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Foundation Training

FOUNDATION TRAINING

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One of the most rewarding ways to experience riding is to feel you “belong” on your horse in the great outdoors;

Exploring the countryside is the ultimate stress buster with the wind in your face or the sun on your back. We live this dream every day working through our unique Foundation Training System with the horses in our care.

Correct preparation and education is the key to safe hacking, and our NH based training helps horses cope with all the outside world throws at them - flags, flapping plastic, umbrellas, wheelie bins, or sudden explosions. Being comfortable to walk calmly in open spaces among a field of sheep is a priceless gift for the leisure rider.

The perfect all-rounder needs a widening education to deal safely with sudden
and unexpected situations they are never exposed to inside a manege. We have taught these skills to hundreds of horses for more than thirty years, and once they graduate, they are as versatile as you ask - Le Trec, Sponsored Rides, local shows and more.

Interest in what we do is growing, and increasingly we are asked how we do it. Buying a horse isn’t only a financial investment, it’s an emotional one, and discovering your horse has gaps in his ability to manage hacking alone, separation anxiety, or fear of open spaces is deeply upsetting; we receive numerous requests to retrain these horses for their owners.

For help with your relationship, or a search for that special friend, please contact us for advice and support.

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We've included the most frequently asked questions on our Foundation Training. We hope you find it helpful

How long is the training?

It is almost impossible to quanitfy the time it takes because each horse has different needs and absorbs the training at different rates. The average is three months but is often longer.

Why does it take months, isn't a couple of weeks long enough?

A couple of weeks is not long enough to truly get to know a horse on all levels. Neither is it long enough to make lasting changes to a horse’s behaviour. We know there are no short cuts to true education, and to gloss over imperfections is never beneficial for the horse's future or a horse and rider partnership.

How do you traffic train your horses?

Although it’s possible to retrain a badly traffic-averse horse, we don’t believe such horses can ever be entirely reliable for the average rider. For road work, we focus on introducing them to different types of vehicle and mechanical rattles step by step until they are confident with whatever they meet approaching them or passing them, both alone and in company.

I don't know how to ride the Natural Horsemanship way, won't that confuse my horse?

Not at all, our horses are very familiar with conventional aids which are entirely natural, and have been used for over two thousand years since being introduced by the great riding master, Xenophon.

What is different about Natural Horsemanship Training?

Natural Horsemanship seeks to work with horses by building trust and co-operation, leading them to a greater feeling of security and understanding of what is required, which in turn makes for a safer and more predictable ride. Isn’t that the kind of horse you would like to own? The benefits go beyond even this; horses who stay mentally and physically relaxed away from the confines of a school help give the rider a feeling of confidence. What can be more natural than exploring the countryside from the back of a horse?

Do you ever train in the school?

Yes, but not often as we can do so much more outside the confines of a school.
Such a limiting environment contributes little to a horse’s all round education or true balance over different terrain. Horses learn lateral movements and accurate transitions with greater enthusiasm and less worry when it’s packaged as part of a hack.

How important is it to achieve equal balance on either rein out hacking?

We feel it's important for the horse's correct muscular development to feel equally comfortable on both reins and diagonals. We spend time making sure they take different canter leads from a straight line. When they are able to use themselves correctly their overall suppleness increases which is beneficial for long term soundness.

I may want to go to a show, is jumping part of their training?

All horses can jump, just like they can swim without being taught to do so. We find most cobs and cob type horses enjoy jumping natural obstacles, which is a good introduction for them. We pop over logs, ditches, or whatever we come across while out and about. When the horse is confident to do this, he is ready for further schooling through grids and little combinations etc. which your Instructor can help you with once you get to know your horse.

How long do you ride the horses for each day?

Normally we ride for an hour or an hour and a half five days a week. Sometimes this is longer if we need to visit a particular location for instance. We also spend time on the ground to cover essentials such as manners, and working with different equipment, etc.

How well schooled are your horses since they spend most of their time hacking?

Riders are often surprised to discover just how educated our horses are. We can achieve so much more in terms of balance, attention, responsiveness, and co-operation by schooling in a natural environment.

Can you successfully train any horse?

We believe behavioural difficulties are nearly always man-made. Finding the key to remove the blocks which are preventing an acceptable performance is part of the retraining process which involves carving a new path of neural memory and in that sense any horse can be successfully trained once pain or physical disability are treated.

We like to help people understand where these behaviours originate and how to prevent them reoccurring or ensure they never happen in the first place. This is an important part of our message which we broadcast by running courses, creating videos, personal coaching and training diaries etc.

How do you go about matching the right horse to the rider?

The most effective way to do this is to truly know our horses, and coming from instructing backgrounds, is a great help in assessing suitability. Combining these two elements allows us to accurately evaluate whether a potential owner is best suited to a particular horse.

How do you go about selecting suitable horses?

This is more difficult to answer because we don’t have preference for colour, gender, height or breeding as such. Correct temperament and soundness are a priority, since very little can be achieved without these.

Having the ability to see beyond a tangled mane, overgrown feet, or green behaviour is important.We are fortunate to be able to tune in on a deeper level where they supply us with hidden information about what lies underneath so to speak.

Do you put forward horses who haven't received this training?

Our experience shows that it's very rare to find a horse whose education is up to date in all the important areas. Whether we are working with current owners’ horses or our own, we will always be committed to completing the Foundation Training programme.

Is a horse ever too old to be trained?

Our knowledge of working with older horses suggests that it's never too late to reintroduce horses to a better way of going, and improve or remove bad habits.

We used to believe in an unofficial cut-off point in terms of age, beyond which a horse was set in his ways, and not open to change.

Having worked with dozens of older horses, and even the aged, we know that this simply isn't true. Some of our most remarkable and satisfying achievements have been with the older horse. It's as if they've been waiting for the opportunity to help release them from years of undisciplined riding, and are often active seekers for a better way of going. Such horses have so much to give the more nervous or inexperienced rider, and we have much to learn from them as well.

What happens after the Foundation Training is completed?

From our perspective, we feel the horse is now ready mentally and physically to move foward to their new home. Of course all training is ongoing, and in a sense is never finished, even if it's only reinforcing what has been accomplished so the horse's performance doesn't slip.

Horses are sentient beings, and react favourably or otherwise to their environment, handling, and riding. Horse owners have a responsibility for ensuring future riding and management supports the horse in an appropriate way, all of which we cover in depth as part of our support procedure.

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