Remember that when you ask your pony to do something, it probably makes no sense to him. That’s why it’s super-important to give him time to work out what it is you want, and don’t get frustrated or annoyed if he doesn’t do it straight away. It’s down to you to be calm, understanding and kind in your training.
2. Good timing
To make sure your pony learns exactly which behaviour you expect from him, you need to have excellent timing to avoid confusion. For example, if your pony shows the behaviour you want and you give him a treat straight away, he can understand that the consequence of that behaviour is getting a treat. If your pony shows a behaviour you want and there’s a gap between it and you giving him a treat (maybe while you go to the feed room to find one), he won’t make the link between the behaviour he showed and getting a treat.
Good timing takes lots of practice to get right. If you’re unsure, contact a qualified behaviourist for some advice.
3. Flexible thinking
Lots of what you ask your pony to do is difficult for him to understand, so if he’s not learning something as well as you hoped, think about the ways you can change what you’re doing to help him understand it better. Changing your approach and training methods to suit your pony will make it easier for him to learn.
This is really important for your pony to understand exactly what you expect of him. If you keep changing your expectations when you ask for a certain behaviour, your pony won’t be able to make a link between his behaviour and your reaction, so he won’t be able to learn.
Being flexible in your training doesn’t mean being inconsistent. If your pony’s not understanding something, don’t change what you expect from him. Instead find a way to ask him so he understands.
5. Understand his needs
For your pony to be in a good frame of mind when you train him, either riding or handling, his needs must be met for the rest of the day (friends, forage and freedom!) and only train for short periods of time.
Remember, there are no quick fixes when it comes to behaviour problems, and there isn’t always a complete cure. When you teach your pony something, you try to change his emotions and behavioural patterns in a particular situation, which takes time to achieve. Also, it’s really important you make sure learning is a positive experience for your pony in order to get good results.