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  • Writer's pictureHelms Hill Farms

Change One Thing At A Time


Do you remember when your mom or dad was teaching you to drive for the first time? How it might have felt overwhelming because all of a sudden you had thirteen thousand things to remember and think about and watch out for all at once? Your turn signal, rearview mirror, checking over your shoulder, watching for pedestrians, buckling your seatbelt, red lights and stop signs, the speed limit, all with your mom anxiously grabbing that “oh sh**” handle like you were Mario Andretti at 35 miles an hour? Yeah that wasn’t a whole lot of fun usually, and most of the time, you got out of the car more anxious and worked up than when you got in it earlier.

Our horses are the same way. We ask them to try a few new things all at once and get frustrated that they don’t immediately pick up on everything we’re asking of them.

We have to start with the basics. If you want to train your horse on barrels, you don’t enter them in a race and expect them to just be a natural. You start with working on bending and flexing, to determine if they have what it takes to turn their body around a barrel. You work on speed drills, to determine if they have the get up and go to run barrels. You introduce them to the barrel pattern at a walk, trot, and then a lope, well before you try it at full speed.

If you immediately ask them to learn everything at once, you’ll find that both you and your horse get frustrated and nothing usually gets accomplished.

If you’re correcting a problem or behavior, start with one thing at a time. Try a different exercise or training method. Then try a different bit. Then try a different trainer. Or a different saddle. Or something else. And give it time! Don’t expect magical results overnight.

There’s a reason trainers usually don’t offer one week sessions on training. Thirty, sixty, and ninety day sessions are the normal because we understand that change takes time and trial and error. There is no “correct” way that works for absolutely every horse. We’ll change one thing at a time until we find what works for that horse.

As always, contact us if we can help!

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