California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

Ask An Expert

Question: I have a young horse who sometimes gets a little frustrated when I work on new things. I hear that I am supposed to end on a good note but am not sure how to do that when we are having troubles. What can I do to accomplish that?

Jill Beltran: Yes, but let me clarify "good note."  Understanding that a horse learns by progression, when training a horse it's unreasonable to expect perfection for quite some time.

I expect on a daily basis a good honest effort from my horses. On a day that I am training new ideas and the horse is having a bit of trouble understanding, I know that there is always tomorrow and so, to end, I will go back to something that the horse already knows and is comfortable with. For example, if I were training a young horse who is already very good at walk/trot trot/walk transitions but has a bit of a hard time in trot/canter canter/trot transitions. I would school the difficult transitions for a while, expect an honest effort, and then go back to the transitions that he is already comfortable with.  

That's my idea of ending on a good note. Horses learn differently from humans. It takes them longer to process new ideas. But once they understand, they will relax and improve.

Jill Beltran has an extensive history in dressage from Training through Grand Prix, and she has earned USDF bronze, silver and gold medals.  She is pictured here with Waling, her 14 yr old Grand Prix Friesian gelding. Jill teaches and gives clinics
on a regular basis. For more information, visit