. If he’s not wanting to stop then we work on stop-walk a few strides-stop-walk a few strides before moving onto trot. I always always always want brakes! I can speed up anything thats too slow but should it all hit the fan I want to know my horse will stop when I tell him.
- Add in canter work. If he’s listening at the walk and trot then I’ll move onto trot and canter transitions always making sure he’s relaxed.
Now throughout a training plan I assess what else I need to do to keep the horses interested. Sometimes I’ll throw in ground poles. Especially if Cash seems really bored or reluctant to go forward. Ground poles peak his interest and keep him thinking. If he’s having problems with any transitions I’ll work on that until he gives me a couple of good ones before moving on. If he gets to frustrated I’ll go back to something he is good at for a while before attempting whatever made him frustrated again.
I’m also not afraid to keep sessions short especially in the beginning. If I feel I’m nearing the end of Cash’s attention span or if he’s done just an outstanding job I have no objection to only a 20 minute season.
There’s no reason to keep a lesson going if the horse is understanding what you’re asking. If they have accomplished what you wanted, or shown a great effort in learning the task, reward them for it.
I’m never afraid to change a training plan. Sometimes I have to take a huge step back and work on basics again if something was lost in translation as I’ve asked for more. Sometimes my plans for the horse just don’t fit how the horse learns and I have to re-think everything I’m doing to keep that horse engaged. Each training plan I have is different for every horse.
Now if only this weather would stop this shenanigans or if a indoor arena would just sprout up around the ring that would be great!! But I guess I’ll just go grab another Cuppa and work on some more plans and maybe even pop in a movie to watch!