Often, ‘taking a break’ is put in the context of your horse having a rest. But a lot of the time, it is so that the trainer can take a break. In general, if the horse is at a stage that you think needs a rest from the lesson then the rest that you have will prepare you more mentally for the next lesson that you have with your horse. There has been times in education where I have been busy with horse after horse, and the tough one comes through. The day is hot and the hours are running short. The lesson pushes on, the horse seems to have roughly done things that would seem like progress but you would have liked a better try or more progress so you ask again and for more. The horse starts finding the things that it has just done a little more difficult, suddenly your patience levels seems to have shortened and your stress levels are up. The ideal would have been that you reward the horse with a good rest when it first showed some signs of try, no matter how small they may have been. So, once you realise that your horse isn’t going that well, that you aren’t going that well, do you try to push the lesson to finish on a good note (which probably wont happen because you are already red in the face) or do you stop, go and have a cup of tea and come back in 5? Think about it. Think about the lesson. Think about other positive things, and re-start it when you are calm and ready. And then maybe, you might just go in, reward the horse for its small try’s and both leave on a happy note.
So, when you next set out to give your horse a lesson, have no preconceptions of where you want the lesson to end.
You do need a system in place for your training, but the system has to be flexible to tailor for individual horse needs, ability & mood swings. The system – or plan – is only there to keep you & the horse on track.