How to quantify training progress

daydreamer

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hi,

I have a youngster I am slowly training. I have a list of small goals/targets (e.g., moves hind quarters, stands still when tied, speeds up and down when leading etc) as I like order and lists and I feel it will help give me focus. I'm not fussed about doing the list in a specific order or to a set time scale, I'm happy to play that by ear.

I have decided to tick things off as Basic, Established or Refined.

Loosely when I decided these categories basic is something we have tried, established is something we have done more and then I'm not exactly sure when I would be happy enough to say something is refined.

So I wondered if and how other people quantify their training/progress? Surely this is useful to help decide what needs more work and when? Maybe everyone else has just been doing it so long they just do it instinctively/intuitively?

Can anyone help me quantifying my categories or explain how they do it?

Thanks
 

milliepops

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that's an interesting approach and whatever works for you is great :)

I don't think I'd use a formal list for my horses. at the moment I have 3 that are what I'd call "actively learning" rather than just dossing about being retired ;) they are the ones that I have aims for in terms of new learning rather than just keeping on top of general handling.

they are really different. My older horse is training towards GP dressage, I measure her progress partly by riding exercises and assessing how easy or otherwise they feel, working out what the things are that need more work etc and then measuring the progress by repeating the exercises again (some of that learning is for me, more than her! had an example of that this morning). but often it's about enhancing her responsiveness to my aids.
Which exercises we work on partly depends on what I fancy doing and what my trainer has suggested. it's very fluid. and we often revisit very basic work that you might think had been ticked off years ago. I find we are often swapping between the highest level and the most basic level work many times in a session. therefore it's hard to compartmentalise anything in terms of whether it's achieved or not, because the horse can always be more balanced, more responsive, more through and so on. even when those things are refined, they still can be MORE refined ;)

For the younger ones I have more of a formal mental list, for the yearling this is stuff like Stand well for farrier, load on lorry, accept being washed, lead nicely
- for her I'm happy with a binary yes/no for these, like yep she stood pretty well, she got on the lorry, she let me get her wet etc rather than getting too bogged down in whether it was all perfect - some of this just needs practice and familiarity rather than specific training attention.

for the 3yo his list will be becoming a bit more like yours I suspect, as he does things like the yearling, but has now been bitted, will begin some groundwork this summer with a view to backing him later. But again I think you can believe you have something pretty much nailed, like "lead nicely", and then something unexpected happens and you find actually you only had "lead nicely" achieved at a basic level because, for example, when another horse was running round the field next door your horse lost its marbles ;) so a horse can be on a continuum of basic to excellent achievement of a task, and the score they receive for that task can change based on the circumstances at the time!
 

daydreamer

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Colchester, Essex
Thanks @milliepops for the reply. I've always ridden established horses and never competed seriously so training them hasn't really seemed such a big deal. I just work on what I feel like needs improving and the sorts of things we did in our last lessons.

But with my 3 yo I feel the need for a more formal list to keep me on track. I have never had a youngster before and seem to vacillate between thinking "it's going fine/I'm not doing enough/I'm doing too much". I'm hoping a list will help me see that I am making progress and also stop me being overwhelmed by thinking of large outcomes rather than breaking tasks into small bite sized chunks I can do when I pop up to see him.

I hadn't considered the ability to perform tasks with/without distractions but of course you're exactly right. And it was the refined category I was struggling with as like you say everything can always be refined further. Maybe if I change my words that might help? Learning/proficient/mastered. Learning could still be hit and miss even in the best of circumstances, proficient - pretty much always right with no distractions but suffer a bit and mastered - only needs very small cues and nearly always gets right.

But then I start thinking about if it goes wrong that's often a problem with focus not necessarily with the specific cue/training.

Hmm, can you tell I've just broken up for the summer and have too much time for navel gazing?! ;)
 
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