Do people not establish the basics anymore?

Toby_Zaphod

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I hear so many people are 'Going for a jumping lesson' when it's quite clear that they haven't got the basic flat work nailed. People don't seem to realise that 95% of the time they're in a jumpoing arena they are on the ground, only 5% of the time they're in the air. It is imperative that they can ride the horse properly, turn him, steer him & put him in the correct place so that he can do his job which is to jump the fence. From what I understand , in Germany riders have to reach a certain degree of proficiency at flatwork/dressage before they are allowed to jump. They have a lot of sucess so maybe there is something in how they do things. :)
 

sarahann1

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I've recently put my teaching hat back on and I'm firm with basics, use of legs and why soft hand are important etc. My own instructor is the same. I won't pay for lessons with someone who ignores basics.

That's not to say you wouldn't hear me shouting 'kick, kick, kick' if required, it's a fine balance between letting small child do it themselves so they get stronger and learn and me encouraging the pony forward but the child ends up doing less.
 

Dazed'n'confused

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Haven't read all the responses but I totally agree!! I'm currently selling my lovely unrushed 5 yr old who has the basics established, she knows to go forwards & she can self carry into the bit (as much as a young horse can at this stage). She is light, responsive & is willing to learn. I have yet to have someone come to try her who can ride (despite them being 'experienced'). Why do they feel the need to grab her mouth & kick. Can't they see she carries herself in a balanced outline & she doesn't need "her nose tucked in"!!! Arghhhhhhhhhhhh! Head, desk, bang!!
I have someone coming for a second viewing today & I'm dreading it - the woman does nothing wrong but nothing right either!!
Sorry, turned into a rant!! :D
To summarise, no, I don't think basic flatwork is taught these days, even at higher levels. We seem to be turning into a nation of hold, point & kick!!
I know there are plenty of us who aren't like that but it's frustrating! :)
 

3Beasties

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I know someone who will back a horse at 3 with very little ground work first and they will have it jumping under saddle within the first 2 weeks :(

I was thinking about this the other day. When bringing a horse back into work it is advised to walk it for weeks and then slowly build up. But with young horses they seem to walk, trot and canter very early on before any fitness/strength is gained. Anyone know why this is thought to be OK?
 

Clare85

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I think part of the problem is that the professional side of the sport is so much more visible to people now. Events and competitions are televised more, we have dedicated equestrian TV channels, YouTube, etc. Whilst that is fantastic for equestrian sport in general, it does mean that lots of people see a finished product that has been professionally produced, working correctly and looking fabulous. They don't see the years of dedication, blood, sweat, tears, sheer hard work that has gone into these horses. They just know that they want their horse to tuck his nose in and look pretty like Valegro or go sailing over huge scary fences like Chiili Morning or whatever. They don't understand how to get to that point and so they just haul in their horses head with unforgiving hands or point, shoot and hang on over ridiculous jumps without making sure their horse can canter half a circle in balance.

I wish people would just be a bit patient and educate themselves a bit more.
 

_GG_

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Completely agree. And 90% of the time the 'getting angry' is a mask for their own fear in knowing they have bitten off more than they can chew.
This^^^ 100 times over.

If you've never had a youngster before, it doesn't matter how experienced you are, how many years you have ridden, how high you have jumped or what somersaults you have sat to. You can spend years and years riding and training horses that were already established in the basics and be absolutely fine, then go out, buy a youngster and have it all fall down around you because it is a whole new dynamic. You become not only the teacher under saddle, but the teacher of everything. Give them inconsistent handling and training and you'll get inconsistent work and behaviour.

Not being capable of bringing on a youngster yourself doesn't make you a bad horse person or detract from your experience...but, for the sake of the horse, if you're going to do it, you should absolutely gain experience alongside someone that has been doing it for years. There's no place for anger, frustration, fear or impatience and what Ladyinred has said is something that I see a lot.

You can't learn how to train horses by reading things on google or watching youtube videos. Youngsters need a handler/rider that knows how to handle the different situations with a clear, calm head on.

That said, I do kind of agree a little with what Queenbee has said, but not at the cost of YorksG's first post. Doing little bits of more advanced stuff with a horse that's not ready for it can help, depending on the horse and the issue and so long as the goal is improving the basics, not actually trying to get the advanced movement. It's comes down to the individual horse and the trainers ability to listen to it and do what is best for that particular horse. BUT...establishing the basics is the foundation of making a good horse IMO.
 

_GG_

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I think part of the problem is that the professional side of the sport is so much more visible to people now. Events and competitions are televised more, we have dedicated equestrian TV channels, YouTube, etc. Whilst that is fantastic for equestrian sport in general, it does mean that lots of people see a finished product that has been professionally produced, working correctly and looking fabulous. They don't see the years of dedication, blood, sweat, tears, sheer hard work that has gone into these horses. They just know that they want their horse to tuck his nose in and look pretty like Valegro or go sailing over huge scary fences like Chiili Morning or whatever. They don't understand how to get to that point and so they just haul in their horses head with unforgiving hands or point, shoot and hang on over ridiculous jumps without making sure their horse can canter half a circle in balance.

I wish people would just be a bit patient and educate themselves a bit more.
Was with a friend who is a professional eventer on Friday. I was acting as groom for the afternoon and doing the jumps. Got in...warmed up, 3* eventer not quite on his game as usual so the plan was scrapped and instead, the work was based around trotting over poles into an upright and repeating until the horse learnt to back off and not get over zealous. Upright went up to about 1.10, then became a parallel. At any point that the horse got over zealous again, things were taken back until he got the message again. So that's a horse that is incredibly well schooled, an absolute jumping machine, still being taught very basic lessons in jump schooling to keep him thinking, using himself properly and not just jumping because he can, regardless of form or control. THAT's a professional. Getting right, not just getting it.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I know someone who will back a horse at 3 with very little ground work first and they will have it jumping under saddle within the first 2 weeks :(

I was thinking about this the other day. When bringing a horse back into work it is advised to walk it for weeks and then slowly build up. But with young horses they seem to walk, trot and canter very early on before any fitness/strength is gained. Anyone know why this is thought to be OK?
I think that is very often because the professionals (and I use that term loosely) are working to a tight timetable. Either they have been given a few weeks to start a horse for a client or they are producing a home-bred to sell. Not that I think that makes it right.

We bought a 3 yr old who had been brought away from the herd she had been living with, almost unhandled, by the breeder to be broken in 6 weeks. We saw her ridden and brought her home and left her to grow on. She has had daily handling for almost 2 yrs, she looks like a different horse now and is ready to be re-started when the weather improves this Spring, when we expect her to accept whatever we do with her, as she has done so far. We shall be making sure that she understands the basics under saddle before we ask her to perform more advanced movements.
 

moleskinsmum

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Was with a friend who is a professional eventer on Friday. I was acting as groom for the afternoon and doing the jumps. Got in...warmed up, 3* eventer not quite on his game as usual so the plan was scrapped and instead, the work was based around trotting over poles into an upright and repeating until the horse learnt to back off and not get over zealous. Upright went up to about 1.10, then became a parallel. At any point that the horse got over zealous again, things were taken back until he got the message again. So that's a horse that is incredibly well schooled, an absolute jumping machine, still being taught very basic lessons in jump schooling to keep him thinking, using himself properly and not just jumping because he can, regardless of form or control. THAT's a professional. Getting right, not just getting it.
I had a friend who was a high level eventer and he had a young horse which was well-schooled in the basics but for some reason could not understand how to stand square. Eventually, he found that working on a steep slope encouraged the horse to stand square, praised it a lot and repeated in every session until the horse was standing square on the level every time. Sometimes there is no substitute for patience, repetition and being willing to try a new approach.
The horse did not go on to have a successful eventing career - but he did end up as part of the Portuguese show jumping team! My friend went on to have a professional career in dressage, perhaps because he was so interested in how to tackle challenges like the above.
 

Sukistokes2

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It just seems to me people now seem to be in a big rush. They want to be up on a three year old, riding in an "outline", jumping and at shows. What happened to starting at four. Or at least lightly backing at three and a half and then turning away. If I am working on my youngster and that horse is for me what's the rush!? My lad is rising six, he is a trad. Gypsy cob, a slow maturing animal, he is well established in walk and trot and is starting to canter, NO jumping! My focus was on having a well rounded happy pony, that travels well, is easy to handle, keen to pleased and not soured by his experience. How about that outline......well it's coming but it will only be consistent when he has built the muscle and strength to maintain it. It takes time......it does my head in the lack of patience modern horsey people seem to have.
 

Clare85

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Was with a friend who is a professional eventer on Friday. I was acting as groom for the afternoon and doing the jumps. Got in...warmed up, 3* eventer not quite on his game as usual so the plan was scrapped and instead, the work was based around trotting over poles into an upright and repeating until the horse learnt to back off and not get over zealous. Upright went up to about 1.10, then became a parallel. At any point that the horse got over zealous again, things were taken back until he got the message again. So that's a horse that is incredibly well schooled, an absolute jumping machine, still being taught very basic lessons in jump schooling to keep him thinking, using himself properly and not just jumping because he can, regardless of form or control. THAT's a professional. Getting right, not just getting it.
Exactly GG, lots of people just don't appreciate that a professional at these high profile events will have spent lots of time instilling basics to get the horse to the top level. And also that the basics should NEVER be forgotten and always form the basis of training, no matter what the level.
 

SpringArising

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Was with a friend who is a professional eventer on Friday. I was acting as groom for the afternoon and doing the jumps. Got in...warmed up, 3* eventer not quite on his game as usual so the plan was scrapped and instead, the work was based around trotting over poles into an upright and repeating until the horse learnt to back off and not get over zealous. Upright went up to about 1.10, then became a parallel. At any point that the horse got over zealous again, things were taken back until he got the message again. So that's a horse that is incredibly well schooled, an absolute jumping machine, still being taught very basic lessons in jump schooling to keep him thinking, using himself properly and not just jumping because he can, regardless of form or control. THAT's a professional. Getting right, not just getting it.
When I was fourteen/fifteen/sixteen I kept my ponies at a competition yard for a couple of years, and my God if some of the YO's lessons weren't hard work! He did exactly what the guy you mentioned above did. Obviously at the time all I wanted to do was go as fast as I could and jump, but it really set me up properly for when I got my first youngster.

Sometimes we would spend an entire hour in walk or trot perfecting one movement. I'd come away absolutely drenched in sweat and as red as a tomato, but looking back I'm so thankful that I had someone who was so pedantic and strict who taught me that you definitely shouldn't run before you can walk!

He had absolutely no people skills and would literally scream at the top of his voice if you got something wrong, but part of the fun was trying so hard to get it right that he didn't need to do that!
 

Slightlyconfused

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And it's not just those who are relatively new to horses. What never ceases to amaze me are the number of riders I know and have witnessed (including vets, trainers, yard managers, aspiring eventers) who pull their horses out of the stable, into the school and barely five minutes later they're trotting and in no time at all, cantering. Being in the process of rehabbing my horse from a tendon injury, I have to do a full 20 mins in walk before any trot work. Even for a horse without previous injury, my vet says 15mins walk is the golden rule to ensure optimum elasticity of tendons and joint lubrication. Are these people really so ignorant, or are they just lazy and selfish? Our 'throw away' society at it's worst perhaps - and a poor example to set to others.
erm i canter before I trot. I do a good twenty minutes walk but my horse is 20 this year. getting stiff behind. canter helps loosen him up before trot. both vet and physio are okay with this.

I do straight line hacking for youngster/coming back to work. I teach them leg yield round patches of grass. most of my schooling is done round the fields.
 

Slightlyconfused

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Yep, I think you're right there.

There seems to be a lot of people who buy youngsters but have no idea what to do with them, so they send them away for training/backing. I've never really understood why you'd buy a youngster if you don't want to/can't back it yourself. But that might be going off tangent a bit!
I sent mine away for backing, he could lunge/longrein with tack on and had good manners but I did not have the time to devote to the backing stage due to personal reasons. to be honest some people can ride but are totally unsuited to backing a horse so I think having someone do it for you can be a huge difference between a ruined horse and one that is going to be fab.

I rode my boy for the first time last week, was over the moon. he is so chilled and it was the right choice to send him away.
 

FlyingCircus

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No York... In response to your observation I don't, I establish the basics if it suite the horse, if another method suits the horse I follow that, I'm simply not one of those people who tries to train every individual Horse the same way... Horses are individual just as humans are... That is not me anthropomorphising it is just a simple fact. The good old method doesn't suit every horse
Of course horses are invidivuals...but is it fair to expect flying changes from them when they haven't nailed their canter? That's akin to expecting someone to run a hurdles race without being able to run, just because they are good at jumping the hurdles.

The whole reason people get the basics down first (in your case, the canter before flying changes) is so that the horse can do the "harder" more advanced movement PROPERLY. There's absolutely 0 point in teaching flying changes if they're incorrect (which they're likely to be due to the canter not being at the correct stage in terms of balance etc). This will just result in you having to re-visit the flying changes again when your horse's canter is established and it will be a LOT harder to correct what he has already learned than if he was new to flying changes.

I really don't understand the need to teach more advanced movements when the basics are not yet there. There's a reason they're called advanced and there's a reason most people wait until the horse has nailed the basics. That's not to say the horses aren't individuals...but teaching harder movements before the basic ones is bound to result in the harder movements being performed incorrectly (because horses can't jump well consistently without a good canter, can't consistently perform correct flying changes without a good canter, can't piaffe without being able to collect, can't passage without being able to trot...etc etc...)
 

Elf On A Shelf

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My mum sent her Welsh Cob away to be broken as I didn't have the time to devote to doing him every single day (my work roat for the ponies is 2 days on, 2 days off as I have that many to work!) He had been bitted, saddled, sat on but that was literally it. They spent a week lunging and long lining, a week walking, a week trotting, a week learning to go off of the lunge line in walk and trot, a week cantering and the 6th week was spent teaching him to jump wee cross poles -something we reauested him not to do! So 6 weeks down the line I had a pony that didn't have a clue what to do without a rope attached to him, couldn't go in a straight line, fell over his own feet in walk to trot to walk transitions and was a nappy git when he saw another human being or pony. Needless to say I didnt do much with him last year due to lack of time but this year I am basically going go have to rebreak him.

All the ones I have broken in myself learnt how to walk balanced on a 20m circle before we started trot and again had to be balaced in a straight line and on a bend before moving onto cantering. An outlie was asked for once balanced in all 3 gaits and was much easier to obtain because they had a clue. Whether it took 2 weeks or 8 weeks under saddle it doesn't matter. My lot are with me for life so time means nothing to me.
 

SpringArising

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I sent mine away for backing, he could lunge/longrein with tack on and had good manners but I did not have the time to devote to the backing stage due to personal reasons.
My mum sent her Welsh Cob away to be broken as I didn't have the time
But that's what I'm talking about. If people don't have time then why buy a youngster in the first place?

If/when I buy a youngster it's because I want to know what exactly has been done with them and who has done what. If I break them myself I know how it's been done and I know they haven't been shouted at or hit at any point etc.

Surely if you just want something that doesn't need to be backed just buy something already riding away?
 

Elf On A Shelf

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When my mother bought him as a weanling I would have had the time to break him myself. 5 years down the line when he is mature enough to begin his ridden career life has moved on and time left me. He will be here for life so it's not really an issue. Having said that I will now not send another away to be broken due to the experience with him. They rushed him plain and simple.
 

YorksG

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I am currently reading Sylvia Loch The Balanced Horse, she has a lot to say about the need to ensure the basics are in place, to ensure that the horse and rider are balanced, before they move on to more advanced work, she also talks about establishing the walk.
 

Leaveittothediva

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No wonder so many who have learnt more recently have such 'heavy' hands!
Hi, I'm looking for help in developing these elusive "soft hands", . I'm starting back to lunge in summer, can trot without reins, my sitting trot is really coming on , and have done holding the reins like frying pans to try and better myself, people are stunned and can't seem to grasp why this stuff matters. They just want to tear around the fields any old way, as long as they stay on they are happy. I'm told you can't have soft hands without developing seat. Any more exercises would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

AshTay

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Yep, I think you're right there.

There seems to be a lot of people who buy youngsters but have no idea what to do with them, so they send them away for training/backing. I've never really understood why you'd buy a youngster if you don't want to/can't back it yourself. But that might be going off tangent a bit!
You see I don't see this as a problem. Far too many people buy youngsters thinking they have the skills to back and bring them on, do a poor job but sell them on before the problems start to emerge and claim success. And subsequent owners then get the problems. Anyone can back a horse. To correctly bring a horse on takes skill, experience and time and most don't have that. I would buy a youngster that I liked on the basis of type and breeding etc, do the basic handling myself, maybe even the initial backing but then I would want the horse to have the basic training that I know I can't provide on my own. I'm an ok rider but when it comes to the subtleties of teaching the horse to respond to the aids then I'd need help. That might be under instruction with me riding, if I could devote the time and was confident, or sent away. I love the idea of doing it all myself but the horse's best interests have to come first.
 

Smurf's Gran

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I'm afraid I can't agree with you, also not anthropomorphising, but IMO trying to teach advanced stuff to horses before their walk and trot is established, is like trying to teach a child to read by using books by James Joyce, the child may be able to decode print, but will have no idea of the meaning.

James Joyce would finish anyone off forever !!! :)
 

ATrueClassAct

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People want quick results I think nowadays and more are buying young horses.
My baby horse (well he's 7 now but an ex racer so v v green) has only just started canter work after 6 months of proper strengthening in walk and trot. And he only does a tiny bit of canter as he's still not balanced enough and can get himself upset. When we canter nowadays he gives a lovely calm transition and in all three paces is getting a lovely natural rhythm.
 

YorksG

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Hi, I'm looking for help in developing these elusive "soft hands", . I'm starting back to lunge in summer, can trot without reins, my sitting trot is really coming on , and have done holding the reins like frying pans to try and better myself, people are stunned and can't seem to grasp why this stuff matters. They just want to tear around the fields any old way, as long as they stay on they are happy. I'm told you can't have soft hands without developing seat. Any more exercises would be appreciated. Thanks.
The hardest work I ever did, when learning to ride, was rising trot without irons, cantering downhill without irons (not for the fainthearted) while NOT using the hands to balance, to then do the rising trot without irons and reins, preferably in an enclosed area :)

James Joyce would finish anyone off forever !!! :)
Indeed :)
 

Jinx94

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I'm one of those that has bought a youngster (weanling) without the experience necessary, HOWEVER I'm very aware of my own limitations and ask for help when it is needed, and I ask for other people's experiences to see what I can learn from them. I'm exceedingly lucky that my YO and her family have had many many years of experience with foals and young horses, and they have all been really supportive and honestly, I couldn't have done anything that I have done (although it probably doesn't seem like much) without them.

I know two people that bought youngsters (a two year old and three year old) and both have been rushed through everything and honestly, their minds have almost been blown. Both are thought of by their owners as horrible horses, but both owners are determined to produce them and sell them on.

Even if I didn't know these guys, I would be planning to start Tristan slowly when he's old enough.
 

windand rain

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I cannot entirely agree it rather depends on your facilities I see people endlessy walking in circles with horses shut down taking months if not years wandering around with no real purpose. They then lunge them in pessoas (my pet hate) for hourse in endless circles for months before proceeding to put these poor animals through yet more boring endless lessons in walk and trot unrelieved boredom of the school. Most of my youngsters can hack out in all paces by the time they are 6 weeks under saddle and if needed can pop a pole or small log. It keeps them thinking and learning and gives them a free moving and open view of life. They are schooled twice a week for about 20 minutes in the school area with a good walk, trot, canter being asked for. So yes basics are done but not to the exclusion of each pace. I however do agree that each horse is an individual and adapt to what they can manage. I do spend some time at busy livery yards and see some very strange sights horses dead from the neck up is another pet hate. I sent my first home bred baby away as I felt I did not have enough expeerience for the first stage but regretted it as he came back missing his personality have been on the ground and done them my way since. All are forward and happy in some cases a bit too forward but it is easier to steady up a horse than gee it up to get it moving Just my point of view
 
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Mooseontheloose

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Hi, I'm looking for help in developing these elusive "soft hands", . I'm starting back to lunge in summer, can trot without reins, my sitting trot is really coming on , and have done holding the reins like frying pans to try and better myself, people are stunned and can't seem to grasp why this stuff matters. They just want to tear around the fields any old way, as long as they stay on they are happy. I'm told you can't have soft hands without developing seat. Any more exercises would be appreciated. Thanks.
Soft hands can only come when the rider has correct balance. Do lots of light seat work to establish your balance without using bottom on saddle or reins to maintain your position. By doing this you will get a correct lower leg position which will enable you to have a seat which is independent of your hands, so that when something happens your hands won't fly up.
Soft hands also mean that you can ride a horse to the contact, but the contact is elastic and still in relation to the horse's mouth. It doesn't mean that the horse is on a long rein all the time with no correct contact.
Use a neck strap if you're worried, but practice getting your bum out of the saddle in trot, canter then walk (it's much more difficult in walk), and staying out of the saddle during transitions so you don't collapse back with your hands flying backwards too.
It's amazing how many supposedly educated riders can't do this, esp those who have specialised in dressage and have got very behind the horse's movement.
 

DabDab

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Was with a friend who is a professional eventer on Friday. I was acting as groom for the afternoon and doing the jumps. Got in...warmed up, 3* eventer not quite on his game as usual so the plan was scrapped and instead, the work was based around trotting over poles into an upright and repeating until the horse learnt to back off and not get over zealous. Upright went up to about 1.10, then became a parallel. At any point that the horse got over zealous again, things were taken back until he got the message again. So that's a horse that is incredibly well schooled, an absolute jumping machine, still being taught very basic lessons in jump schooling to keep him thinking, using himself properly and not just jumping because he can, regardless of form or control. THAT's a professional. Getting right, not just getting it.
Completely agree GG - the thing is, I think if most on this thread passed by that horse during that session, they would think that it hadn't been taught the basics in the first place.

I see very few people who are genuinely too lazy or impatient for the 'basics', but I have seen a lot of people not really do the right thing for their horse because of the pressure of other people judging them.

I also really don't believe in this golden age of instructors - there have always been good and bad. I was lucky that I had some fantastic instructors when I was younger, but I also had a couple who did very little other than shout 'leg on' and 'heels down' at us for an hour.
 

minkymoo

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I think about this a lot having a 4 year old. I see 6 year old dressage horses doing piaffe & passage and simply do not understand how they got there, if that makes sense.

I have a 2 yo daughter too and both horse and child have taught me so much about development of the young mind.

My dd is a typical 2 yo, strong in her mind & stubborn! If my 4yo horse is 'naughty' I remid myself that the chances are he's questioning what I'm asking and so I need to explain and encourage him that what I'm asking is reasonable and fair. It does help that due to his knee issue he had I'm taking things extra carefully, but I can honestly say that he is well developed in the basics, but still young!

Trying to over stretch what a youngster can do is so detrimental to it's future I can't understand why people are so keen to rush and ignore the important building blocks of learning.

I see it with parents, always trying to get their children to do things they simply are not ready for, the reason behind it may be different, but the end results are the same, unsure of what they are doing and often express their frustration in bad behaviour.

That said, a youngster will always push the boundaries, it's what they do, it's just about how you manage it.
 

SpringArising

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You see I don't see this as a problem. Far too many people buy youngsters thinking they have the skills to back and bring them on, do a poor job but sell them on before the problems start to emerge and claim success. And subsequent owners then get the problems. Anyone can back a horse. To correctly bring a horse on takes skill, experience and time and most don't have that. I would buy a youngster that I liked on the basis of type and breeding etc, do the basic handling myself, maybe even the initial backing but then I would want the horse to have the basic training that I know I can't provide on my own. I'm an ok rider but when it comes to the subtleties of teaching the horse to respond to the aids then I'd need help. That might be under instruction with me riding, if I could devote the time and was confident, or sent away. I love the idea of doing it all myself but the horse's best interests have to come first.
Of course. I don't see it as a problem either. But sometimes I just struggle to see why someone would buy a youngster in the first place if they're not the one who is going to be doing the work. I completely understand what some people don't have the confidence/skill etc. to back and ride a youngster correctly, but surely it's just easier on everyone (horse included) if you buy a horse suited to your needs?

Even after the initial send-away period where a 'pro' might ride them for six weeks or so, there's still a hell of a lot of work to be done after that to ensure they're being taught how to go correctly.
 
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