We’re all time-poor these days; there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.
But with horses as with anything, your issue may not be about finding more time, but rather about making better use of the time you have. It’s quality, not quantity that you should be aiming for in your training. And three minutes is all you need.
The key to training a horse is achieving something each time you work together – no matter how small.
Three minutes doesn’t sound like much time to train a horse. But breaking down several “lessons” into bite-sized exercises is certainly achievable – you just need to be specific with what you’re wanting to do.
Billed as “60 amazingly achievable lessons to improve your horse (and yourself) when time is short”, 3-Minute Horsemanship gives you lots of little “projects” to work on, from the basics of handling on the ground to ridden lessons.
Among the 35 ground exercises are basics such as backing up, lowering the head, bending, moving the quarters and shoulders, placing the feet, and standing next to a fence – all of which put the groundwork in place for the 25 ridden exercises.
Each exercise is illustrated, and several build on previous tasks; for example, for ridden exercise #40 “Move the hind end over”, you will need to have done three of the ground work exercises.
The second part of the book gives 15 real-life scenarios, starting with trailer loading. As a training exercise, this usually will take longer than three minutes. But if some of the earlier lessons have been learnt, including ‘walk over unusual surfaces’, ‘lead through a narrow gap’, ‘place the front feet’, and ‘teach standing still’, then the preparation is done.
As the author says, “Remember, before each task always ask yourself, ‘What do I need to do before I do that’?”
Also included in the real-life scenario section, which covers both ridden and ground work, is opening and closing a gate, stopping a horse from barging into you, stopping biting, standing for hoof care, “spook” busting, napping, jogging when turning for home, traffic safety, and tying up.
I’ve started working through this book with my “student” – a four-year-old gelding yet to be started under saddle - and we’re making great strides already. I can’t want to get to the ridden work.
Vanessa Bee is the founder of the International Horse Agility Club and the author of the bestselling book The Horse Agility Handbook: A Step-by-Step Introduction to the Sport.
Vanessa has been around horses most of her life, working in racing stables throughout her teens, then driving competitively into her early twenties. With a degree in education and a qualified teacher, Vanessa has used her skills to develop a series of courses that teach people of all abilities and experiences to achieve a positive relationship with their horses (www.thehorseagilityclub.com). She lives in Devon.