Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blog Hop: Time Quality and Quantity

I have long wanted to ask these questions about the time we work our horses. As people we have expectations for the amount of time we commit to work. For me I am expected to work 40 hours a week. A normal day is 8 hours. Whether I am sitting by a door greeting people (very rare) or busting butt completing an audit, I get the same pay.
Time is a factor with riding, but the quality and quantity can be controlled by us. For some a quality ride could involve barrels and seconds of time and for others it could be a ride of endurance lasting days.

So here are the questions:
Work for my horse is defined as ______________

How many days does your horse work?

Do you feel you have to ride your horse a certain length of time to consider it work?

Do you feel you can still get quality work in a small quantity of time?

For my horses, work is defined as anytime I ask them a question and require an answer. It could be mental, clicker training or desensitization or physical, ridden, driven or in hand. That definition really came about with our purchase of Winston. We could not ride him, so defining work as being ridden was tossed out. Two years of ground work and desensitization has made all the difference. The broad definition of work was reinforced with Roscoe's birth. He has worked since day one. When I asked him to pick up his foot for me, that was work for a foal. So when you see one of my horses' names on our calendar getting credit for working, that could be as simple as a giving the kids a pony ride to as difficult as a jumping exercise or intense dressage session.

In a perfect world, I would love my horses to work at least 3 times a week. Well, reality is more like once a week. With 6 workable horses, it is tough. The squeaky wheel, ie trouble makers, tend to get the focus. I wish I had someone to ride with, so the horses could get more work time. I am lucky to have horses that retain knowledge, but also have older horses who do not retain muscle that well.

Growing up, I thought I had to ride at least 30 minutes for my horse to have worked. That was the length of time for a private lesson. As my riding progressed, my instructor knew that if she felt Barry and I had achieved the lesson, she could end the lesson before our allotted time. That extra time would be added to another lesson. Being flexible with the quantity of time worked has been the best tool I have dealing with the different personalities. Some horses do better with a couple short sessions versus one long session. My early years with Comrade showed a gradual increase in work time as his enjoyment in working developed. The best part is that the times we have asked the horses to work much longer periods,like hunter paces, they have been able to handle it.

I definitely think quality work can be achieved in a small quantity of time. Just think about a horse show. Our horses give us, hopefully, their best in sometimes just minutes. Schooling and learning do need more time, but depending on the horse a concept learned should not be worked too much at first. My instructor always said to end on a positive note, so if my horse did the movement correctly, don't push it too much more. Some horses will question whether they are right or not and may change their answer if constantly asked to do the same movement. The Cobs are funny because they may not get a concept the first ride, but will think about it and come back better the next ride.


  1. What a great, thought-provoking post! I typically see work for my horse as a riding exercise, although we also do the (very occasional) groundwork/lunging session as well. I guess I don’t have a firm definition, but believe along the same lines as you do. Depending on the weather, Miles usually works 4-5 days per week, but sometimes less.
    Like you, I’m not a stickler for time, but am usually a stickler for quality. I don’t believe in endless repetition if my horse is doing it correctly. Sometimes I ride for 20 minutes and feel like it was a really good session; other times I ride for 45 minutes. Just depends!

    1. I love my horses, but I do miss the focus one horse allows sometimes. I don't think your alone in the way you see work. I had the same early on.

  2. oooh great post and great questions! (also i love that pic of the baby following you around in the arena). i'll have to chew it over a little bit before posting my own thoughts :)

    1. Thanks Emma! That baby is Roscoe at two weeks old :) I think by that time he was working as my saddle holder when I got Rosemary ready.