Is riding horse one of your hobbies? However have you got the relationship with your horse that "you'd dreamed of since a little girl"? Learning to ride horseback isn't all that difficult - but it can present us with a rather insurmountable learning curve if we try to figure things out for ourselves. That steep learning curve can be overcome rather easily with a little input from a professional. Why beat your head against a wall when a few quick fixes and tips from a pro can wow your barn friends on your next trail ride?
To that end, there are a few things I make sure to cover in each and every clinic I teach. This is the material I hit the hardest, the concepts I believe to be the most important, the undercurrent running throughout the rest of our training because both collectively and individually the lessons have a huge impact on our overall success as trainers. I've learned through my students that you'll improve much faster if you first understand the "why" behind the "what, when and how." It's easy stuff and to prove it, here's an example, a concept that'll virtually guarantee big results - and you'll see those results faster than it took me to write the final two paragraphs:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde should play a very active role in our training: As every horse has two distinct personalities, so should you. Have you ever noticed how sometimes your horse tries and sometimes he doesn't? The green horse you see spinning around the round pen looking out over the rail, is decidedly NOT working with the trainer.
The horse who runs home (after walking begrudgingly out to the trail) is NOT working with his rider. The horse who takes a look at you and your halter and turns tail is NOT working with you. Your horse's attitude is something you should be constantly gauging throughout each training session because that attitude tells you what yours should be. It determines how long you hold your reins, how much pressure, how often you make a request, how specific you'll be. Simply put, if your horse is giving you the bird, introduce him to Mr. Hyde. Use more pressure on your reins, expect things to happen now rather than later, kick harder; be more exacting. Be a drill sergeant.
By contrast, when the green horse starts keeping his two eyes on you in the round pen, when the experienced horse softens his neck for a moment longer than you've asked as if to say "What's next?," when any horse at any time simply becomes more focused on you, then we've got a horse that merits much more patience on your part. Channel Mr. Hyde. (He was the nice one.) Give them more time to get something right, use less rein pressure, kick more sparingly, be quicker to offer a "benefit of the doubt." In short, turn into your grandmother. Should your horse's attitude drift back to the dark side, simply react in kind. Being aware and adapting to these two distinct personalities in your horse by rolling out your own good cop and bad cop will help you maintain a sound relationship with your horse while maintaining his respect.