The 3 stages of learning an exercise for a horse and rider
I wanted to talk about learning and how to help our horses understand our requests better by explaining how we can break down an exercise into 3 stages. When I say exercise, I want you to apply this to anything you do. It could be Ground, Liberty, Mounted, Dressage, Jumping, Reining or any task you have set up. It means that you evaluate where you and your horse are in these three stages by asking yourself these questions. 1. Is this exercise new to my horse and I?(first time you've ever showed it to him). 2. Are we familiar with the exercise but still have some physical difficulty with it (but intellectually you both understand what you are asking). 3. You understand and practice the exercises regularly and are good if not near perfect in execution reliably a high percentage of the time.
Now you've asked yourself these questions and answered them to the best of your ability. Think about anything you may be doing now with your horse where you are struggling a bit. Does it help to think of it that way? What stage are you at with your exercise together? Now let's look at this from the human perspective. It is the same isn't it? You learn something new, You understand it but need to practice it more to get it more correct, You have practiced a lot and have grasped an exercise pretty fully and can do it without having to think too much about it. It becomes natural. Think of Rising in the trot. Once it was a bit difficult to think of doing this motion while trotting and now it is as easy as breathing or blinking for you (or maybe you are still learning it in stage 2!) It helps to think this way so we forgive ourselves and our horses learning curve. Every horse and human learn at different paces and in different ways. It is best to work at a pace that is comfortable for both of you. Mistakes are o.k. and are really just guides to what you need to focus on. It doesn't matter how many times or repetitions it takes or how many days or weeks. It takes as long as it takes. If you think this way you will get where you want to go a lot faster. Trust me. Be happy with the smallest try in yourself and horse. Smalls slow steps lead to big improvement. Never be in a hurry.