I have worked for a few horse trainers and followed some of the most famous ones while trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go with my training career. In the process of developing my own style and techniques, I have incorporated several tricks, tips, styles, techniques and methods into my own. One thing I have learned over the years is that wet saddle blankets is what makes a solid, broke horse that is a pleasure to ride.
Wet saddle blankets indicate a good workout and a learned lesson. When I say wet saddle blankets, I don’t mean running my horse around in the round pen until (s)he is dripping wet and out of air. That is NOT training. Wet saddle blankets come from riding your horses whether it be on the trail, in the arena, on the gallop track or in the field and actually making them move their feet and bodies.
Remember that horses can’t learn if they are puffing for air. Work your horses in stages at all gaits and allow ample time to air up. Walking and standing give the horse time to think about what you just “taught” them or the exercises your just reviewed with them. Mix up your exercises with trotting and loping big circles, small circles, straight lines, serpentines and daisies. You can use cones, poles, tires, barrels, trees or anything else you have laying around to keep your horse’s mind on you and focus on what you are trying to teach them.
One of my favorite exercises involves 6 barrels set up in a diamond pattern; what it will look like is two patterns mirroring each other. See picture below (I apologize in advanced for the image being hard to read, I made it in paint and can’t figure out how to change the colors ;-).)
The advantage of this exercise is that you can change it up so many different ways that you will always keep your horse(s) thinking! This is a good way to get your saddle blankets wet and work your horses on the pattern without burning them out. Remember to properly cool down your horse, allow ample time for air and if possible hose your horse down when you are finished. I always make a point to hose my horses legs down after a hard workout whether it is hot or cold to keep things flowing and tight. Happy training!