It's easy to lose track of things while you're riding. It's easy to focus on problems, or cultivate new skills. And yet, horse learn through repetition, so the only way to ensure they learn something and remember it is to practice it all the time.
Here's a short list of often overlooked skills many horses lack because they are not asked to practice consistently. These things are important enough, we work on them every ride:
- stand still – quietly and willingly, whether mounted or tied, for as long as necessary
- walk – briskly and with rhythm, without charging ahead or dogging along
- bend – being able to execute an even, consistent circle in both directions
- softness – a horse bracing against the bit is unbalanced and unhappy
Of course, there are many things you want a horse to know how to do, and a horse's mindset or struggles may dictate the bulk of what you work on any given day, but remember that if it's something you want your horse to know how to do when you ask, you need to practice.
And if it's important enough, you should practice every single ride.