Today I thought I’d share one of the most valuable lessons I have learned while training horses. Many people think of ‘training’ as a specific activity you do with your horse. You take them out of their stable and start a ‘training session’ and when you put them back in, that training session is over and you’re done for the day.
One of the most valuable lessons you can learn is that this is not how it works. Horses do not understand that there is this thing you call ‘training’ and that they are supposed to learn during that time and ‘switch off’ before and after. A horse is always learning – so everything you do with a horse is ‘training’.
When you realise this, the importance of consistency becomes more obvious. If you are really aggressive about your horse staying out of “your space” when you are training but then expect them to come over for a ‘cuddle’ in the field, you are not being consistent. If you want your horse to stay calm to be mounted but have a “hot seat” while riding and are constantly driving them forward, you are being inconsistent. If you want your horse not to rear when they spook but you scare them into rearing and reward them for it as a trick, you are being inconsistent.
A great deal of behavioural problems are created by this artificial distinction between training time and ‘non-training’ time and a small change in the human’s attitude towards this can quickly make a huge difference in the horse.