What to do when your Young Horse goes through a phase

First off, no need to panic.

Training is not linear, and things won’t always improve without also falling apart in some other aspects.

Second, I’m telling myself it’s OK, to believe in the plan, but stay open for new ideas.

So, Valiosa has become increasingly “soft” in the contact.  A bit of curling, instead of having a consistent weight in the reins.

An evasion.


Even with the lightest hands.  Pushing her forward is the key, and ignore her being behind the vertical here and there.

no steady connection

See, she does it here and there in posting trot as well.  (I also highly recommend not posting images like this online if you want to pretend you know everything and look perfect all the time.)

not taking bit contact

She’s a smart horse.  We’ll get past this.  No need to get weird about how ridiculous it feels sometimes.

Repeat:  It’s a phase, she’ll get past it.  It’s a phase, she’s a young horse and she’ll get past this.  It’s a phase, you’re training a young horse and she’ll get past it.

No need to panic.

(OK, is it working yet?!!)

Happy riding weekend!


16 thoughts on “What to do when your Young Horse goes through a phase

  1. Va? Jag tycker att det åtminstone på två bilder ser ut som hon bär sig själv istället för att du bär henne. Det är ju superbra! Ryggen fin och bakbenen under sig. Öron hängande åt sidan som lyssnar på dig. Bästa ridbilderna på dig o Valiosa tycker jag.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Åhh. Andas ut! Låter bättre.
      Hon känns väldigt fin att sitta på när vi kommit hit, men ibland känns hon lite väl lätt i munnen då. Tänker lägga mindre vikt vid detta nu ett tag!


  2. Try this just as an experiment and see what happens. To ask for more forward, open your thighs and move them back momentarily. The whole leg, not just from the knee down. More than a tiny squeeze is not necessary, it’s more like just a touch. Keep your position in the rest of your body (no leaning forward or back). Keep heels down. You may, if you’re lucky, get a little surge of impulsion and a tiny reach for the bit. Don’t hold this position, it’s just a momentary change then a release, saying “get in front of my leg”. If you get a reaction, heap on the praise, wait a few moments and try again.

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  3. It really is a phase and she will get past it. Riding is all about balance: your and hers. She’s figuring out how to balance herself. Don’t get sucked into worrying too much about where her head is, just keep riding her back to front and thinking about tempo and how her back feels. The head/neck will take care of itself in time and become more stable.

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      1. Tempo is a good thing. “Go but slow” is what a trainer of mine used to say. So think about a sense of forward but not rushing. So many people rush horses off their feet and then they end up on the forehand. Good luck and use lots of transitions (within the gait – little half halts – and from walk/trot/walk). Have fun with your so lovely Valiosa!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I’ve been forced down that route of rushing with another horse before. He stepped off two front shoes over the course of three lessons. No point in it all! We didn’t continue that needless to say.
          Valiosa would be extremely hard pressed to be rushed off her feet – for her it’s more of a ever fluctuating tempo that never seems to really “settle”. Hoping to work to more solid, forward, tempo!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Love this! I had a trainer who used to say all you want for any and every young horse is “slow and go”- she’s relaxed, her ears are happy- you focus on rhythm/speed and direction. This is very common in babies. They are like riding fish with feet- they wiggle side to side and flop about quite a bit. It’s very tiring work. I’m training a 5 year old Arab right now and when she does this I open the thigh, as someone else suggested, and if she braces into the connection I lift the hand up and forward a little to guide her- or slightly open the inside rein if on a circle- very subtle things that say “no, no, you can go forward, I won’t block you.” Remember there is a lot of “movement” to a steady hand connection. Then sure enough she’ll become a fish and wiggle out somewhere, but our job is to just keep riding and rewarding consistently. The more you relax, the more the rest will come. Relax your hip, relax your shoulder and neck and jaw- you look tight. I bet you are a perfectionist like me! This is the hardest part for us! Trying to feel more and not “think” so much. I can almost see your wheels cranking the steam out of your ears you look so focused and “in” your head (if that makes sense!). Please don’t take offense- I see a lot of myself in these pictures so am guessing based on that.

          Love following your blog- it often helps me get inside the heads of some of my students. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

          1. No offense at all! I’m grateful for any input – and yes, I am definitely on of the “thinking” and stiffer riders. Some attributed to just how I am, fairly rigid and strut around with a certain tone in the body at all times. This transfers over into the riding too, of course.
            Love the analogy of riding a fish – that pretty much sums it up! Although my fish is sort of a slow flapping, beached one, on its last breath 😉


  4. Hi Elinor, I love how you document the education of Valiosa with all its ups and downs 🙂 If only everyone had a little of your self-criticism, I think many many horses would have a chance of being heard 😉

    Looking forward to the next chapter!
    Greetings from Warsaw 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bettina! As humbling as it is, it’s very helpful for me too. Just writing about it all. Sort of a process – and I LOVE to hear back from others, from all over the world, who can relate to it all. Loving my little blog right now, and hope to be able to post fun updates in the future as well 🙂 (Please!) Haha!


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