How to keep your sanity riding horses

I did not own my first horse until I had been training professionally for 20 years. Training horses for other people was my passion and my profession. My entire life up to today I have owned a grand total of two and a half horses. Cobalt was my first horse; Strutt is an FEI horse I own in partnership with Mr. George Daher, and just last year I bought Victor (an aging Grand Prix horse). It felt funny to have myself as a client. Still does. The freedom to decide time frames and training goals was unsettling and then became relaxing.

When I first started training horses for a living I wanted to include the owner in the every day ups and downs of a training plan. I would buy a school notebook for each horse. I would take a picture of the horse at the beginning of training and enter on the first page the training goals for that horse. I told the owner to write in any other goals that they wanted me to address. Then each training day after I put the horse away I would sit on the tack trunk of that horse (where the training journal book lived) and write a paragraph of what happened. I tried to be specific. I included the good and the bad. I kept it short. This way the owners of mares could track the mare’s changes of moods (or lack of) during estrus. Injuries were dated, rehabilitation tracked and recovery times accountable. Many owners were unable to attend training sessions but this way they could read up on things when they had the chance to come out to the barn. I would do the same thing via email and YouTube for out of state owners. If the owner rode the horse on a weekend that I was away the owner would know what I was working on that week and be prepared.

Many clients kept this habit up after they took the horse home. One client remarked, “Every time I get the feeling that I’m getting nowhere I go back and read the previous training goal and entries. Then I am reminded of how many goals I have achieved and how far my horse and I have come in our training plan.” She could have convinced herself that training was not happening and gotten depressed or turned to a “Quick Fix” plan that would only make the training derail and go slower. People tend to compare themselves to other riders with different horses and different goals and think they are too slow or doing it wrong.

As Bill Woods “R” Dressage Judge, Clinician and Trainer says

“Hear the Chimes, Things Take Time”.

Here is a diagram as to why you need a training journal and lesson plans


Advice for Success (and how to keep your sanity riding horses)

  • Have a Lesson Plan each ride
  • Have Training Goals
  • Get Good Instruction
  • Keep a Training Journal

I’ll be writing about  Lesson Plans and Training Journals in future blogs. Keep an eye out for them.

What is your advice for keeping your sanity?

Author: equestriannotebook

Welcome. After thirty years of immersion in the equine profession, during which time I trained horses and students across disciplines and breeds, I am embarking on a new expedition - blogging. My training philosophy focuses on improving the performance and partnership between the rider and the horse. The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences and to hear about yours. I look forward to taking this journey with you. My home is in Clermont, Florida on an 11-acre training facility with my husband Bill, our dachshund, Krieger, a couple of barn cats and the horses. My career brought me to Florida in 1990 as a working trainer and rider. I am currently serving as Vice President of Central Florida Dressage and am the editor of The Centerline, CFD’s eNewsletter. Below are a few of my credentials B.S. in Animal Industry from Penn State University U.S.D.F Rider Silver Medal U.S.D.F. Certified Instructor (T-2) U.S.D.F. Graduate (with distinction) Learner Judge Program U.S.E.F. Technical Delegate “R” F.E.I. Level One Steward The five years I spent as assistant trainer to Dorita Konyot established a life long philosophy and training style that I continue to practice and teach to others.

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