Walk into any tack store and you will find a dozen gadgets to “fix” your riding problems. Or browse the internet and you will find offers of “3-day colt starting” or books that promise to fix your horse problems in just a few easy steps.
So many horses today are trained very quickly and then resold or handed back to the owners. People fail to realize that one or two months on a young horse can be a great start but is hardly enough to suddenly call him beginner safe or anything like that. In the same way, if a horse has several years of bad riding and all those bad experiences in his head, a month at the trainers to fix a problem does not mean he is a changed horse. Old triggers can still bring that problem back. We as horse owners need to work on ourselves every bit as much as we work on our horses. Every time we interact with our horses we are teaching them something whether we like it or not.
Don’t get me wrong – most of the horses I get in are for 30 days training, but I like to keep the owners very involved through the training process, so they can continue the work with their horse at home.
And to the main point of this article – slow is fast. Taking the time to train your horse the right way, taking one step at a time, building a foundation for the horse mentally and physically, and being careful to challenge your horse but not so much that you scare or injure him is so important! When a horse is brought along correctly, you don’t have to go back and redo everything later and you don’t have to “just deal” with bad habits every time you ride. This is why “slow is fast”. Starting out slowly, taking your time and doing things correctly will save you time in the long run because once you have that good foundation on your horse other training will progress much quicker than you expect!
There are a ton of examples for this, take starting a young horse, if you go too fast and get bucked off not only did you just scare your horse, but now he knows that bucking is a very effective way to launch you. It’s going to take a lot longer to undo this then if it never happened. Next, take training a jumper, if you start raising the jumps too fast on an inexperienced horse he is going to get scared because he does not have the confidence to know where to put his feet if the approach is less than perfect. Eventually you will have a refusal or runout. Again, what has this horse just been taught? How about using a big leverage bit to get your horse to collect – you might get some collection in the first ride but it’s not true relaxed, working from the hind end collection, it’s probably stiff and bracy because the horse is just trying to avoid the pain caused by the bridle. I could go on and on with examples, but I am sure everyone else is thinking of them too!
The moral of my story here is go slow with your horse, take the time to do it right the first time and you won’t have to redo it later!
Does anyone have thoughts to add to this? Do you agree or disagree with the slow approach? Let us know in the comments!