How do you further your equestrian education?

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    How do you learn as an equestrian?
    Students in a college equine science program take their equestrian education to the next level. Photo: Lesley Ward

    Having a horse of your own has a lot of benefits. You develop a bond, an understanding. You learn each others’ idiosyncrasies and adapt accordingly. You know your horse’s personality so well that notice immediately when something is amiss. Your horse anticipates your cues so well that you think he might be able to read your mind.

    These same benefits can also be liabilities when it comes to your progression as a rider. Instead of having to fix your bad habits as a rider or while working around horses, they persist as your horse has adapted to them. Likewise, you’ve started to ignore your horse’s quirks and forget that you shouldn’t let him get away with certain things.

    Riding and working with horses is a never-ending learning process, but one that you might start to neglect when you reach a comfort zone with your own horse. What steps do you take to continue improving as a horseperson?

    There are plenty of ways to make sure that your skills as a rider and horseperson don’t become stagnant. You can take lessons on your own horse or attend clinics with different trainers to get feedback on your riding and your horse’s performance. You can sign up for lessons at a different stable to get some saddle time on horses other than your own. You can have someone videotape your rides so that you can see problems that you might not catch while you’re in the saddle. Even reading books and articles or watching training videos can help you get new ideas on how to improve your riding.

    Click “Submit a Comment” below and tell us what you are doing—or what you’d like to do—to improve your skills as a rider and horseperson. Some of our favorite responses may be printed in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

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    86 COMMENTS

    1. I read many vet books, magizines, and just about any other horse related items. Then I write down useful tips and diagrams that might help me in the future so I can be an Equine vet!

    2. I read Horse Illustrated, Equus, and Horse and Rider magazines. I have a lot of Clinton Anderson dvds and books too!

    3. RFDTV lots of great trainers John Lyons to Pat Parrelli and Clinton Anderson. Also great magazines Horse Illustrated and Horse and Rider plus I also annoy my farrier and many older generation riders that can give advice. I also read any book fiction and non fiction because they all have bits of information that is of great use

    4. Honestly, I just learn other horse mentors! If you can accompany a trainer to a horse show or fox hunt, or hang around when the vet, farrier, or equine dentist comes, you can learn so much. I also take lessons, which helps me improve in my riding, and also my knowledge of horses, as my instructor is a walking encyclopedia. I hardly ever drive away from the barn not knowing something new and interesting.

    5. When you love horses so much and want to know more about them and want to be able to know what to do and what things are, the two best thing you should do are to one:hang out at barns when the farrier or vet come and ask plenty of questions about things you don’t understand.two:Read.Reading I’d say is one of the best ways because you can learn so much when someone can’t just come up to you and tell you about it.

    6. I take lessons, go to shows, and most importantly I set realistic goals for me and the horse I ride to achieve. It can be something as simple as getting her to pick up her feet easier. As long as we have a goal to reach for we can always improve.

    7. I further my equine education 2 ways.
      First, I listen to my horse. He is more human than horse-like in his communication skills, and we’re very comfortable with each other. He has no hesitation showing me a problem before I can physically see that there is a problem.
      Secondly, I figure the more I know, the safer my boys will be. I don’t take anybody’s word for it when it comes to my horses’ health. I need to cross reference, research, and research.

    8. I read as much information as possible and attend clinics in my area, although I dont take lessons I take the info from what is available and apply it at home.

    9. I take a multi-faceted approach to my continuing equestrian education.
      First, I continue to take lessons whenever possible. My favorite lessons are those spent on the lunge line under the watchful eye of my Dressage coach. I’ll also check in regularly with my old mentor, a long time breeder/trainer I spent three years apprenticing under. He’s always full of great suggestions and insights to help me improve my riding or help me overcome a training hurdle.
      I also attend classes, seminars, and lectures sponsored by my local horseman’s association and hosted by a local tack store. These events are commonly taught by some the best veterinarians, farriers, nutritionists, and trainers in my area.
      And of course I spend a lot of time on Horsechannel.com reading, watching online videos, and chatting in the forums!

    10. Reading articles in Horse Illustrated and on Horse Channel helps me improve my riding and horsemanship skills, and for hands-on experience I take lessons on my horse. But as for any horse owner, the most important way to learn more about my horse is to observe her. I can sit in the pasture for hours and watch how she interacts with other horses, how she chooses to spend her day. I have learned more from observing my horse than a thousand lessons could teach me.

    11. well, living where so many people have and love horses its almost imposable to not learn something new! I also love to read through different articles about natural horse keeping. so now thanks to where I live and horse illustrated, my horse is happy and very healthy!

    12. Magazine articles are a great source of information, as well as online articles, like those on HorseChannel. I also like to scan forum discussions for many different viewpoints and ideas. Plus, just watching another rider, especially an experienced rider, can be very helpful in getting past tough riding issues. Once when I was having difficulty getting the right rhythm for posting the trot, I went and watched lots of videos of riders posting the trot. The next week, I kept that image in my mind, and I had a much easier and smoother time riding the rising trot.

    13. Honestly, though I have a great trainer, my horse is my best teacher. He’s taught me that dressage is a conversation between horse and rider–and since we’re both perfectionists, he’s never afraid to express his displeasure when I’m not riding correctly! The more I learn to listen to my horse, the better he goes, whether this means a 9 on a shoulder-in or that he could use standing wraps and a poultice. My hot, onery old stallion has helped me to grow as a rider and a horseperson.

    14. A horse teaches you the most important stuff; from love to hurt and from important to unimportant and from fine details to the little details. Every single day you learn a new thing from horses. They don’t just make you stronger in the arms and legs and body, they make you a strong person with a strong will and a strong desire. You learn the strongest relationship that comes with them.
      There are other places to keep up the knowledge. I have a very intelligent instructor who I also learn a lot from, as well as the manager and the rest of the barn bums. Equestrian information can come from a variety of places, but the best comes from the horses.

    15. As a rider, I just ride for fun. But as I get older, I would like to buy a more inexperienced horse that would be a great barrelracer, and then I would learn how to train them to become the best. But as a horsekeeper, I don’t really learn that much. I do learn a lot from my horses, especially when they develop some sort of illness that I need to check out, or when something strange happens to them. But other than that, my routine is the same everday.

    16. I keep improving as a rider by riding. The mare that I ride can get barn sour after we’ve been riding for awhile, and I have learned how to “talk” to her in a way that she will listen to me and keep going.

    17. I learn just from being around my horse, and the other horses at the barn. When something goes wrong, I try to find the source of it, read about it A LOT, and making sure that if it was caused by me, that i won’t do it again. I’m learning a lot, because there is always SOMETHING going wrong in my world, haha! Horses just add that little bit of excitement.

    18. I improve by reading and riding as much as I can. Lots of groundwork helps me get in touch with my mare, too. But I primarily spend lots of time reading horse magazines, books, etc. I firmly believe that books are a fountainhead of knowledge!

    19. I talk to my trainer a lot, watch other people’s lessons, and generally just watch people ride. I also learn by reading books. But the best way to learn is to experience it yourself!

    20. I continue my riding education by participating in clinics, going to horse shows, reading books, watching professional training videos, but most of all, spending time with the best teacher i could ask for, my 9 year old appendix mare Abby!

    21. I would really like to train horses to ride using humanes methods like Monty Roberts and Pat Parelli! I think that would be fun, because you can learn more about reading the horse and its feelings!

    22. In competitive riding,I think the best way to further an equestrian education is to talk to other competitors, ask a judge at shows for his personal opinion (I learn alot) and try their advice at home. The perfect solution is to choose the one you and your horse exels with. Tada! You’ve learned a new and invaluable lesson!

    23. I used to get lessons from a few different people. But now i go to various clinics and talk to judges and other good riders at horse shows. Some times a video tape my ride and play it back to find faults. But I like to enjoy myself and just be around my horse, too. Its not all about competions.

    24. I buy information packed horse books, subscribe to Horse Illustrated, and I ask my trainer. As I said above, the horse books I buy are filled with useful information and so is Horse Illustrated. My trainer will answer my questions, and I’ll also just take little bit to study my horse and the horses around him.

    25. Even though I ride my own horse, I also ride other horses, like when I ride at my lesson, I use one of the school horses. Each horse helps in different ways, like I want to ride this new school horse named Mary, I’m hoping that Mary will help me get over my fear of falling off after I had this terrible fall, and getting worked up over the jumps. I also do ride my friends horses sometimes. I think it’s really fun to try other disciplines, like barrel racing, or dressage, even driving. I always try to do something different with may horse. Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazine help me improve my riding to, and have fun exercises for me to try on horseback and off the horseback.

    26. I ride other horses as well as my own. I read every horse related book that I can get my hands on. I also talk to me trainer who lets me ride some of the lesson horses to refresh my ability.

    27. Trial and Error has taught me a lot. I also read a lot of magazines, inluding Horse Illustrated, and have read many horse books. I lease and take lessons on different horses and they have taught me a lot throughout my life!

    28. I improve my riding by riding different horses, I also will read books and magazines,maybe even possible videos, and even perhaps from my horsey friends will give me pointers!

    29. I take lessons from the very person who trained my horse 15 years before I got him. She recognized many problem that may have hindered my ability to win ribbons or trophies. I also have my friends take pictures and videotape me, then I always critique myself, even if its the littlest thing. They think I’m a little nuts for being hard on myself, but it helped me improve!

    30. When I ride, I try to understand what my horses movements are telling me. I always try to do something different so my horse will not get bored. I also read books to further my relationship with my best friend so we can become one, and to further my riding skills. Mostly I just want to do well enough that my horse loves and enjoys when I spend time with him.

    31. I have a lot of “horsey friends”, or friends who are involved with horses, and when we ride together I always ask them about what problems they are experience with their horses and remember what they do to solve them, so when I come across that problem, I know what to try. I also love reading HORSE ILLUSTRATED! The magazine really helps further my horse education.

    32. I don’t own a horse of my own, but I do take riding lessons. It is kind of nice to be able to have the chance to ride other horses and get to know how they will react to certain things. Once or twice a year the stable I ride at has schooling shows. With the help of my instructor I get to learn and advance through new courses in Dressage and Hunt Seat. Sometimes the stable gives clinics and day camps that I have attended. I also like to read magazines (like Horse Illustrated) and get tips to improve my riding.

    33. For some reason I always go and do the easy stuff first. Honestly I would do the basics then after I master that I will do jumps and awesome shows. Then my instructor would say that it’s time for a more advanced horse.

    34. Because I am still realatively new to working with horses, I learn something everytime I go to the barn, whether I ride or not! I also take weekly ridnig lessons and attend clinics whenever possible.

    35. What i would do to help improve my riding is to have a more experienced rider get on my horse so i can see the mistakes i make. I also just do whatever i can to become more experienced and just have fun. Because that’s what it’s all about; just having fun!

    36. I ride as many horses as possible and as much as possible. Each horse has something they can teach you, whether that horse is completely finished or just in the beginning of its training. I also take internships with trainers and glean as much information from them as possible!

    37. I read, read, read! I have two different 300+ page All About Horses Books. I own a notepad that I fill daily with tons of info. I also check out every book possible at my local library! I can’t stop! I have searched desperately for horse books online and even researched online! Also, I plan to buy a Ebook type thing, so I can buy them whenever I want! (As long as I have the money!) I even have subscriptions to two horse magazines that I read cover to cover in a day! I guess you could say I love horses and know quite a bit about them!

    38. My horse, Kootenai, and I barrel raced all last season and they really made us become very close as a team but we decided to take this year off to have some fun and enjoy our time together. One of the things that have really helped me improve as a rider are the many bareback rides we enjoy. It’s improved my balance and helps me to understand the way Koot’s body moves! We have barrel raced bareback and even dipped our hooves into some bareback and bridleless riding. All of this has made us extremely close and taught me just how special my little pony really is 🙂

    39. Research! When I’m not actually riding, I’m looking things up to get better ideas of what I’m supposed to be doing. That is how my horse and I became such a great team for Trail competitions. I also take lessons from a great coach that definitely knows his stuff.

    40. Work with a trainer! I take a weekly lesson on my own horse and my trainer can point out things that need improvement or just need to be done differently. In winter I go and take lessons on different horses when I can’t ride my own and that gives me another perspective on how different each horse really is! In addition, attending Equine Affaire every year in Springfield, MA is a wealth of information on everything from training to feeding and everything in between!

    41. I try and learn as much as I possibly can. I ride many different types of horses and work with trainers of different disciplines. It’s easy to learn a lot by simply spending one whole day at a barn around horses. They are amazing animals and there is so much to learn.

    42. My horse and I were recently involved in the Western States Horse Expo. Bella was a demo horse for John Lyons and it was an experience of a life time! We both learned so much that has helped and will continue to help both of us in our futures. I plan to use the knowledge that I have gained to add to what I know about horses and how to train them. For now I want to continue Bella’s training as a trail and pleasure horse, and to my horsemanship and horse riding skills.

    43. I take lessons on my horse from my trainer. Sometimes he lets me ride some of the horses that he has in training to help me fix any bad habits. I also try to ask lots of questions in order to learn as much as I possibly can in my particular discipline.

    44. I take lessons on my own horse as well as others so that I get more experience. I love to watch other people get lessons. Its easier to observe and take in the info. I’m always reading or watching videos too.

    45. I take riding lessons, read as many books and articles as I can, on anything horse related, (grooming, health, showing, riding, training,) I am always reading online articles. I also watch videos people put up, of big Hunter/eq/jumper shows, to watch the riders and horses, and the judging.
      I also have my rides filmed often, so I can watch myself, and critique myself. I always read George Morris’ critiques on Jumping, I also Have a journal to show my horse and I’s progress. I also like to put up videos on a forum, and get critiques, just for a fresh eye, and I have taken lessons with a different coach for the same reason.
      Theres so much more too!

    46. I take riding lessons, and frequently attend clinics because I feel like I can learn a lot, even if I’m only watching. I also read as many books and magazine’s as I can and I hope to attend an equestrian collage. In the horse world, I feel like you’re never done learning and even olympic riders have to take lessons. Plus, if you ever get bored with one discipline, there are many more out there.

    47. The majority of my horse knowledge has either come from books, my new barn, or the horses themselves. Before I started riding about 2 or 3 years ago, I knew basic horse knowledge and some stuff about breeds. When I started to ride, I learned to ride and about grooming and tacking up. But the learning there was mostly from the horses. My mom didn’t like the people at that barn, and I didn’t like how the horses were treated, so I unfortunatly had to take a very long break. This past February, I began riding again, and I was very rusty…let me say that again…VERY rusty. And somewhere in that break, I not only lost some skills and muscles…but also confidence. Now I am still rebuilding myself, yet learning twice as fast as I did in my old barn with the help of some very friendly staff and some great horses too.

    48. I took riding lessons for 2 years and I’ll never forget what my teacher taught me. Every time I ‘slip’ I correct myself before I have to punish my horse for my mistake.

    49. I have learned mostly from my own horse. We were both inexperienced when I got her, but now we are doing things I used to only Dream of doing. I also take riding lessens every other week and enjoy figuring out new horses. I am also on Pony Club, which has taught me alot. Another great thing is volenteering at the stable’s beginner summer camps, I am able to help and learn at the same time!

    50. I take riding lessons, watch tv programs about various horse sports, and read online and magazine articles tp further my education.

    51. I have my mom video tape me and other riders in the show ring. That way I can critique my own riding as well as see what the consistently-placing riders are doing right.

    52. I read Horse Illustrated every month and clip out any articles that I think may be useful to me in the future. I save all these in a binder. I also watch youtube videos when I have a specific question, and I get occasional riding lessons just to brush up on my equitation. I also read every horse book I can get my hands on.

    53. When im not riding horses, I’m thinking about them, painting them and studing and studing and studing them, by watching youtube vids., reading, i have books bookmarked websites, a binder jammed with articals, take riding lessons 2 days per week and muck one, i record clinton andersen and parreli shows, then try to apply those ideas to the horses i live by.

    54. I have a 6 year old Quarter horse named Spunk. Almost everyday, I work and play with him to build our relationship, so that we can further our bond together. To me, once you have formed that relationship,you and your horse can do anything. Now I am showing my horse at the 4-H State show. He has come such a long way, and I am very proud of him!

    55. To keep myself up-to-date I take lessons once a week where not only do I improve my riding, but I learn about horse care and stabling thanks to my wonderful instructor! I also make sure I subscribe to great magazines like Young Rider and Horse Illustrated!

    56. When Im not riding I volunteer at a barn that lets disabled kids ride. So I’m still learning about how to work with horses even though Im not riding! And I go to my cousins stable and help wih the horses there, and of course when I cant get out to one of the barns I read magazines and watch videos of me riding to figure out what I can improve on!

    57. When I’m not with my horses or at work,I am a avid reader of horse related books and magazines.I also like to watch training videos.I also have a friend who trains pleasure horses,so I talk with her about any issues I am incountering.

    58. If i’m in bed and don’t know what to do I just pull out a good horse or breed book and read what it all has to say. Somtimes i watch a training video on ground work or nice riding skills to try. When my friend is showing her horse I may watch to spot anything new to learn.

    59. I take riding lessons every week and at these lessons, I rotate the horses that I ride so that I can learn how to handle the personalities of different horses. When I’m not riding, I’m always trying to get my hands on horse-related books. Reading these books along with magazines like Horse Illustrated and taking riding lessons has helped me improve my horse knowledge and riding skills.

    60. I take riding lessons,attend horse grooming/health college,I have a big box of horse magazines and I read every horse book I can find. I write my own horse magazines called THE COLORFUL PONY and ON THE BIT.I even teach my sister horse school! I have a lot to learn about and i inttend to! but yeah! im only 13 I have plenty of time to become an expert!

    61. I take two lessons every week and over the summer I’m at the barn all day working for my instructor and helping with the horses.

    62. To keep my riding up i read magazines (including Horse Illustrated), books, ride my horses a lot, and take lessons a couple times a week. i also ride my friends horses so that i dont slack too much on my correction skills

    63. I read about horses and riding all the time, I ride my families horses when I can and I talk about riding with my friends who ride with me. But reading, talking about riding and especially riding the same horses over and over again doesn’t make you a better rider. Knowing about things and actually doing them are totally different. Watch other people ride, watch how your friends sit, hold their hands and handle the common problems that their horses present and learn from them. Now that, is a way to make a better rider and a great chance to grow as a rider too.

    64. I lease a horse in the fall, winter, and spring so I am always at the barn. I ride 4 times a week and help out during the lessons for the little kids on saturdays. I recieve 3 or 4 different magazines in the mail about horses that I always read cover to cover! I hope to go to an equestrian school and major in equine or equestrian studies! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!

    65. I learn a lot through reading and watching videos and watching other riders. What really hits home with me is hands on learning. So i talk with many of my friends and they help me out with questions i have or come out and show me.

    66. A real horseman is learning and teaching everytime they are around or near horses. Plus they are reading and watching to alway learn more

    67. Well, for starters, I have TONs of horse books! (I also subscribe to Horse Illustrated which is my favorite magazine ever!)I take lessons and I watch lessons. Watching lessons help me because if the trainer says something like, “Good job keeping your body in this position!” then I know that I should keep my body in that position. I also watch the horses in their pastures. That helps me because if, for example, my horse keeps getting picked on by a horse, I know they probably shouldn’t be in the same pen together. It also helps me to understand horse better in many ways.

    68. I still qualify for 4H, and the 4H program offers hippology and horse judging, which is awesome for gaining knowledge. We do annual contests, sometimes going to Nationals. I quiz members of my barn to prepare, and sometimes I know more than most of them. 4H is a great resource.

    69. I do horse bowl,hippology and horse judging through my county 4-H.I have TONS of horse books that I read.I also have LOTS of horse magazines that I read cover to cover(Horse Illustrated is my favorite out of all the horse magazines I have).I also take riding lessons so I learn alot from that.I have the internet and lots of horse people that I can learn from.I do horse grooming/health college.I want to be a equine vet so every chance I get I’m learning about horses.

    70. I live, breath, and absolutely NEVER eat horses! Being a bookworm can help in some instances of the horse industry, and you can learn a lot from books, but we all know that nothing can substitute for experience in the equestrian world. So, I taught myself to ride all the family horses, started riding bareback, then in a couple years we rescued some horses and I started training them. All of a sudden everyone just assumed I was a horse whisperer and started wanting me to train their horse. I kept on training, then I started giving a couple lessons and all of a sudden I find myself hosting horse camps! What? Well, I have found out that keeping up with the latest training techniques either by book, internet, tv, or clinics, you can keep from falling into a ‘riding rut’ and continue to improve. But if you want to improve greatly as a rider, you’ve really gotta WANT it. You have got to emerge yourself in all things horse and focus. It’s a lot more complicated than people might think. Also it helps to keep from getting stagnant by riding about every day and training a lot. Works for me anyways. Loving this horsey life!

    71. I go to horse shows, I volunteer at a theraputic riding facility, go to different horse barns, read horse books/magazines, and watch plenty of horse-related shows and movies

    72. I decided to lease a horse for the summer, so I am learning more by riding and caring for the horse almost every day!

    73. I am going away to college next year. I intend on getting a degree in Equine Science. That will further my education…literally!

    74. I am constantly making new friends when we go camping with the horses, or attend charity rides, or organized rides. With a network of friends, we are always asking opinions about various things, or checking out each others trailers, tack, equipment or ideas from training tools, clinic information, medicines, etc. A great source of “what works and what doesn’t work” wisdom. I have and continue to learn from a great group of Friends!

    75. I plan to live like a lady that boards at the same barn as me. She’s in her 70’s and has been riding all her life but she never stops trying new things. Her mind stays open to what people have to say and is always grateful for critique. She’s so inspiring!

    76. I finally got my dream to come true at age 50 I got my first horse, I don’t know if I really could come up with the right words in what it has meant to me, now I have two horses and have them at home with me now, I am learning daily about JUST everything not wasting any time as I have had them for eight years and I am not getting any younger although they make me feel as if I am. Being with them and loving them. I think if folks had more time to just sit down at their barn watch their horses you can learn so so much !! They are my pride and joy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    77. I’ve never been fortunete enough to purchase my own horse to experience with, but I have taken stride in learning how to be a handicaped-rider trainer, as well as prep horses for their new duties as a friend for these special people. It’s a gift few ever consider to be real.

    78. i always at each time i see my horse; i learn more and more ideas and methods to help my horse. i love this learning experience and it helps my day go better also.

    79. I always try to give myself a challenge. Wheather it’s raising the jump, or choosing a more difficult route of the trail, I try to do my best and NEVER give up. Also, it really helps to *think like a horse*
      A fan of HC and HI

    80. Every day I seek out new articles,information,opinions,how to’s, etc thru people I know and web-sites.My first stop is of course a no brainer, Horse Channel.com. I continue to educate myself when,where and how I can.Then I can feel I’m doing my part to be a responsible horse owner.Knowing and doing the right thing in every aspect of my horses;health,training and day to day care is so important me because she needs me to be knowlegable.She trusts and depends on me to make the right decisions that affect her life everyday.So when in doubt I ask,read,look and LISTEN. After all she’s my Best friend forever and I want her to out live me a happy and healthy horse. Oh,she’ll be 5 this spring I’m closer to 60 than 55. With a little luck thrown in maybe we’ll grow old together with the wind between our ears.Thanx,Horse Channel you offer it all to us wanna-bes and dreamers.

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