Horse training jargon. Clear or confusing?

Mystical, humorous or deliberately elusive – the terms we use in the horse business can leave a rider scratching her head. As a young rider, I was a coach’s worst nightmare – “What do you mean by that?”, I’d ask.
I rarely got a meaningful answer.
No doubt, jargon adds some comic relief to the conversation. Some horse trainer lingo is just – funny!
But, are the terms we use meant to CREATE mystery or to UNCOVER and UNPACK the mysteries of humans working with horses?
Training a non- English- speaking horse partner is complicated enough without including unclear terms which train riders to give unclear signals and horses to be clearly stressed out! If we can’t describe our aids in such a way that someone who’s never ridden could understand, chances are the aid is fuzzy to the horse too!

Are mares more difficult to train than geldings? Equine behaviour study says no.

As a riding coach, I’m occasionally asked if I’ve perceived a “gender bias” in competitive riding, I chuckle – while I wouldn’t say that guys get more breaks than women, or vice versa, I do think “difficult” mares tend to get a bad rap!
Yep, the “As long as it’s not a chestnut mare” syndrome is alive and well.
Yet, I’ve worked with enough grumpy geldings and mild mannered mares to debunk the gender bias in horse training.

Trail obstacles and pandemic obstacles – dismantled and re-mantled.

THUMP . You look back and see your horse knocked down two elements in the trail walkover obstacle in your pre-class warmup. You’d carefully set and measured the distance for success only to have your horse dismantle it… again. It’s a picture of our walk through this pandemic. A yearlong series of one hurdle after another…

The ups and downs of western pleasure. Part 3

How did western pleasure world get caught up in controversy? Slower lopes, lower heads, longer reins, stiller tails? Because of the specialization of the western pleasure horse and the process it takes to produce a winner, many of my amateur riders I coach have opted for the “all around” route. Classes offered at stock horse shows include western riding, trail, ranch riding and horsemanship. In pattern events, a horse which lacks the quality movement or compact stride of a pleasure horse can still be competitive.

The ups and downs of western pleasure . Part 2

The calmness and manners expected by competitors in the western horse show world is admired by other riding disciplines. This was one of the factors that attracted me years ago to the quarter horse horse show circuit. “Well-broke”, they stood still while mounted, ground tied and ALWAYS loaded. I’ve carried over the expectation of manners into the coaching and training I do with all horses and riders. So if calm and mannerly good…is MORE better?

The ups and downs of Western Pleasure

In my travels teaching riding clinics, ‘“talking horse” with equestrians from various disciplines, the subject of western pleasure often comes up with the dressage and hunter/jumper riders I meet. NO discipline is without its fads and extremes. Dressage, show jumping, reiners and gaited horses have been called out for unethical practices and “unnatural” training techniques.