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Article Archives

Starting your own colt
Colt Starting Quiz
Problem Horses, part 1
Fear Problems, part 2
Bad Actors, part 3
The Cold Backed Horse
Want to Compete?
Bit Basics
Going Places
Common Sense, Horse Sense
Horsemen's Christmas
Rainy Day Training
Try Something Different!
Green Broke
Resolution Time
Going in Circles
Hot Enough for Ya?
Pleasure or Equitation?
Return to Work Carefully
Saving your "Good Stuff"
Holding Western Reins
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Cold Weather Warm Up
Expect the Unexpected, 1
Expect the Unexpected, 2
Bad Attitude
Horse of a Better Color?
Power of Exercise
Importance of the Herd
Bath Time
Even Up
Choosing a Martingale
A Good Night's Sleep
Alternative Therapies, Part One
Alternative Therapies, Part Two
Get the Most out of a Clinic
Blanket or No Blanket?
Does Practice Make Perfect?

A Change of Pace

They say variety is the spice of life, and certainly for our horses, doing something different can spark up their interest and give us as riders new opportunities as well. Horses that are bored with the routine often develop negative habits. Some horses will look for “spookies” and others will become lazy and unresponsive. Some just get sour and don’t want to go to work at all. But, it’s often more comfortable for riders to stick with the familiar than to try something new.

Expanding your horsemanship horizons can be as easy as attending a clinic or taking a lesson in a new discipline. Even if you never plan to compete or even become an expert in the new field, trying something new with your horse is a great way to increase your knowledge and appreciation for other types of riding, along with building trust and confidence between you and your mount.

Most any horse will benefit from getting out of the arena and onto the trails, and trail riding can be tailored to fit the physical needs of both the horse and rider. An easy amble on a level trail is perfect for older or compromised equines, while a more challenging ride can teach an energetic young horse a little about maturity and work. Trail riding over different terrains is also one of the best ways to condition a horse, without risking the burn-out that comes from repeated maneuvers in an arena.

If your riding routine is getting stale, consider trying a new discipline, even if just for fun. Nearly any sound horse can learn to jump low obstacles, dressage will improve overall training and responsiveness, and working with cattle is never boring! If your horse is green and inexperienced, start with controlled environments such as clinics or lessons, where there will be more experienced horses and riders around to lead the way and help you.

From a training standpoint, it’s the new and varied activities that give us the opportunity to test our horse’s level of understanding; does he go forward when we ask, even if there is a creek in the way? A horse that panics in new situations has not learned to trust his rider for guidance and needs more basic work before being pushed into stressful situations. By taking small steps in the new directions the young horse will learn that he can do new things, and will become a more reliable mount in all situations. The trainer has to think ahead and plan to move the horse into new experiences at a schedule that the young horse can handle, but if new experiences are a regular part of the training plan, it doesn’t take long for the horse to build up the trust and training.

I know a horse who has won multiple state championships in Western Pleasure, Trail and Showmanship – all horse show events. But this horse also has competed at trail trials, is certified as a Search and Rescue mount, has been ridden in parades, has gathered cattle on ranches and worked as a pony horse for starting colts. This well-rounded gelding didn’t get that versatile overnight – his riders made a point of exposing him to a wide variety of activities – but it sure made him into a fun horse to have around! His owner doesn’t have to be bored with just one event. So, look around and try something new with your horse this year. There’s no reason to be bored on horseback.


Doris Eraldi of Eraldi Training in Potter Valley, specializes in Pleasure, Showmanship and Equitation events, but this year is also taking Dressage lessons. She can be contacted at 707-743-1337, or by e-mail

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