Here’s an Example of a Successful Horse Training Plan
You can ride horses for a lifetime and never actually start a horse. Certainly you train a horse whenever you do anything with the horse, but in this article I’m thinking of “training a horse” as “starting a horse”. Recently I had a chance to talk with horse trainer Jodi Brassard about the effort and the planning that goes into making a horse training plan successful. Besides training horses, Jodi owns Brassard Equine Accupressure in the Austin, Texas, area.
Jodi is one of the dedicated horse trainers who volunteers for the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in Texas. She was also one of the featured trainers in a video about the adoptable horses available from Bluebonnet. In 2017 Jodi also donated her time for four months to train a horse for the Bluebonnet Training Challenge, and this video records a portion of her performance with her horse Creek at the Training Challenge.
What’s the Time Commitment for a Successful Training Plan?
Paul Sherland — I remember you talking about the time commitment you made for training your horse for the 2017 event. I didn’t see your performance, but I saw a photo of your horse walking behind a moving truck with front feet on a platform towed by the truck and you holding a Texas flag. I was wondering on average how much time per week you spent working with your horse to prepare for the Challenge and how many months you did that?
Jodi Brassard — I had Creek about 4 months before the show. He was 3 years old at the time and had not been started under saddle yet – we call it a “blank slate”. I would guess on average I worked him 1-2 hours a day over that time. That spread over a week might look like 3 days of 1 hour sessions, one day of trailering out for a trail ride or to work cattle, and one day of 2 hours groundwork/manners/standing tied, and two days off.
Training for a competition like that is a lot of fun, but also stressful and you definitely need your friends for support. Hilary LoBue was a great support to me, we both had horses competing last year. Just a little text or the plan of a trail ride after it was all said and done was really nice to have. I think it would be good for your Seniors because they will have each other to lean on.
Did You Have a Plan to Train for the Challenge?
Paul Sherland — Did you have a four month plan for training to your demonstration? Or did you build a foundation of good handling and riding and decide on the tricks later in the training period?
Jodi Brassard — To answer your question on Creek’s training…Yes, I absolutely had a plan in my mind for what I wanted to bring to the show. I’d had that in my mind before I even had Creek. However, horses are always good at changing your plan. Before I started on our routine or tricks I had to get the basics down, and also the relationship. A LOT of training is the maneuvers and desensitizing that comes with training anyway, so adding it to a show should be pretty seamless.
The sled was special because I knew that would take a lot of work. My first handful of rides on Creek were in the round pen, but then in the arena, the ONLY place I let him rest was on the sled. It wasn’t attached to a truck yet, it was just a platform. But he had to work in the arena unless he was standing on it from the beginning. And in the beginning if he had one or four feet on it that was acceptable. The sled became his place of rest and his refuge from work.
So Jodi worked with Creek for a least one or two hours a day, five days a week, for four months to prepare her horse for the Training Challenge. I suspect that her commitment is the rule rather than the exception for other successful competitors.
What’s My Training Plan for Success?
For many years I’ve been unfocused and lacking goals in working with my horses — and it hasn’t worked very well. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been riding less and doing less when I ride. Jodi’s successful training plan is a blueprint for my success, and perhaps it is for you too. I intend to spend more of my time working with my horses, I’ll document specific and measurable goals for my horses and I’ll document what I’ve done and plan to do to achieve those goals.
Do you have a training plan for your horses? How do you track your progress? What kind of time commitment to you make toward achieving your goals? Please share what you’ve been doing in the comments.