Whenever I start a young horse, I have a very clear picture of what I want the horse to be able to do. And I work towards this, focusing on what they don't know that is prohibiting them from moving to the next step.
But if you don't have that clear mental picture of what you want from them, you can't work towards it.
Let's take a look at what my goal is when training a horse.
The Goal of Horse Training
Whenever I start a young horse, I have a very clear picture of what I want the horse to be able to do. And I work towards this, trying to identify what they don't know that stops him learning the next step in the process, and correcting each inhibiting factor before moving on to that next step.
The horse needs to respond to a light touch of the reins and legs when it is checked, with its hind quarters underneath it, and without shaking the head or fussing with the mouth and grabbing the bit. It also needs to be able to back up straight, and only as much as it's asked to without rushing backwards. And again with are shaking his head or fussing with its mouth.
Take a look at normal speed. The horse needs to be able to turn off the riders outside leg to a light touch of the neck rein without either throwing its head into the turn or leaving it behind.
And it needs to be taught how to organize both the front and hind feet so that it can turn with our treading on itself and that it can pirouette around its back legs, using the outside back leg to propel itself, and the inside back leg to balance it.
Take a look at that turn at normal speed. You will find that once you have taught these lessons, you then have horses that are able to trot or canter with a nice loose rein. That are able to turn to the outside leg to a light pressure of the rein, to roll back correctly and lead out on the correct leg.
There you can see it's really nicely off the bridle. The stops are good. It's able to pirouette and lead off on the correct leg, pushing on the outside back leg, balancing on the inside back leg. There's another nice pirouette doing the same thing.
And always at the end of every lesson, I always just stop and make sure that after cantering, these horses are still light and really sensitive to my legs, to the touch of the bit, not throwing the head on the inside and turning off that outside rein.
If one doesn't teach this and one uses the direct pull of the inside rein to turn the horse, instead of teaching the horse to step away from the pressure of the riders outside leg aid and the touch of the neck rein, then the horse is going to bend its head to the inside of the turn.
As you can see happening here, and this will inhibit the movement of the inside shoulder and the horse will not be able to step laterally with the inside front leg, because of the inhibited shoulder.
Worse still the horse then never learns to pirouette on its hind legs, and will take a big step with the outside back leg to the side, as you can see happening here also. This then teaches the horse to throw its hind quarters round its front legs and is thus never in a stable body position to be able to propel itself with its outside hind leg and balance itself on the inside hind leg.
Here you can see the horse always starting the turn by throwing the head to the inside and not moving his body away from the pressure of the outside leg. You can see the fussiness as it's responding only to rein here.