Training Theory: Retrospective Learning

The phenomenon whereby, as if by magic, a horse who is given time off with a fallow mind and no pressure suddenly becomes proficient at an exercise that eluded him when his trainer last left him.

Learning takes place during an exercise in each of its phases: the introduction, the practice and the fine-tuning. However, many times, it seems that a horse is just not “getting it”. The temptation is to double-down: to work harder and longer.

If you have been working consistently for a few days and have run into a road block, try easing up. Give your pony a rest. The brain works in mysterious ways, and horses seem to be able to “digest” a lesson if given pressure-free time off. Usually, one day off is enough to “set” an exercise. Sometimes, two days. Use a rain-out as a constructive Retrospective Learning Training day.

Horse training can be dangerous. Not all methods work on all horses. Instruction presented here is not meant to be prescriptive in nature, and takes no responsibility for the welfare of any animal or person using our methods.

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