Today’s training tip comes from an absolute legendary trainer, showman, breeder and judge Steve Heckaman.
Dealing with a Sour or Show Savvy Horse
“You need to become a good horse psychologist to come up with the answers to why your horse may be acting up. Sometimes if a horse is dominated too strongly or micromanaged to keep control in a pleasure class, the end result is a troubled performance. Your horse may be missing an important element and they react with mental energy in the form of rushing or anticipating. When a horse assumes they are in front of you mentally, they will also assume your place is back behind them permanently. They take control and take liberties as if you are just a reactive passenger and they get to plan the ride.”
“You should know the horse’s training history and use the information in your home and warm up prep. Freshening up your horse who is showing signs of being ‘used up’ and having burn out by changing their focus and pick different classes to show in. Western riding classes make better pleasure horses as they are asked to complete longer fast paced patterns. It is important to get the horse to do what you want it to do while they think it was their idea first. Trail class is also a great schooling class where you make your commands known with no assumptions of who is in charge.”
“A trainer should also coach the rider on how to make the corrections themselves. It won’t benefit the rider if they don’t know how to handle and/or right the wrong in their horse. It also won’t help the horse if it knows who and what they can get away with and who they need to perform for.”