Leaning against the fence of the warm up ring, waiting for the next class to begin, I chatted with an amateur rider who was watching her trainer give her horse a pre-class tune up. “He gets along so well with my horse,” she sighed. “My horse just knows who’s boss. I think we have a personality clash.”

She chatted away to her horse and trainer as she climbed aboard and adjusted her stirrups. Despite the trainer’s instructions to “Just put your hands down and keep off his mouth,” I noticed his face fall as he watched the pair join the crowd of practicing horses. Before one lap of the warm up ring, the horse had lost his focus, frame and rhythm. The rider scowled at her horse and shrugged at her trainer.

Are you speaking so your horse is listening? Are you speaking the same language as your trainer?

  • Do you use the same voice commands, right down to the volume and tone?
  • Do you have the same leg cues (location and intensity) for go forward, move your hindquarters or forehand?
  • Do you use the same rein aids for slow, flex or turn?

Now, it doesn’t really matter what cue you use (you could teach your horse to canter by saying Shazam and touching his shoulder with your toe) as long as your horse gets “the code” and anyone who works with your horse gets it too. Otherwise, all he’s hearing is “Blah, blah, blah…”

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