By Steve Stevens
Consistency is the secret to training horses. If you can’t be consistent, what can you do? This time of year, when it can rain every couple of days…when spring storms come as often as the mailman…what can we do? I think it is important to know how to get the most out of your time during inconsistency. For some, all you can do is the best you can do. We need to understand and allow our horses to make more mistakes during these time periods.
We need to try not to get frustrated with the horse when he is only being worked every other couple of days. The best use of your time, I truly believe, is to find a patch of at least three days in a row. The first day you get the rust and edge off. The second, you start back on your training program. The third day, your horse will really be paying attention and ready to learn.
When you have one day of work, four days off, then two days on and three days off, et cetera, you never have the chance to get the best of the horse’s mind. If you really only have a day here and a day there, I think it is essential to focus on what is important. Really focus on foundation. Work more on the basics, like good stops and forward motion.
Don’t spend this valuable time working on tricks and flying lead changes. That will be there when you have time for more consistency. Lots of times, when we feel limited on time to train, we want to focus on the advanced. That would be like asking a sprinter to run the 100 meter dash without stretching. So what can happen when skipping the fundamentals is that we will push too hard and get into a fight with our horse. Then we lose more time trying to correct that.
Remember that when we are talking about the horse, we want to think ahead and set everything up for success. At the end of the day don’t beat yourself up about the limited time. Be fair to yourself and fair to your horse. And take advantage of every moment you have with your horse. Sometimes when time is limited we appreciate it more. In the words of one of my favorite country singers, Gary Allan- “Every storm runs out of rain.” Be Safe!