Developing horse and rider as a team

River is a four-year-old Quarter Horse that Maddy and I have been starting for Regina. Regina has been involved throughout the development process by observing and participating in training sessions, taking lessons, and discussing her goals and River’s progress with me on a regular basis. Regina has recently started riding River on her own, between lessons.

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Here is what Regina has to say about the colt-start and horse development process here at EPI:

One of the best things about having River with Erin is that Erin has included me in the program, every step of the way. I don’t feel like I bought my trainer a horse – I feel very much like River and I have developed together, all along.

I bought River two years ago as a two-year-old to be my second horse. She was the opposite of my other horse. River was self-confident, dominant, and subtle in her body language right up to the point where she launched into the air, squealing and bucking, exuberant and playful. She was not particularly tolerant of dogs or horses invading her space.

I could see that if I did not provide fair and consistent leadership, River could become a handful. On the other hand, River was (and still is) smart, sweet, happy, gentle, strong, and interested in people and the world around her.

Erin has built on River’s strengths while instilling a pattern of cooperation and responsiveness, never letting River develop habits of argument or opposition. River is still self-confident, but she has also become wonderfully curious, willing, and light. River trusts that we will listen to her suggestions and respect her priorities, and that we will provide leadership and direction that she can rely on.

Erin and Maddy have been riding her at walk, trot, and canter with nice smooth transitions and soft ears and eyes. I am a less experienced rider, so I’ve been riding only at the walk in the arena, in short sessions. In my lessons with Erin, I’ve also practiced sitting and posting trot. River is going well for all of us and there is no “wait, who are you?” moment when she sees me coming with my helmet in hand.

It has been an amazing, wonderful experience, helping my youngster transform into a responsible adult, with expert guidance for both of us. Erin really focuses on the horse and rider as a team. ~ Regina, horsegirlonajourney.com

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