Influences in Paso Finos Training
I've discovered with Buckito that dedication is demanded at all times by a Paso Fino. This helps in having a good relationship with your horse and becoming a team. You need to be able to accept the good and bad qualities of your horse as well as yourself to reach full potentional.
To reach this full potentional you must be disciplined, there must be communication between you and your horse, you must be consistant and overall, you MUST be patient!! It could be difficult to reach your training goals without these.
From the moment you commit yourself to train your horse, you must be just as disiplined if not more so as you expect your horse to be. The horse will use your lack of discipline against you and not take it seriously. There must be commitment from you in order to see results. The horse must always respond and obey with respect while being rewarded for the good, but not pampered. Which I am guilty of doing at times with Kito, but Im also lucky to have a good connection with him.
Lunging before mounting and/or when they become uncontrollable is the best tool for gaining respect and getting your message across. Making the horse lunge in a small circle at full speed will get it's attention. You should do this as many times as needed be it in the ring or on a pleasure ride. When I first started training Buckito for trail I did this many times in a safe flat area if possible. I still use this tool after 2 years with him, one reason being I'm unable to ride as often as needed and he has his occassional moments.
Another way to develop discipline under saddle is to stop the horse every time it acts up and start over with the same thing you were trying to accomplish. This will tell them that work will go on and will end faster, the moment they stop acting up. If this does not work, then dismount and lunge on the spot until you get the horse's attention again. Buckito hates when this happens! It doesn't take long to get your point across. One mistake commonly made is trying to fight the horse while you're on it's back. Don't!! They will eventually win. Discipline will assure you improvement on the horse's part as you progress throught the training cycle.
A Paso grows in stages, physically and mentally: which are not always simutaneous. Getting to know your horse is the best asset you can achieve before you start riding. Your horse may not always respond as quickly and accuratly as you like at the start. Being able to determine the reason why this is happening will allow you to reach a goal faster. This is where patience and communication comes in.
Your patience should be long term to enable you to understand your goal and the reality of YOU actually getting your horse there. This could take months to years, depending on what you desire to do with your horse be it a trail/pleasure buddy or a show buddy. You must map out a plan to guide your horse step by step. Maturity is normally reached aroun 5 years old. Kito will be 5 soon and I can see a big difference in him from last year at this time. This maturity age gives you an idea on how long your work will be, and throughout it all you should remember that your dedication is the key to success. Patience is NOT always easy, especially when you have next to none. Between raising a child and training a Paso I've realized I DO have some though:o)
Dealing with the daily schedule is your short term patience. You and your horse both will have good and bad days. Be sure not to go overboard with expectations on the bad days, and know when to quit on the good days. Simply by maintaining the same level as the day before you have accomplished something. It's when you have to keep going over the same thing with no progress you have a problem.
Things that can ruin your work is loosing your cool, pushing too hard too fast, taking out your frustraions on your horse by punishing him and not knowing the difference between when YOU are having a bad day instead of your horse. Set a goal at the beginning of each session so that progress is fluid and positive. Oh Yes, this can be extremly hard to do at times, I've had several of these days myself, and they take you nowhere.
When I'm working with Buckito I'm basically a total slave to him, much to my husbands and daughters dismay(they do thankfully understand). I try to figure out what he needs and bring that out with our work. If I can't figure it out, I ask someone I think may know. Every move made around your horse will have an affect, and we may not always be happy with the outcome. This is where communication comes in. A Paso is always on the lookout for it's surroundings and feels every move you make. Being in tune with your horse, that bond, makes the training process much easier..
To realisticly reach your goal you should plan a routine and follow it religously. This is where you need to work on your consistency. When you start your horse under saddle keep the workouts short. As your horse gains confidence begin increasing the workout times. Repetition is the key to a horses learning. Be sure to keep your style the same continuously. I've been lucky with Buckito. Due to health problems I've been unable to work him as I did the first year I had him where we worked together every day. This lack of consistiency on my part has simply kept Kito from progressing farther than he could be at this time. He has acted up a few times when I would first start working him, but after a few lunging exercises he would calm down and get to work. I am still very happy with him, as he matures mentally he picks things up faster and seems to remember them well. I have started trying to do a little ground work with him daily here lately and it has helped.
Always reinforce the things learnd the previous day before moving on to something new. Don't rush your horse or you will more than likely confuse him. Your horse depends upon you for his commands, and by changing your style you will confuse him while trying to figure out what you want from him. Your Consistency will help improve your horses discipline.
All this may seem like plain common sense, but many overlook their importance.