My trainer gave my working first level horse a schooling ride last week. She did lots of bending, counter canter, half passes at trot and canter in a very demanding way. She also worked a couple of changes which involved some rough handling. I rode him yesterday and he seemed very edgy.
My question: How do you know when your trainer has mentally over faced your horse? What signs will he show?
BILL– The short answers are side effects, recovery time, and unwanted changes to his countenance. Yes, it is possible for a trainer to overstep the boundaries and school so invasively that she leaves mental or physical scars. That is very rare. If it is the case, it may be time for another trainer. That said, horses are remarkably resilient and forgiving. Most undesirable reactions, unless they’re drilled in repetitively, can be extinguished fairly easily.
Your trainer obviously feels your horse can be challenged beyond what you’re asking. “Expanding the envelope” can raise his expectations across the board– not only introducing new things but deepening his understanding of basic principles.
If the work makes him fearful or surly, that’s not good. On the other hand, “edgy” may be your interpretation of what your trainer might define as “less complacent.” Pushing past both your horse’s and your own comfort zones can be a good thing if it’s done right. You might want to get used to it.
Bottom line – If you can ride him through his top line, if in five or 10 minutes he will stretch and is also willing to make a relaxed free walk, it probably did more good than harm.