END WITH THE PERFECT START - BY DON JESSOP

END WITH THE PERFECT START - BY DON JESSOP

August 21, 2018 4 Comments

END WITH THE PERFECT START

Do you end on a good note when you play with your horse? What if I told you that you may be making one of the biggest mistakes novice trainers make by ending on a good note every time you play? Not that ending on a good note is a bad idea, it's just that it's only half way to a good product or end result. 

Let me explain by giving you an example of what I'm talking about.

If I ask my horse to canter and he kicks up his heels in the transition, I wouldn't be naive enough to reward the ill behavior, so naturally, I would persist by pushing him into a nicer canter. After a few bad steps he finally gives me a few great steps. So naturally, I would quit, just as I should. That's what we call "ending on a good note." But here is the problem.

If I end there, there is zero guarantee that my horse linked in his brain that the good steps of canter is exactly what I wanted. It's entirely possible that he linked the good and the bad together. In other words... he may express ill behavior related to the canter again, in spite of the fact that I ended on a good note because horses remember more than people think. Therefore, the ill behavior persists in spite of my attempts to be perfect.

The great thing is, there is a solution. There is a way to ensure a virtual guarantee that the problem will NOT persist beyond any great length of time. I call it, "ENDING WITH THE PERFECT START!"

Here is how it works: It's a simple process of cycling through the ill behavior to get to the good behavior, over and over and over until the horse starts out perfect. That's the note I want to end on. That's the point that I will put my horse away and be done. Not because I ended on a good note once, but because I ended on a good note so many times, that I actually started on a good note, in the end. 

The way I do this is simple. I call it "resetting the day!" Horses tend to lose track of what happened ten minutes ago. Their attention is fleeting. That's why, after sitting for too long, the horse will often start out poorly in any given activity. I use this phenomenon to my advantage. Put in new words, I end on a good note, wait ten minutes then ask to see if I can start on a good note.

If I cannot start well after ten minutes, I will most certainly have a rough start the next day. So why would I put my horse away after such a poor start? I wouldn't. Neither should you. If I can start well, the likelihood of starting well the next day increases dramatically.  Using the ten minute rest window acts like a reset. It's almost like it's a new day, and I get to see if my horse remembers anything from the previous day.  It's truly one of my biggest goals as a professional, to have a horse start the day well, not just end the day well.  To get to that result, I must not end on a good note alone. Instead, I must end on the perfect start. I must cycle through the bad, ending each time on the good, then reset the day, over and over, until my horse comes out perfectly from the start. At that point, I'm finished for the day and I won't see my horse again for another twenty four hours. Without fail, my horse starts out better the next day. No ill behavior can persist with this kind of training. This leaves more room for higher level training day after day.

Try it for yourself. Try resetting the day, over and over until you can end with the perfect start. Pick your worst problem and address it in this way. It may take you two hours to solve the problem, but the next day it will only take you two minutes. If you truly end with the perfect start, you will find you can solve any problem in the world. The only caveat to all this, is if your horse has a physical limitation and shouldn't be pushed to it's physical stress levels. In this case you must make good judgments about what your horses body can take. But if there is no physical limitation in your horse, try out the theory of ending with the perfect start and notice how even the worst of problems can be resolved in a matter of days.

Comment below, I want to hear about your results. I want to hear about your questions too. I'll send a private email to you, if you have a question in the comment. Thanks for reading

Don



4 Responses

Don Jessop
Don Jessop

August 23, 2018

Hi, thank you for your question Sue The answer to your question is very simple but always overlooked, even by big names in the industry. If you want a smoother gait, work on smoothing out the transitions between the gaits. In other words, practice walk, trot, walk, trot, walk, trot, walk, trot, walk, trot, walk, trot, until the cows come home, so to speak. Or trot canter, trot, canter. Either side of the gait will smooth out the inside of the gait. Give it a try and get back to me. But just so you know, it’s not an overnight fix because you’re developing muscles, not just brain memory. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Don

Susan Clark
Susan Clark

August 22, 2018

I have visions of a calm, rhythmical, supple floating trot! I have a 16.3 Clyde/Stationbred cross gelding, very obedient etc. etc. but our trot has not yet developed to match my description lol It is rhythmical but it doesn’t feel ‘soft’ and not always between the hand and the leg? How do people develop that wonderful looking trot? The canter is great…well balanced etc. Looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers

Marilyn Miller
Marilyn Miller

August 22, 2018

Hi Don, Derby would do a lot of head tossing and pulling out when I’d ask him to start going out for the circling game. Eventually he’d settle down so I thought it was okay. But I realized it was a problem of a poor start, so now when he did the head toss, even a little bit, I ask him to stop (not come in) and then ask him to go on the circle again. I do this as many times as it takes for him to start out calmly. When he does start out calmly I only let him go around a half circle and bring him in right away for a rest/reward. This has worked wonders! When doing a pre-flight check before getting on, I do some stick-to-me moves, for connection, and then a simple send on a circle. If he can do it calmly, I know we’re good to go! He doesn’t need to go trotting or cantering around endlessly.

Vicki
Vicki

August 22, 2018

If my horse needs more strength in the hind quarters how do I increase strength. I am working on transitions from walk to trot to canter then trot to walk. Right lead canter is hard for me and the horse to get into rhythm with each other. What do you think I can do.

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