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It feels exciting to learn quickly, to do a lot, to add to a list of accomplishments. It feels good to work hard, to raise the jumps, canter longer, practice all the lateral movements of dressage, or get through the trail ride on the fractious horse.

Even if we are anxious through the process, the more we do the more accomplished we feel and the more satisfied we feel with our progress as we can look back and “tick the boxes” of all we practiced.

However, going too fast and doing too much often creates only the illusion of progress.

Real progress, the kind that builds lasting skill, that creates confidence, and that builds a foundation allowing for more opportunity and potential in the future; this kind of progress is slow.

This is true for both our development as riders as well as the training of our horses.

Slow is fast. I will explain three reasons why in the video below.

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42 Responses

  1. This is an EXCELLENT video – thank you for sharing. I love the 3 aspects to it. You make what should be obvious (but isn’t always to me) so simple and understandable. My experience with going slow was after I tried to do much and go too fast. I was trying to get my new little mare to learn something new almost every other ride – BIG mistake on my end. It led to her throwing tantrums whenever under saddle, and a few flying dismounts. We took it way back, and started just with mounting – getting her to stand still, coming up half way, just laying over back, then eventually mounting and just standing there quietly for a few minutes – this was repeated over several lessons. We are know working our back-up, and we are both much happier. Again, thank you for content and sharing!

  2. All my life being trained by instructors I have acquired bad habits that have taken me many years to reverse. I have always liked going slow and steady it has taken me years to change the mindset of how I was taught to ride ( do it fast & furiously) and at 65 years young now I’m having to start basically completely over. One of the many things that I’ve been working on is NOT posting off of my stirrups I’ve done it for years so now I basically I don’t ride with stirrups anymore. The other problem is I was heavy-handed always relying on the reins to help me and now I basically throw the reins away and ride with just a balanced seat. Fortunately I have an elderly rescued mare who responds beautifully to all the things I’m trying to learn differently now. When I literally throw the reins away she does exactly what I want her to do by just slowing my posting down and staying balanced. We ride a lot w/ just a bareback pad & a halter w/clip on reins. It’d so much more FUN. She does NOT like bits or being gurthed up & me being 4′ 11″ & 97 lbs I don’t enjoy tacking her up. So we’ve worked out things beautifully. I wish you were in Georgia I love your blogs & the way you teach riding.

  3. Great information! I have a mare that is sensitive and although trainers pushed her through training I always felt she was unbalanced and being asked too much too fast. She began to lack confidence, her personality changed. She was being treated more aggressively by barn personnel,and placed on unnecessary mediation. She was labeled opinionated and obnoxious! I decided to pull the horse from training and work through her insecurities and issues. This horse is quiet, smart, and has a great and willing personality. She has taught me a lot over the past few years. I have taken the time to bring her along very slowly and she has been very receptive and responded to the training. The progress has been slow but well worth the effort. I have used CRK training methods including clicker training, positive reinforcement, liberty work and in hand training. So excited to observe where this mare is today! Very rewarding!

    1. Christa, it has been awesome hearing about the progress with your mare Grace!!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  4. Wow…this was an answer to a burning question that I had! I thought I was going too slow as my riding instructor was repeating the same exercises for me to get my position better when jumping. Now, I realize after watching this video that it’s important to go slow and practice perfecting my position so I can correctly advance to larger jumps and advanced approaches to the jumps in the future. Thank you for this video! 🙂

    1. Chelsea, absolutely taking it slow is key! Especially when it comes to jumping!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. You made very good points and encourage me very much.
    One and a half years ago, my instructor and Head of Instructors changed of my riding lessons, and started to fix my bad habits that had accumulated in three years since I started taking lessons. The first one year was hard because I had to admit those bad habits and my confidence level went down.
    However, those instructors keep encouraging me, and finally since six months ago, I started to notice positive changes of myself as well as in my horse.
    Under two previous owners, my horse, Michelle, had been trained very well and competed at several shows. She is much more experienced than myself, and those positive changes on my side opened my eyes to her skills in a better way. Of course not all the bad habits haven’t gone away yet, but I am very much thankful to my current instructors not to push me but to repeat small steps and practices.

    1. Ayako, sometimes it feels like we have to take a step back to go forward – it has been a joy having you in our courses I’m happy to hear about the progress that you’ve made!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. I feel like I have rushed myself and my horse but I continue to go back to the basic movements each time I ride to remind myself and my horse of how they feel. As I learn techniques that are more basic I am stepping back to practice those and the progress is slower but way more satisfying and long lasting. This lesson is one all riders would benefit from, thanks for taking the time to put your knowledge into video to help so many riders AND horses!

  7. Just what I needed Callie! I have an 8 year old we are getting ready for endurance. Slowing down to develop her legs and mind is my constant challenge. My end goal is “best conditioned horse” and a horse who is sound well into her 20’s and always a barn favorite (feeling good). I’m only on month 7 of her training (development of skills). As I volunteer at events, I see other horses not able to stand for vet checks (lots of touching quickly), taking off at mounting, not able to manage their heart beat if their buddy horse isn’t constantly with them~and I think my horse can do that better! We do have some good basics going on~but her body is young and not finished. Our reward this year is layering with good experiences and easy building on distant and time. Thanks Callie for saying that is better than more faster!

    1. I love your goal! It isn’t all about performance but keeping the horse happy and healthy 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. Thank you for this very encouraging video. I have been told to go slow with my mare who has few hours under saddle because of physical issues and worried a lot when she lost balance. She is now 8 years old and finally we are able to progress together. I’m not afraid to admit that it took me three months to be able to ride a 1.8 mile trail ride with softness and confidence for us both. Sometimes we walked it on line, sometimes I rode a bit, some outings were better than others. I really ‘Get’ that by going slow you get there faster. She is so much calmer ,willing and really making huge progress now.

    1. Julie, your horse is the perfect ‘go slow’ candidate! When they get worried about their balance especially it is altered by a rider!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. I have a story where I learned from my mistakes. I assumed my horse who is normally laid back was safe to ride alone in open field. After spooking incidences and coming off I took a big step back in training I know have been working on progressing away from her safe zone at the barn to the open field very slowly and really rewarding when she moves out into the field. I have also worked from the ground and put spooky objects such as bicycles tarps etc on the ground and worked her through it an gave her time to adjust slowly to the object. Even the repetition of these fifteen minute exercises has helped TREMENDOUSLY ! She accepts things at new places even so much easier than before. We are still working on this but this process really works well for us.

    1. Tamra, ‘mistakes’ are just learning experiences! More than not we get it wrong on the first try – we are lucky to usually have a very forgiving equine partner that allows us to learn from those experiences!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. I had a bit of a runaway and still am wondering what happened. So my confidence was not good. I went back to groundwork and long lining. I spent two months walking through the woods behind my horse which was very good exercise for both of us. With the assistance of my trainers I hitched my mare to my cart. Always going out with the second person we’ve had four beautiful walks through the woods she pulling us in my Meadowbrook. Those two months of us working together build a beautiful bond. I was also given the advice to walk for 100 miles. Don’t rush. XOXO

    1. Lindsay, thank you for sharing your story! I am so glad to hear that through taking a step back and taking your time you have been able to repair your confidence!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  11. I have learned to slow down and listen to my horses.
    One horse is 17 with ringbone and navicular.
    Riding makes him more comfortable and he will tell me.
    My other 7 year old horse got Afib 1 year ago due to
    eating too much of the Himalayan salt block. All his
    electrolytes were depleted. The Afib could not be corrected
    and I was told not to ride him any more.
    So I started up with just walking and make a slow progress
    to a slow trot and back to walk. I ride him out on the trail now for 30 min
    on nice days – not in 90 degrees weather. He enjoys it and I also check his heart beat.
    Horses with some problems can teach you to take your time.

    1. Kari, that is so true! It really makes us take into account that we have to consider the horse’s needs in each and every ride!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. I agree so much with all of this. I spent a lot of time on handling and ground work before my pony was even backed. I knew I didn’t have the skills to back her myself well, so had someone else do it. We are now progressing slowly doing small dressage competitions…’slow and steady wins the race’ in my opinion. My own riding has improved greatly from instruction regularly although I do get frustrated that I don’t learn as quickly as I feel I should. I have to remind myself that I’m now nearer 70 than 60 and my body isn’t so supple as it used to be!!! I’m still getting better though!

    1. Anne, I think you brought up an important conversation – if you aren’t comfortable with something finding someone to help and be a resource is a great way to say safe or avoid any situations!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Thank you, Callie, for bringing this topic up! With my 11 y.o Arab Chance, I learned to go super slow. Two years ago I bought him 85lbs underweight, very tight in his mind and muscles with a label ‘lazy’ from a previous owner. He is a sensitive, playful and goofy gelding with a big personality, who needed to build his confidence and gain trust in humans again.
    In the beginning of our journey together it felt like two steps forward and three steps back:) With the help of your blog, Training Journals and Calm and Confident Rider I now feel much more confident when Chance spooks or reacts to something. It took me almost two years of consistent positive reinforcement, patience and understanding of his resistance to bring him into relaxation.
    Thank you for encouraging me, through sharing your knowledge and brilliance, to take things slowly and have fun 🙂

    1. Dasha, stories like yours are why we do what we do! Couldn’t be happier to hear of your progress in your skills and confident through our programs!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  14. Thanks, Callie, I had started to take lessons several months ago. I progressed well getting to the point of trotting. But I was not sure exactly how I made the horse to that. In the last two sessions the horse would do NOTHING I asked for. I finally got off half way through the lesson and the trainer got on. Of course, the horse did all she asked.
    I then asked if I could simply come to the stable and “make friends” with the horse as suggested by the woman from the Pacific Northwest whose videos I watched. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity, for one reason or another, to do this. But I am pretty sure that this step is where I need to practice for the time being. Talk about a major setback!

    1. Annie, think about this as a learning opportunity instead of a set back!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. I really enjoyed this video, Callie. It makes so much sense. It’s just human nature to want things to happen quickly and easily….but it is better to go slow and get it right than have to unlearn bad habits. I was taught to ride by friends, which wasn’t all wrong….but since taking your courses, I have learned how to improve my posture in the saddle and move with the horse in ways that do not cause tension. I wish I had learned from your courses in the first place!! Thank you, as always, for your insight and knowledge. 🙂

  16. Callie This is just a wonderful video amd teaching. I am over the moon I have a place at Honey Brook to relax and go slow in my learning to be with horses. I feel more myself and am finding my own wisdom coming forward. Your teaching on going slow can be applied to wverything in life!
    Amd I love tbe photo of Ruger and I and so so grateful for all you and Andrea and Ruger are revealing to me.

    1. It was beautiful watching you and Ruger work together, I am grateful to have you as a part of our community!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Julia Thank you! Your presence behind the camera that day, with your kind and creative eyes, gave me great courage to just be myself❤

  17. Wise words Callie. We put too much pressure on ourselves to complete things in the shortest possible time, rather than enjoying the journey.
    Cheers, Caroline

    1. Caroline, your comment reminds me of a webinar we did with Patrick King and he shared a quote about the ‘human doing’ because we can get so hyper focused on the task instead of the journey!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  18. Hi Callie! I loved your video on going slowly to go faster. My horse and I have both been battling injuries and healing, he could only walk for the longest time. My new trainer has been helping me overcome the millions of bad habits I have formed by trying to jump in, start showing, etc. We are doing exactly what you talked about, essentially starting over, working in the basics. It’s been amazing. I do have so much more confidence and I know as we start to trot again things will get so much better than they were in the past. I’m really learning to communicate with my horse, instead of just hoping it will get better. So hard to ride with your fingers crossed anyway.

    1. Cathy, going back to the basics and solidify the fundamentals! I’m really glad to hear it is benefiting both you and your horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  19. AMEN! I had a music teacher once who always chanted “Haste makes waste”. To develop solid relationship, communication and riding skills- it does take time-and it does take challenging ourselves on certain levels to dive into the possibility of having to rise to an occasion that we might not think we’d be totally ready for-but we shouldn’t be doing that every day, or every ride or every discussion with those we love! 😉
    As a young person-I made up for a lot of brash decisions with my excellent balance, and tenacious perseverance, but as soon as I saw an old scritchy video of Ray Hunt-I knew right away I was missing a HUGE piece of interpreting what the horse was trying to tell ME! 🙂 Since then-it has been a lovely journey of discovery-and adding my own versions of things-as we all get older, less balanced, less able to deal with falls and hopefully-more gracious with the constant messaging going on between us and our amazing equine partners. Having a horse with a personality and style totally different from any other I’ve had has also been a *mostly* enlightening experience. I like to think I’m developing into a better person…but I’m sure that is up for debate.

    1. Claire, love that saying! You can’t beat your past self up but only look forward to the future and the learning opportunities in front of you 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. I love this video ! I recently have been feeling that I’m not progressing the way I should be . Being a new rider , these skills seem to be taking me FOREVER to get ! Lol. However I’m determined to keep at it , little by little. Thanks for the advice

  21. I teach beginner private lessons. Several of the kids I started with had been in group lessons where they did too much too fast- even low jumps on a first lesson. They all had eventually fallen off -either over a jump or on
    a horse they couldn’t control- which prompted the switch to private lessons. I am a stickler about being able to properly shorten the reins to be able to turn, stop, and otherwise be able to control your horse. I warn them that we are going to back track and that there are some exercises (or various forms of the same exercises) that we will repeat in some form every lesson until it becomes automatic for them. Eventually as we move on and add more things they understand and are not afraid to try new things.

  22. i REALLY appreciate the emphasis of SLOWER IS BETTER….i sense this to be the most difficult in my self….still engrained in the hustle bustle….mastering the self; coming to stillness before entering the barn DEEP BREATHING…TY soooo much for these classes…i indeed recieve ground-work classes but not nearly enough but with these vids i can stay connected. in gratitude

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