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Don Jessop

There are 6 steps to every good pre-ride test. Every pre-ride test should be designed to measure how well your horse responds to your suggestions while staying calm, to ensure that chances for a safe ride remain within your control.

The six steps you'll see listed below are not techniques, they are steps. All master horseman use these steps. ALL of them! They leave nothing out, but be clear they are steps, not techniques.

Not techniques, not tasks... but steps.

I say that because any technique or task can be substituted within each step. Many trainers will say there is only one way to do something. This is incorrect. There is always more than one way. I have my favorites, which I'll show you, but remember any technique can be substituted. It's reading the horse and using the steps to a safe ride that counts in horse mastery.

Here we go:

Pre-ride Step 1: Ensure the horse stands still for saddling. A horse that won't stand still for saddling is less safe to ride than one who will.

Step 2: Test for responsiveness - ask for a simple task to be completed (preferably motion-related tasks that open the door for reactivity). A horse that won't respond to suggestions on the ground won't respond well while riding. Testing on the ground will ensure a safer ride.

Step 3: Test for calmness after responsiveness - ask for relaxation and quiet, after he's completed the task (a horse that won't relax after responding isn't rideable). A horse that won't let go of energy and remains upset after moving around is not a safe horse to ride.

Step 4: Test for non-reactivity to stimulus.- ask for the horse to stand still and quiet while applying visual, tactile, or auditory stimulus). A horse that won't stay calm under pressure is not a safe horse to ride.

Step 5: Re-test - double check your work. Some horses pass once, but not twice or three times. A horse that can pass three times in a row is a pretty solid horse but in the end, you have to decide when it's safe for you to get on.

Step 6: Get on, and once on, continue to do minor checks to see you've still got his attention in a positive way. (Don't just get on and forget about your horse)

I hope this was helpful for you and your horse. I'd love your feedback. Comment below. 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!
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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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