Slow and steady start

Pat Parelli’s reminder to “take the time that it takes so it takes less time” is especially important when starting a young horse. I constantly evaluate the horse’s mental, emotional, and physical readiness for each step of the process, and adjust based on what the horse needs. The worst thing I could do for horses (and their riders!) would be to rush through this transition period from adolescent to working partner.

River is a three-year-old Quarter Horse who does best when she has several development sessions over a couple of weeks, and then has a couple of weeks off. She is learning fast and more importantly, remaining willing and putting effort into her education.

River is accepting the saddle…

…and learning to carry the bit.

We warm up and do our pre-flight checks on the ground. River has a tendency to be sticky at the walk and occasionally reluctant to trot, and then to explode into the canter with a squeal and a buck, so I have been helping her learn that she can be calm and relaxed in any gait. On this day, she showed her progress by offering beautiful transitions on the circle.

When River was ready, I had Maddie get into the saddle. Maddie gives River cues for forward, stop, turn, and back, and I reinforce the cues from the ground if necessary. By applying the cues in a consistent order, River learns to respond to the focus and body language of her rider.

Reward for a job well done.

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