Monday, September 10, 2012

Is it you? How riders affect training and progress

In today's modern world it is easy to loose perspective on what it takes to train a horse.  Just pull up youtube, turn on RFD-TV, or open a magazine and you can see 1,000's of awesomely trained horses who we would all love to ride.  Regularly we see Bob Avila and Tom McCutcheon doing perfect reining patterns in the NRHA, and we just finished watching Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro win gold in London.  And who could forget Stacy Westfall and Roxy at the 2006 Congress as seen here.

We hear about and see the results of hard work on a regular basis, and yet we rarely talk about what it takes to actually achieve it.  So today I am going to talk about some rider factors that affect training and the speed progress.

1.  Time spent-  It is a proven fact that the more time you spend working with your horse the faster you will achieve what you want.  So if the professionals ride 6-7 days a week while you only ride twice a week logically you would have to ride 3-4 weeks to achieve the same amount of riding/training that the professional did in one week.  So if Stacy Westfall had Roxy in training for 3 years before their 2006 congress run (, it would have taken her close to 12 years riding twice a week to achieve the same results.
2.  Knowledge/Experience-  The more experienced you are the faster you will be able to realize your riding goals.  When you have little to no hands on training experience teaching a behavior it will logically take you longer to achieve the same results as someone with more experienced.  Considering that Bob Avila has been in the business nearly 40 years and started 1000's of horses it would be illogical for the average rider to expect to be able to achieve the same results in the same timely manner.  This does not mean you will never become experienced and knowledgeable at what you are training; it just means that you should allow extra time when you are not well versed in what you are doing.  On average it can take 2-3 times longer to achieve the same results when you are not experienced in what you are training.  Just remember that everyone had to start somewhere.
3. Timing-  Timing is the key to successful horse training.  With a understanding of timing you can often make up for a lack of experience and or greatly speed a long the process.  When you release/reward your horse learns, and the better you are at rewarding your horse the moment he does the right thing the faster you can train.  Unfortunately timing is not something that can be learned from a book but it is a skill that must be learned through trial and error and perfected over time.

At the end of the day you can have a ride like Stacy Westfall but you must be willing to work for it.  The average rider must realize that it is possible to achieve your goals but that the road to completion may be longer than expected given your own personal circumstances.  Besides isn't life is about the journey and not the destination anyway.       

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