Yeah I was taught that too, but that statement is actually false. I got the first glimpse of how false it is in an incident 13 years ago when I was getting ready to write Bobby’s Diaries.
And that experience has been validated a thousand or more times since, both with me and with students too. When you have the kind of relationship that your horse is wanting to learn something new and when they are actively and happily participating in the learning, then when you teach something on the near side, they’ll know it on the off side too.
You may need to do a bit of work to get to the place where your horse is that confident and happy in their learning – but once you’re there, you only need to teach it once.
What I was taught way back in the old days, was that what we teach them on the left – for example when you teach a hindquarter step under from the horse’s near side, then “they” say you have to re-teach from the beginning when you change sides and teach the same step from the off side. That’s only true if you’re using too much force or “make” (even accidentally) or God forbid, bullying a horse into doing something.
I have some very strong views about bullying. The biggest thing wrong about bullying our horse is IS NOT the fact that we’re bullying our horse – we all stuff up and stuff ups are what we grow from. It’s that once we know there’s a gentler more considerate way and choose to stay in that emotional space of forcing the horse and repeating the bullying. THAT sucks. Hmmm… there’s a whole blog in this subject!
When you’re connected to your horse, listening to your horse, using Feel to not push into force or “make” accidentally, where you don’t push through resistance, where you’re working deliberately with keeping them in their Comfort Zone, when you’ve created a relationship with your horse where they are delighted to learn new things, enjoying and actively participating in the process – then you teach something once and they know it, no matter what side you taught it from.
You only have to teach it ONCE and the job’s done…
I’d love to chat about all the nuances and expansions of this in the comments!
Fast Track to Brilliant Riding is the program that will teach you the kind of Feel you need to be able to teach something new to a horse, once.
Photo above: Our Sunny Girl having her feet trimmed at liberty by Monica, who sadly for us, is out driving a truck these days and not trimming horse’s feet any more. We have another fabulous feet trimmer now. 🙂