Trainer Tuesday: What’s a skill on or off the horse that you take the time to teach your riders despite how much more efficient it would be to continuously do it for them?

Welcome to Trainer Tuesday! Each week we ask trainers a question and gather their answers for you. These trainers have a range of experience, backgrounds, and focus points of their programs, so the answers have as much variation as you would expect and also probably much more similarity. 

This week’s question posed is: What’s a skill on or off the horse that you take the time to teach your riders despite how much more efficient it would be to continuously do it for them?

Here are their answers: 

“I teach all my riders (and grooms for that matter) to double lunge horses. In my business we have a lot of young horses, it makes such a difference to their progress for my riders to be able to teach them important lessons from the ground effectively. For the older horses I find it breaks the monotony of their training, and lets my riders visualize the ideal balance. Double lunging is tricky—it would be easier to do it myself, but it becomes an invaluable part of my rider’s toolbox.” -Lauren Kardel
Read Lauren’s advice on importing here.

“If we are talking about ALL riders, I teach them to halter, groom and tack up. Even if they have 10 horses and must have help to ride them all, they need to be competent in basic handling skills. We have to build horse people, not just riders, and it starts on the ground. If they have serious goals for their horsemanship and riding, I teach them how to work a horse in the round pen and understand herd behavior to increase influence with the horse.” -Mary Ann Thomas
Read about Mary Ann in The Plaid Horse here.

“Correct and effective leg wrapping and feet packing. While my steadfast grooms could do this all the time, I think it’s very important for equestrians to understand ways to help their horse and further understand how much damage can be done overnight if it is done improperly.” -Courtney Hayden-Fromm
Listen to Courtney on The Plaidcast here.

“Shortening their stirrups correctly and tightening their girth correctly while mounted. Both of these skills can be seen in videos on YouTube and are easier when seen then explained in words. Neither involves feet out of the stirrups!” -Robin Greenwood
Listen to Robin on The Plaidcast here.

“The one thing that I try to teach our students is how to correctly lead a horse or pony. Too often I see kids and adults dragging a horse behind them and/or turning to face a horse that won’t lead properly and basically playing tug of war. I teach them to start at the left shoulder with their right hand below the halter on the lead rope and the remainder of the lead in the left-hand. They are taught to ask the horse to walk with them and not behind them. They are taught to keep the horse at arm’s length, look straight ahead and move forward with purpose. I find this helps to translate to the show ring and modeling/jogging. Too many kids are not taught how to do that properly either.” -Melinda Zalesky
View Quicksilver Ponies in the May/June Issue here.

“I teach my riders every aspect of caring for their own horse; grooming, tacking up, bathing, wrapping, etc. In the beginning, it would take way less time for me, or a groom to just do it for them, but eventually they become very proficient and I can trust that they will do a great job. Within a short time, they can get their own horse ready and they can also bathe, wrap and put them away at the end of the day, with a little supervision, which saves a ton of time and work on my part.

I find that the kids love being responsible for the care of their horse and that they feel a real sense of accomplishment and pride in their skill at caring for their horse. I know how much I enjoy the the physical act of caring for my horses and just spending time grooming and learning about them. think it’s a disservice to kids to not take the time to teach them horse care and providing only full service grooms.” -Laurie Scott
Read Laurie’s articles here.

“I find that one of the most important skills as a rider is to be disciplined. To be early is to be on time! Also, each rider should be able to take a bridle apart and put it back together.” -Jodie Camberg

“There are many things I teach my riders off the horse. I teach them all how to body clip, wrap, braid manes and tails, pull manes, set courses, treat for abscess’s and general first aid amongst many things. I want all of my students to be well rounded equestrians. Only half of this sport is in the saddle! Even if braiding isn’t their ‘thing’ they can learn to respect how much work goes into the job. The same goes for body clipping and all the extras.

Until they are taught how to properly care for their horses or to understand what is entailed in taking care of them, then they will never fully grasp this sport. When all those extras are learned out of the saddle, I see them start to transform in the saddle. Everything is about creating a relationship with these animals, and it begins on the ground.” -Laura Reist

“Proper bandaging. It far more important than it is given credit for.” -Lori Hollands

“The one thing I’m adamant about in our barn is that riders conscientiously and carefully groom, tack and untack their horses and while doing so check for signs of injury, soreness, or changes from the last ride. I have a lot of riders that will pick up on small nuances because they know their horses so well, and while it can be a little time consuming to hear about every little nick and scrape, it’s also very rewarding to know that my riders from young to experienced are being given the opportunity to take the best care of their horse or pony they are able to at their stage of development as an equestrian.

I am actually really impressed with my younger kids that have an eye for detail and can pick up on their horse or pony’s mood swings or something minor that’s changed. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to do the work. No one shows up and steps on, we take the time to have a relationship with our partners and I think that comes back to us tenfold.” -Brittany Massey
Read Brittanty’s answers to The Plaid Horse Questionnaire here.

“I know you are looking for a skill but I teach my students all of it. Working as a Coach at a university with an equine program, they have to know all of the basics such as grooming, tacking, stall cleaning, bathing, tack cleaning, and then things like clipping, mane pulling, lunging, setting jumps, wrapping legs, and even giving medications. Even if they are on the team but not an equine major, they still need to know all the skills and to work independently.

When I first started working at the university it was hard for me to delegate and let go of some of the control. With my team captains, they oversee the packing and preparations before traveling which of course allows me to focus on riders, horses, and other tasks that I need to tend to.” -Heath Gunnison