RideAbility - Dressage and Flatwork for Showjumpers

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Honza Bláha a Gaston
Any trainer of horses needs to understand why horses react the way they do. A horse is such a willing creature, but it is vital that he understands what it is we want him to do.  Even though his intelligence is limited he is able to learn quickly, but finds it very difficult to unlearn something.  Therefore it is vitally important we teach him the right thing.

Confidence is a big plus.  If you gain the horse's confidence you are definitely at an advantage.  Patience is of utmost importance in the training of horses, never asking more from the horse than he is physically capable of at that time.  Asking more from him than he is able to give will only lead to resistance.  He must never be rushed or he will panic and there will be only tension in the work.  If there is tension he will not learn.
Two main instincts of the horse are the fear of pain, and his herding or homing instinct.  If he is afraid of being hurt his natural reaction is to run away. Therefore, his confidence needs to be built up slowly to accept objects which he fears.  One should be quick to reward and slow to punish.  The trainer should try to analyse problems, not react too quickly to what the horse does.
                                 Sally and Malvaloco
A horse has some very sharp senses. Hearing is acute, causing him to shy or jump at a noise which we hardly hear ourselves.  A horse observes his surroundings and is long-sighted.  In the wild he had to be able to see danger coming in order to flee.  He can see to the side and behind him, and when he looks in front of himself the focal point is some way in front of his head.  Therefore one should let him smell anything new.  Remember, as the horse sees behind him, he sees the position the rider takes, where his hands are and the way he uses the whip.
 A horse's sense of feeling is also acute.  He can feel vibrations which we cannot feel.  A slight touch of the whip is often all that is necessary to make him move.  Notice how he twitches when something as light as a fly touches him.
A strong horseman can often force a horse to submit, but the horse will not be a happy horse.  A patient trainer who understands the horse and gains his trust will achieve far more.  The fact that like people no two horses are the same, makes the training of them so fascinating and rewarding.
             "Horsemanship is nothing more than a series of good habits"
                                                Steve Jonckheere          
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