Tag Archives: April Reeves

The Value of Consistency in Horse Training

Why your horse isn’t learning as fast as they should

By April Reeves

I have a herd of 10 horses. No matter how long I leave them, I can go out into the 80 acres, catch any one of them (most will come without a halter) and start off exactly where I left their training, regardless of how long that was. How does that happen?

This is the value of consistency. Not the type where you take a lesson then ride the way you always do the next day. No. This is the type where you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to ask at least one new thing and apply it every time I need to in a consistent manner until my horse understands the question.”

We don’t realize how damaging it is to the horse when we change the question. Example: you were taught how to back up your horse, but today, he does not want to back up and it’s been a few months since you asked for it. So you do what you know to get him to back up, but he hesitates and stalls out, so you try another method, same zero results, then you try something else while you get more aggressive and by this time, your horse is hyper anxious and tense and the entire lesson is lost.

You have just asked him more than one question and there is no way you will get any result you will like.  Let’s use the backup as an example.

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Exercising Versus Training

“If we are to call ourselves trainers then we carry the responsibility to move everyone to a higher status in the industry. That is how every industry on this planet survives. You take others up with you.”

Most of the barns I travel to breed horses, and keep a trainer and several exercise riders. I am always struck by the concept of riding just for riding sake: to keep a horse in shape and not deteriorate from 23 hours in a stall and paddock.

Most exercise riders move in a constant state of riding the rail around and around. In my world we call this the loser’s loop, where riders have no goals or desire to achieve anything but exercise. Sometimes, if there are jumps or obstacles in the arena, they will move around them, but otherwise, there is not a shred of training in any of this.

My question is, what is the point? And it is the very reason every horse on my farm has a field to run freely and self-exercise as he needs to.

And every ride has a purpose.

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The German Martingale Part 1

My Horse Slams Me Against The Wall When I Ride, And Won’t Do Circles Properly.

Question: In the indoor arena where I ride, my mare keeps slamming me up against the wall. I try to use my outside leg to push her off, but my teacher doesn’t like me coming off the wall.

My mare also doesn’t do circles very well. What can I do?

Answer from April Reeves: Get off the walls! We call it the “loser’s loop”, when people ride up against a wall or fence with no real clue as to why they are doing so. Ride at a minimum of 5 feet (10 if you have room) from any wall. One of my students rides in an indoor arena of 60 feet by 100 feet, and rarely uses the wall (on a continual basis. You do need to get close once in a while when doing certain exercises).

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My horse jumps into the trot: How can I prevent this?

Question: I have a horse that jumps forward into the trot when asked to move from a walk to a trot. Any suggestions on how to make the transition smooth? Thanks

April Reeves:  Hi Kristi! First off, the response from your horse to be “quick” into the up transition is actually a response I ask for, at the beginning. You do want a horse that responds to your cues immediately. I consider that obedience, and once that’s established, you can move on to refine the process.

Next step is to soften how you ask for the up transition. All your methods have to become lighter and softer if you expect the same from the horse, from the use of hands, legs, voice and seat. Get very familiar with what that feels like, because this is how you bring a horse into refinement and a finished bridle horse.

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What Does “Winning” Mean To You?

April and 'Rainy Buck Paige', 1975

Answer from April Reeves: I have always viewed “winning” as a competitive attachment. I realized, after years of showing horses, that winning was a crap shoot that depended on judge’s opinions and politics. I now walk into “competition” as a way to simply see how my horse and I can handle stress. I have found that stress only exists as a function of fear, and so now, showing and winning and competition no longer is a necessity for me, but a chance to go out and have a different kind of “fun” with the horses. What I have found is a whole new world where life is lighter, the word “win” doesn’t need to exist, and the end result is that, oddly enough, my blue ribbon count has soared….
My true “wins” are inside of me, not external of me.

Changes to April Reeves and Horseman’s U.com

Heads up everyone! Horseman’s U.com is coming down for around 3-4 months to be completely rebuilt! New video sections and articles are being developed over the winter, including:

  • Marketing Your Stable and Equine Business
  • Equine locomotion
  • Video and instruction on developing and building an equestrian center: how Horseman’s U, the facility, will be created.

Plus, April Reeves is moving to a new farm: details to come early next year on the location. The property will boast Eventing/cross country courses, including water obstacles, banks, ditches and permanent/non-permanent fences, permanent agility course, 2 roundpens (for ponies and warmbloods), jumping arena (so you don’t have to put the jumps away all the time), large all purpose sand arena (reining/sliding), pathway around perimeter of property, other open sand/grass/mixed rings and practice areas, and the ability to ride all around the entire property in the day! We’ll host week/days/day long intensive workshops and clinics for Western and English/Jumping riders, events, free riding days for trailer-ins,  and much more!

This site will remain the same, as it serves as a valuable resource for those seeking answers. Please continue to send in your questions and April will try to answer them.

If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see/read/watch on Horseman’s U.com please let us know! Hope to see some of you at the new facility next year!

We’re keeping the location a secret for now (simply because we haven’t quite bought it yet), but once we’re in, we’ll have a contest for the ones that can guess the location. Stay tuned for details!