How to Make Steady Progress With Your Horse

When thinking about training steps, we tend to think in, well, steps. You complete step 1 and then progress to step 2 and so on. This is logical for our human brains but isn’t actually the best way to train our horses (or ourselves!). The problem with progressing in steps is that you repeat the same thing until it’s perfect, which often leads to over-repetition, and then suddenly step up to the next level which is a big leap in what you expect your horse to offer. Instead, you want to creep forwards like the tide – a natural ebb and flow as you make steady progress while maintaining your horse’s interest, focus and confidence.

I explain this concept in this video with a super demonstration from Bernie, a rescued pony at Hope Pastures rescue centre.



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6 thoughts on “How to Make Steady Progress With Your Horse”

  1. Superbly explained and illustrated, Hannah. It’s the sort of thing that people with ‘natural’ skills use without thinking, but there is so much emphasis on breaking things down and linking them together, that this ebb & flow idea gets lost in the woodwork. Thank you. :-).

    1. I think you’re right – this comes naturally to many great trainers so they aren’t aware they’re doing it. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. That was just what I needed. Former owner said that Hunk was great with his feet and the farrier. When I responded to that by a relaxed effort to pick up and clean out his feet for the first time (and we get along wonderfully otherwise)…he was somewhat resistance and got worse and worse with anxiety. We didn’t make all four, the last one was way over threshold for him, so just a little pick up as I went down his leg, treat, that was enough. Poor, big, strong, handsome, sweetheart.

    It was said, then, that he was very good for man farriers – but that was not true either, when the man farrier came. No way was he willing to be trimmed at all.

    Now I know I have some good work to do, to help him recover.

    And he has been more reserved in other ways, also, since those two events. I haven’t touched his legs the two days since.

    This video is so timely, giving me the info to start from the shoulder and work down, and up and down, slowly.

    His feet are not in trouble, the ground is rocky here and they were quite well worn on their own. They need a git of balancing.

    I have been trimming my two donkeys since I got them five and a half years ago (Lovey, since her birth), and will buy some new tools and continue myself – buying a hoof stand and teaching them to use it, will make that easier for me as I continue being a senior (with scar tissue in back muscles that got torn some 7 years ago while nursing (from repeated strains)…which is why I would appreciate a very good farrier. But with Connection training, and a hoof stand that I will get, I’ll do it myself…since I know I can.

    Lovey was trimmed by this man six months ago, and he found a screw imbedded a hoof and had to tend to that. She was given some sedation, I am told (I was far away in the east). He even drove to get a tetnus shot and gave it to her. So I appreciate his doing that when I was away. Lovey looked like a deer in the head lights when she saw him, and she did need a trim. Sally had told me he was totally against hand feeding. So while he trimmed Lovey’s Mother, I informed him that I click and feed and how it works, and he could see and feel how it worked as he proceeded. Asshlee was an angel.

    Then I noted that Lovey was clearly frightened, after her last experience with him of the nail in the hoof, so please work with me and let me help relax her before you pick any hoof up, each time. He huffed a bit, but followed my instructions and afterwards, said he was amazed at how my clicker training made a hug difference, he though she would have to be sedated, or there was going to be a big fight. I said, no fights with my donkeys.

    When I get everything going well with Hunk and Lovey, and I think their work with me is solid. I WILL ask him to return to trim a bit, and test, and show my success, for one day something might happen that is more then I can handle and I will want to call him. I think I’ll get him out twice a year, as long as I can tend there feet between, so that they will be okay if I need him one day. He came Veterinarian recommended for hoof talents, working for the Vet on clients horses in trouble.

    Thanks Hannah, and the rest of the Connection Training crew, for all the wonderful help and insight with so many different equines.


    1. Hi MaryAnna, thanks for your comment and glad the video helped. Your horses and donkeys are lucky to have you and you’ll get there with the feet, though these things can take time if there is a negative history there to overcome. I love how you insisted that your farrier do it your way and he that he saw the difference – great work! No fighting with your donkeys!! Love this post, keep up the great work 🙂

  3. Yes very good post. I use this kind of method in my training but mostly unconsciously. It’s nice to have it explained like this though, so that it can be a tool to be used with more conscious intention 🙂

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