In any sort of training endeavour, the exercises concerned must be designed around a group of goals. Every piece of training must have a desired result that’s to be achieved. This truth is no less pertinent for the coaching of horses.
I like it the way a friend puts it. This friend, the world’s pre-eminent writer on training, says that “If you don’t know where you are going, you never will know when you get there”. I find a great illustration of the reality behind this statement in the history of America. Going west was a dream for many thousands of folks that actually had no idea where they were going. They were going west because they were looking for greener pastures, but they actually did not know what they would find and where they might find it. Many of them settled down because they found what looked like ideal spots, some of them set down roots because they became incapable of proceeding any farther and a few of them settled on California as that was as far as “west” would go.
It never ceases to amaze me that so many people start training their horses without clearly defined objectives. What is rather more amazing is that a lot of pro trainers are guilty of this oversight. They just do not seem to be aware of the potentially serious results their approaches can have.
You’ve got to have your training aims clearly set in three categories: the desired end result; the factors for judging when the result has been achieved; and the conditions that should prevail when the result has been achieved.
Let me give you a more clear picture.
When we chat about desired end results, we are talking about objectives like, say, a horse loading into a trailer without terror. When this is the target, the horse is taught to get over its nervous tension about getting into trailers and accepting trailers as being harmless conveniences. The ultimate result is accomplished when the pony loads without demur and without pushing and prodding.
The required criteria that have to be met include the horse loading without demur, without pushing and prodding, and without jumping or hustling into the trailer. Associated factors would include the pony getting into the trailer with the lead rope tied at the neck, simply in response to an oral cue. Obviously, you would have different criteria for different training exercises.
We now come to prevailing conditions. The quality of a performance can be contaminated or boosted by a set of abnormal circumstances. Taking the example of the horse loading into the trailer, is he doing it just when there isn’t any distraction. Is he capable of doing it when other horses around are showing laborious objection to loading, say after a show has ended? Is he equally at home with an open stock type trailer of 16 feet and a smaller trailer for two horses?
Obviously, you are covering all grounds when you know beforehand what the perfect end results which you desire are, what the ideal criteria are that determine their quality and what the perfect circumstances are that determine their effectiveness. That way, you can finely tune your coaching to just the type of end results which you want.
Author: Heather TomsThis author has published 2 articles so far.