A person is able to keep his attention span for about 20 minutes before something else enters his head. The coffee pot he left on will come flying into his head. A saddle sore, his wife, something. So the best amount of time to ride a horse is for about 20 minutes, then give yourself a 10 or 15 minute break and ride for 20 minutes again. If you know you’re going to work for 20 minutes, then you can focus and stay working hard for 20 minutes. But during that twenty minutes, you want to make something better. Ask yourself “What can I make better?” Find one thing and work to make it better.
The key to training is to find improvement in what you’re doing. That’s what keeps you going, what keeps you wanting more. You should never be satisfied with what you’ve got or what you’ve done. “Satisfied” is another word for “content” and that’s another word for “quitting.” Then you can’t go any farther. So never be satisfied and you’ll find that there’s always more to it, there’s always more to want.
Always raise your expectations. The whole time you’re riding, you need to be looking for the moment when you can begin asking for more. You’re looking for something to make better. Not everything, just something. Say you’re starting off and you’re just kind of moving around. You’re just out there changing directions. You don’t care how it looks; you’re just changing directions. After awhile you should begin staying in one direction till you see the nose start to go down, or you feel it start to soften up. Then build on that. Always ask for something to get better. Either he stays going the same speed, or his nose stays bent to the inside, or he softens up… something has got to get better. Stay there holding your horse until something improves, then release him and change directions.
The more the horse has to think about, the more chance the horse has to think, like trying to get to the other horse or trying to get out the gate or thinking about that back. The more you give him to think about, the less choices he has so give them something else to think about. Pick up speed, slow down, change directions. Soften his nose up, drops his ears, raise his ears, change direction, break at the poll.
About the authors
Josh Lyons: One of the most sought-after clinicians in the world, Josh Lyons offers you and your horse a second chance or an enhancement of your existing relationship. His gentle and objective methods, pioneered by his father John Lyons, have helped novice rider and pro alike. Josh continues the “Lyons Legacy,” teaching the John Lyons Certification Program in Parachute, CO and touring often. He is a frequent contributor to national publications like “Perfect Horse” and “Horse & Rider.” Find out more about Josh Lyons.
Keith Hosman: If your horse won’t speed up, slow down, stop or turn, you missed the latest training methods from Josh and John Lyons. Have you lost your confidence? Want a horse to brag about? Invest one weekend to make big changes with John Lyons Certified Trainer Keith Hosman. Keith is based near San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, private sessions and training. He frequently partners with fellow Certified Trainer Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations — with nearly 30 on his 2006 schedule. For more horse training articles, or to attend a clinic or find a John Lyons trainer living in your area, visit horsemanship101.com now. No part of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of Josh Lyons and Keith Hosman. To contact us regarding reprints or syndication of our articles (in print or online), please contact us via www.horsemanship101.com.