Become a lazy trainer

Published on 15 June 2023 at 15:06


No, not lazy in general, of course, but sort of lazy in your training with the horse, whether you ride or work in hand. I see it so often, trainers overflowing the horse with aids, pushing here, pulling there, squeezing here, tapping there… and that all at once. For the horse that must be like listening to 5 radio stations all at once and then having the guess which songs they are.

How about we first let the horse decide which station he wants to listen to and next work with what is played on that channel.
That alone diminishes the need for 95% of your aids, as the horse is already playing the channel. You just might have to adjust the volume and make request songs fitting with the type of channel the horse is playing today.

How does that work in practice, you might think? Good question to ask. Let us say, the horse wants to do laterals, then do laterals! Entice different laterals with your body language and then reward every little step towards the desired movement. This way you can combine many laterals such as shoulder in with travers or yielding to half pass (appuyer). You can ask for transitions to trot from a lateral movement etc. This way you can work on your horse’s suppleness, straightness, and ability to collect. Or maybe your horse just wants to canter today? Then why not work on canter in figures in the arena, or work on transitions such as trot-canter-trot, or walk-canter or even backwards to canter… you get the idea.

🤯 But Josepha, won’t my horse then not always take the initiative to do something without me being able to ask for certain things, when I actually need it? Also, a good question. Even though we are playing the horse’s choice of channel, we can still adjust the volume or turn the radio off completely for a while. With this I mean, even though we go with the horse’s initiative of what to train, we still can ask the horse to halt and wait for us to give the signal to start the exercise, we can still tell when we are done with the exercise, in what gait we do it or if we go on to the next. Think about it this way: your kid wants to go to the park, and you say yes. Does it mean that your kid has full say of what happens in the park and you let him or her run around unattended? Of course not (or I should hope not). You are still the parent or adult guide here, looking out for your kid’s or horse’s best interest, for which you need to take the lead. But taking the lead does not mean being a dictator. Dictatorship never works in the best interest of the ‘subjects’, however good leadership does.

👉 Leading is not dictating, leading means giving the right example, it also means to let go of what is unnecessary to hold on to.
👉Go with the horse’s idea, then inspire and challenge him to expand on that!

I usually do not have a plan for my session with each horse, I go in fully open and see what channel the horse is on, then I just go with that. To be honest planning often only resulted in a frustrated horse and human.
With going with the horse’s initiative each session, I can be very lazy, as my aids can be completely minimalistic. Of course, I can always make suggestions to go into a certain direction, but if the horse is not willing, it will take to much work to convince the horse and we lose our SPREZZATURA. After weeks or months, you will start to notice that you are achieving all those goals you had, and maybe faster than you thought. Or, you are even achieving different things, you might not even have thought possible. Turns out less really is more and the lazy approach is the most productive here. It also turns out horses usually lead you through all phases of the training scale by themselves, so there is not need for rigid systems.

I have been doing this for over a decade and the progress the horse makes both mentally and physically is staggering, while at the same time I do not train that often and keep sessions very short, 15 minutes to 45 minutes makes, during which we take lots of breaks.

I understand that when you do competition you have set goals and movements that must be trained. Still, might I suggest that you focus on yourself most, during your sessions with your horse? Focus on your breathing, on your body language and how your horse reacts to it, first and foremost. Take time to experiment on that, it will save you a lot of time as you might been trying to install the wrong software, while the right software was there all alone, you just did not know, how to use it yet.
Might I also suggest that you find a subtle cue between you and your horse that he will perceive as ‘reward’. Maybe a very soft spoken ‘yes’, judges will not pick up on, or a single click from your tongue? Make it clear to your horse it means ‘This is amazing, thank you, your wonderful’.
And lastly, might I suggest that you keep weekly sessions open for completely lazy training as explained above? Your horse will thank you (and you will thank me).

📣 My book is full of information on how to entice horses with body language, so you can become lazy too!

📣📣 Are you an #equinist? Do you want horses to have a voice and to have a choice?
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If you read it, you will agree, keep telling all your horse friends, live and on social media,
that they should read it!

🤯 If you have not read it: get to it ASAP. I promise, it is unlike any other book, and you will not be disappointed!
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© All rights reserved Josepha Guillaume - Dressage in Hand

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