When I train horses, once they are broke enough to know generally what career they want to do, I will focus on the things that are important to that discipline. Let’s say I think this horse is going to be a Reiner. I will start to work on the backup. Every time the horse stops I will ask him to back. Sometimes I will back up 20 to 30 feet every time I stop. He will start to anticipate the backup when he stops. The other really great thing is that he will get balanced while backing. He will know how to move his feet while backing.
If I think the horse is going to be a pleasure horse I will work on softness. Softness to me is when the horse feels pressure in his mouth and on his sides, he gives not only in his mouth but all the way though his body. I will walk 100 circles to get the horse bending his body from the pole to the tail.
These are two examples of what I call teaching more than what you need. If I can get a horse to back up well, I will be able to get him to stop fast. If I ask him to stop and he doesn’t try very hard, I will back up. Backward is the opposite of forward, and between the two is the stop. It’s easy to get the stop if you have more back up than what you need. Same is true with the softness. If I can get the horse to give to the bridle and be supple in his body, getting a great bridle on the horse is easy.
So think about what your desired end result is and teach the horse more than what you need. Think of someone who runs marathons once a month. I would bet a year’s pay that they could run a mile without stopping. That is why we teach more than what we need.
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