When it comes to training your horse, your imagination is your greatest tool. The more creative you can be in your lessons, the more interested your horse will be in his job. You’ve heard me say, “Consistency is your greatest ally and inconsistency is your greatest enemy.” And that’s absolutely true. It will take you a very long time to train your horse if you’re inconsistent. However, just as important as consistency is, you have to be sure to include variety. Variety means mixing it up for your horse and keeping him guessing at what you’re doing. It keeps him interested in his job and on his toes. However, you have to learn to balance the two. Too much consistency and the horse will get bored and resentful in his job. Too much variety and he will never learn anything.
I love to incorporate objects laying around the ranch into my horse’s daily training. Here I’m using two camping chairs to practice suppling exercises, but you can use any object that you have at home. Although I’m practicing an exercise I normally do on a daily basis, by incorporating the chairs into the exercise, I’m adding variety. Always keep in mind that your imagination is your greatest tool, so use it!
What’s going on in the photo: You can back your horse around objects. Here I’m backing my horse in a figure-8 around the two chairs. Notice how light he is? I love backing my horses in circles because it gets them really soft throughout their entire body. I practice backing circles a lot with my reiners because it’s a great exercise to prep them for spins and rollbacks. When you back the horse in circles, his inside front foot steps back and over – just the way it must when executing a spin or rollback. You can mix it up for the horse by backing serpentines around the chairs so that he has to constantly shape and bend his body in different directions. You’ll know your horse is really soft when he doesn’t lift his head or neck above his withers when he’s changing directions.