Changing Things Up How To Keep Your Horse Interested In His Work
I would not argue with anyone who said that horses are a creature of habit. They most certainly are. Their behavior and demeanor are better when they are in a set routine. They find comfort in knowing what is expected of them.
When training, a routine can be beneficial. Practice makes perfect, right?
While it's easy to focus on this mindset, it's important to remember that doing the same things over and over can be mundane for your horse. Even though you really want to master that lead change, or whatever it is that you are working at, don't forget about your horse's mental wellbeing.
That may sound crazy to some. No offense was taken if you think I'm nuts! But consider how bored your horse must get. Going around and around in circles gets old. Doing the same things every day isn't necessarily bad. That is the way to teach new skills. But in order for us to keep our horses as willing partners, they deserve a change every once in a while.
Once your horse understands what it is you are asking of it, you need to continue to practice those skills. And you should also continue practicing your earlier skills as to not lose ground with them.
But we don't want our horses to feel that our riding them is mind numbing. We want to have willing partners, right? In order to get willing partners, we have to give a little.
Give your horse a break from routine. Switch horses with your friend, ride bareback, go out on a trail ride, or teach your horse a trick on the ground. Just do something to switch things up. It could even be something as simple as just taking him out to a shady spot one day and hand grazing him for a while, just being with him without a ton of expectations.
You might be surprised how a little change like this can make it feel like you're getting on a whole different horse the next time you ride, a horse that is interested, not bored, and ready to work.
Try it! It can't hurt to try!