Horse Lessons- Far more than just basic instruction

I've had an influx of new students lately and although folks sign up thinking they are coming for "horse" lessons... there really is a whole lot more that will be addressed.

I remember riding for years and never having my coach(es) mention, look at, review any of the following... And these were top level trainers and clinicians.

The idea that the instructor is "just" the riding instructor is outdated and is a disservice to clients. "Students don't know what they don't know," as a client of mine once said.

So many folks don't realize how important ALL aspects of their interaction, health, equipment, etc. affects the partnership with their horse. It can be overwhelming to either the novice or experienced student as every horse will have a different set of needs.

One part is folks have become very "removed" from their relationship with horses. We just don't spend the time with them like we did 20 or 30 years ago.

Another aspect is horses are not the "same" as they once were... their genetics, their limited exposure to the "real world," and their lack of quality training sets them up for a very challenging life. And yet, if owners become educated, if we strive to address all the "pieces of the puzzle," we can achieve amazing partnerships with them.

Below are just some of the many aspects that I frequently have to cover:

From the basics of tack fitting (horse and human), safety issues, correct usage and the how's and why's of what they are using.

Dietary needs/issues displayed in the horse's physical and mental state.

Farrier care and physical affects it may be having on the horse.

Assessing pain and other physical issues in the horse displayed in his posture and movements.

Addressing dental issues, potential TMJ issues, neurological issues, etc.

Then I have to add in the "minor" part of working with the human student, their past, concerns, confidence levels, exposure, and potential physical limitations.

And then finally there is the horse, their mental, emotional and physical state, and assessing their initial education and potential "holes" that need to be filled in order for them to have a quality foundation.

So the next time something may seem as one "specific" issue, remember rarely is one unwanted behavior/response about the moment that it is appearing, rather it most likely is connected to a variety of factors.

A lot of my Q & A with clients is trying to get enough background, history, clues, etc. as I attempt to play detective on how best to work with a horse. And of course, the horse will offer the most honest responses as to his "story."

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