Every horse can be trained. My father used to say: everything in the stable will be trained correctly. That was mainly because we had no money and I got the leftovers, horses with problems or no one could do anything with. However, it was a good challenge to make something of them. I still don’t care with what type of horse pupils come to me. Every horse has something nice and if you are willing to take the time to work on something, it will always get better. Realism is necessary here. I can improve a horse, but not do magic. Instructors should be optimistic, but remain honest. One of my loyal students once came with a Frisian with very crooked legs. I had never seen them that crooked before. The horse had a fantastic character and a lot of enthusiasm. We started training the mare. The canter was a problem. It is more often with Frisians, but this one really couldn’t do it. By taking her to the beach a lot, doing some driving and rewarding exuberantly for short stretches of canter, it worked out well. Because of all the training, the legs even seemed to become slightly straighter. Of course, there is no international dressage career for such a horse. But they can all go to advanced level. Dressage training is also useful if you want to score in a different discipline. Endurance horses remain sound when you teach them to use their back the right way, with their balance spread over four legs. I have all kinds of horses in all sizes in my lessons. I am convinced that through proper training with a lot of patience you can improve each horse physically. I have a pupils with an advanced horse of 28 year old. Getting him supple takes a little more time and in terms of exercises the first part of the lesson I focus on flexibility and harmony. With the transitions and the sideway movements we wait until the second part of the training, until he has warmed up well and we do not repeat those too often. He is healthy, happy and fit. Riding is not only fun, it is also a form of physical therapy.
The amount and frequency of training depends on what you want to achieve and the type of horse you have. I am talking here from a luxurious situation, where horses live in a field every day. If not, they should be taken out of the stable as much as possible. But that is different from training. Socrates is a nervous hot-head. It is best to train them briefly every day. Not too many new things at a time. I offer a lot of relaxation and a few exercises. This is also better for older horses: a little every day. However, Dutch Design thrives better with some more time off in between, with the occasional long hack lasting two to three hours. He doesn’t want to go in a school every day. And when we are I have to do as many varied exercises as possible and not repeat too much to keep his attention. I used to train my international top horse Davy for a maximum of 3 to 4 times a week and always first in canter. What you should not do is do nothing for a longer period of time and then suddenly get to work. That is asking for trouble. If you want to know how that feels, do a 10 kilometers run untrained yourself.
Remember that muscle pain in horses does not manifest until later. People usually have this after 24 to 48 hours, horses after 36 to 72 hours. So if you’ve done a lot, take it easy until he’s recovered. Do not put him on rest but do a quiet hack with some trot or canter with a slightly longer neck.
We talked briefly about the difference between left and right. Check out the earlier blogpaosts. If you work on this, the “stiff” side becomes smoother. This feeling can switch sides after some time. Adjust according to what you feel.