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Every time you work with your horse, you should act like a detective, trying to figure out where your horse has any holes in his foundation. One question you should ask yourself during each training session is: Is he better today than he was yesterday?
Every time you work with your horse, you’re looking for him to be a little bit better than he was the day before. In some cases, the improvement will be drastic, but in most cases it’ll be slight. That’s to be expected. My mentor Ian Francis always told me to just look for a one-percent improvement from my horses every day. As long as you’re improving by at least one percent, you’re making progress and getting somewhere.
If your horse isn’t making an improvement, it’s a red flag that something isn’t going right in your training program. This is where you have to be experienced enough to diagnose the situation or set your ego aside and get professional help.
Your horse may not be making improvement because your foundation isn’t good enough and you’re asking him to do something he’s not capable of doing. I see this a lot. A person won’t even have taken their horse through the Fundamentals level of the Method, but they’re concerned about their horse not being able to do a flying lead change. That’s like getting frustrated at a kindergartener for not being able to pass a test you’d give to a freshman in high school.
Your ability as a horseman could be holding the horse back. This can be a tough one to face, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. For example, if you have a hot, reactive horse and you can’t get him to relax on a big, loose rein at the canter but you’re not comfortable cantering, your insecurity is likely holding him back. Do what’s best for your horse and get help from a more experienced horseman. Not only will your horse improve, but you’ll add to your knowledge too.