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Day 41 - Deciding When to Teach

100 days

Last time we talked about the steps involved in teaching stops (if you missed that, go along to the blog and read it here).

By setting up a really good pattern for the horse to follow, in about 10 minutes we can have a great 'stop'. There are a few reasons why this works so well and is so much less stressful for the horse but a big factor is WHEN we teach the lesson.

Remember, we are working WITH the horse. I haven't mentioned this yet but teaching something like stops should be done when your horse is calm and relaxed - so NOT at the start of a lesson and especially not when you've just arrived at a new venue. 

When you are somewhere new your horse is likely to want to move, possibly a lot! Energy is your most precious commodity when training so don't waste it trying to shove the Jeannie back in the bottle! Make good use of it with Give to the Bit, Shoulder Control and other ground-work lessons that involve mental engagement and forward movement.

Teaching stops requires a relaxed horse that is in the Engagement Zone (see Day 3 for more on that) otherwise it is likely to meet with a lot of resistance and won't be fun for either of you.

You'll notice I haven't suggested you teach stops when your horse is tired. Teaching a tired (or stressed horse that has just arrived at a new venue) horse will not result in optimal learning outcomes - this may mean that you think you've got a good stop but the horse didn't really learn the lesson well and when you really need the stop it may not be there. You want the horse relaxed and in the Engagement Zone as this is when you can build a solid foundation.

Can you think of another lesson that wouldn't be suitable to teach at the beginning of a session? Let me know in the blog comments, a few come to my mind immediately and I wonder if we have the same ideas.

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