Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: How to Discipline

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Photo by Kasey Mueller

Photo by Kasey Mueller

At some point in our training, there will be a need to discipline the horse. This needs to be carefully thought out, because the level of discipline always needs to match the horse’s mistake. Over doing it for a minor thing will cause the horse not to trust us or like his work; however, if we are too lenient, we can have an ongoing problem that can escalate. Any discipline done in anger or frustration is unproductive.

Most of the corrections we make are minor ones — the horse being slow off our leg or ignoring a half halt. We start getting into a more aggressive correction for horses that are stopping at a jump. Where we need to be really careful is when horses are being nappy, starting to seriously buck or are rearing.
I always make sure that I think that I can follow through and handle the results of my discipline. If the discipline I use causes the horse to react in a way that puts me in a place I may get hurt, I will try to find another solution. Don’t be a hero; it isn’t worth it.
When I am teaching, I am very careful to only ask the rider to make the corrections that I think the horse will respond to without overreacting. Sometimes we have to strategically find a way out of the problem and then address it another day. I have not run into a horse that is permanently ruined if the problem cannot be worked through in that moment. Occasionally, having a professional get on and help sort out the problem is the best way to go.

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