Wet saddle blankets! That’s the one secret that most people never learn when dealing with horses. You have to ride them, and you have to ride them a lot. There is no substitute. A horse learns in only one manner. The horse learns through constant and consistent repetition. The rider must ask the horse for a certain skill. The horse won’t have any idea what is being asked of him. This is where patience is learned. The rider has to wait for the horse to make even a very small attempt at the correct response. When the horse gives this attempt, all pressure must be released immediately. Give the horse a few minutes to relax and then pet him a little. Then ask him again for the response. It takes hours, days and weeks of this, just to teach a horse to do the simplest skill correctly and consistently. Even then, the skill will need to be reinforced and practiced regularly. With literally thousands of things that a horse can learn, how can there be any excuse not to ride.
The first thing most people want to do with their new horse is usually trail riding. The image of sauntering down the trail on a horse is almost irresistible. The horse is strolling along and the scenery is beautiful. The weather is warm and sunny. What could go wrong? The answer is not what most people want to here. A good trail ride horse is created through months and years of riding and building trust. Safe trail riding is an advanced skill for a horse. And yet people, time and again, will buy a horse only to show up at the barn once a month to ride. They saddle their horse and out to the trails they go. The horse generally comes back first, without the rider. These people are constantly in search of a better horse. The typical response is “I just can’t trust this horse. I don’t know what is wrong with him.” The problem is not that they can’t trust their horse. The problem is the horse doesn’t trust them. The first thing these people need to realize is that a horse must be ridden every day, not once a month. The horse must also know certain skills before it ever goes out on the trail. A good amount of desensitization is also a good idea. If a person cannot invest the time that is needed to ride a horse and to learn the skills necessary to teach the horse, they should not venture to own one.
So if the idea is to join the world of horse owners, plan to give the horse the amount of time that is required for him to be successful. Ask questions of everyone you meet in the horse community. They will be more than willing to help you learn. Read all the books and articles on horses and training that you can find. Count on riding that horse regularly, until the saddle blanket is wet, and you will likely wind up with the best horse in the barn.