How do you know your horse is ready for a new challenge? Ask for it, and see what happens. Make sure your insecurities are not hindering your horse’s educational progress. Progress cannot be measured by always executing the past lessons. Add challenges to your routine that causes the horse to think. Horses become bored from monotonous routines.
What am I evaluating? This question seems to be common at my clinics. Evaluations should start from the ground for safety, especially with a horse you are not familiar with. Horses should lead, lunge, stop and back-up with calmness, confidence, obedience, and respect for the handler. You should be able to send a horse over obstacles from the ground as well. In the saddle a horse should walk, trot, and canter at controlled and comfortable speeds. Your horse should be soft to your hands, bending and giving laterally and vertically with ease at all three gates. Your horse should move their shoulders, hips, and full body off of leg pressure. Additionally your horse should stop and turn around collected and working off of their rear end with the minimal cues. Horses that pass these tests are on their way as a safe enjoyable mount. These horses are now ready for advanced training. These are also the horses that are ready for training in specific events. All of the attributes listed above are just as important with one event as it is for the another.