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Don Jessop

Patience comes from understanding just how long things actually take. If you've ever watched a professional colt starter get on a horse in twenty minutes you've been deceived about what kind of patience is truly required to get past the stage of performance tricks. I can get on an un-broke horse in twenty minutes too, but it proves nothing about the quality of connection and trust and understanding that a horse has with you. All it proves is you can make a horse freeze long enough to let you up there for a few minutes. True horseman know there is much, much more groundwork to be laid before that horse truly understands what's happening and genuinely trusts the whole experience. Horsemanship is not a race and I feel sad that speed related horse training competitions still exist today. A patient trainer gets better results every single time. Impatience leads to negative tension and negative tension is the enemy of understanding and trust.

Persistence comes from passion. If you want something bad enough you'll make sure you get it. I've been teaching for over two decades now and I still see people give up too early. Take catching your horse for instance. If your horse doesn't want to be caught, how long will you continue to try? Will you give up because it looks like it won't work? Did you know that passionate people don't give up even when it looks like it won't work? It's because passionate people are persistent and never give up. They know that even if they do it wrong, they will eventually figure out how to do it right. They just have to keep on trying. I didn't know all the techniques I know today when I started out. But guess how I learned them... by failing and never quitting. Each fail gave me new ideas. Each success gave me meaningful tools to help others. You can see the passion in me. Where is the passion in you? If you've lost your passion, give me a call and I'll help you find here.

I probably should have put position first on the list because position training is the most powerful aspect of mastery. Let me give you two examples.

If my horse won't stand at the mounting block... it's because he doesn't understand the value of NOT standing at the mounting block. In other words, he thinks any position but that position relative to the mounting block is okay. I have to show him it's not okay to not stand at the mounting block. Then I have to show him it's amazing, fantastic, and wonderful to do what I ask by rewarding him when he's getting it.

Position training means you predetermine where and at what speed you want your horse to be. Then you make all other positions less desirable.

Another example of this is cantering on the fence line of the arena. Let's say you pick up a canter and your horse leaves the fence line, cantering off to the middle of the arena. Do you make a correction? You should! Because if you don't you are basically telling your horse that moving at speed is more important than moving on track. Imagine if you were sitting next to me in the car and I made that same decision to go for speed instead of staying on the road. What kind of outcome would result in that kind of thinking?

The biggest reason mid-level students don't progress to advanced or elite levels of horsemanship is exactly this concept. They don't prioritize the position. Worse yet, they don't even pre-determine the position. They often just head out with no regard for where they're going. They travel through space and time like there's no value in precision. Don't be like that anymore if you're passionate about progress. Instead, be like my wife Rachel who spends each ride ensuring the horse stays balanced and calm and precise. During down time you'll see her let her horse graze or casually stroll around but not during training exercises because she knows the value of the position.

EVERYTHING is position related. Piaffe, passage, canter, flying lead changes, trot, walk, stop, backup straight, haunches in, half passes, spins, rollbacks, trailer loading, liberty stick to me, circle, sideways, two line driving, you name it...

The master trainers all focus on how to position the horse for the maneuver they want to train. If you truly begin to understand this concept, there is no limit to what you can achieve. If you can approach each position with a centered, natural approach you will never upset your horse too much. That means lots of rewards and clear focused actions. Ironically, horses love precision work if it's done with elegance. They become smarter, calmer, more balanced, more thoughtful, more patient. Some might even say happier because an unfocused horse is often an anxious horse.

Remember these three "p's." Let them be your guide to progress.

Patience, Persistence, and Position

All else is just a subcategory of progress. This is the main course.

If you want to dive into the subcategories then jump on board with us. Thanks Don

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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Don Jessop


Don opened up a community, full of people on the same journey you are!
To share LIVE Q&A's and help people and horses transform Confidence.

Don Jessop


Don shares his  passion for writing with his passion for helping horse owners see the horse and themselves for who they truly are.

Don Jessop


Don believes every horse owner should have access to the Principles of Horsemanship and he shares them freely here.

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