Friday, May 31, 2024

The T-Team: Frequency & Opportunities

When I read The Compound Effect the part that struck me the hardest was that our life choices are 100% our responsibility.  Not 80/20, 50/50, or 90/10--100%.

It has been a challenging year, yes. Many extra things were put on my plate, yes. But that could not be an excuse to stop doing the things I need and love to do. It was up to me to make it happen.

Frequency is very important--consistency--but not so much the amount of time doing it. Therefore, I lowered my expectations of what a training session looks like. It doesn't have to be loading up and heading out. It can be 30 minutes on the ground at home. Whatever it takes, just so that it's daily. Frequency builds the relationship and the trust.

In Atomic Habits, he pointed out that it's okay to miss one day--life happens--but don't miss two. Otherwise, you are forming a new habit--the habit of not doing the thing you want to do. Eventually, it will derail you from success. I want to be successful with what I'm doing with Tweed, and we need consistency if we're going to build our teamwork.

It's my observation that the more you work with your horse, the more you will run into big obstacles and resistance, because, if you're working with them everyday, you are working in wind, rain, general chaos, and fluctuating moods. All of those things are opportunities, but...they're also challenging and--well--sometimes discouraging. 

The good news is that about the time you are so thoroughly discouraged you're thinking about giving up, you usually have the most unbelievably wonderful day to keep you going. 

All of this consistency, and thinking about horsemanship, led to a drastic shift in my concept of "training." It struck me that we are a TEAM, and it is TEAM TRAINING, not Tweed training. I played a lot of sports growing up, so this concept is very comfortable. I go to the barn, meet with my teammate, suit up, and we train together. It's as much about me as him. 

I need to practice not looking down. I need to practice sitting back on my butt and not tipping forward. I need to practice having more courage..balance...strength...understanding...and communication.

Where is the T-Team at today?

Well, we are working on a few things:

1. Trot to lope transitions. Tweed was getting emotional during the transitions, so we started doing lots and lots of them. Now, he goes back and forth pretty darn good, and we don't have to spend much time warming up.

2. Vertical flexion and working off the leg.

3. Getting back to work. Tweed, like all horses, wants to get worried about things around us. His herd mates eating grass while he works. Grandson throwing dirt. Cows running up with big white bags in their mouths. Training at home has provided us endless (ahem) opportunities.

4. Maintaining speed. Tweed wants to walk at a 2, and when I ask for a 3 or more of a working walk, it is harder on him and makes him want to take up the trot. Going slower also gives him opportunities to think about other things and tune me out.

Here are a few videos of the work from the last couple of days. The first day was with my trainer.

Trot to lope transitions, on the line, just in case the cows sleeping nearby did something crazy.

Turning on the rail. (Right now, we're only doing this at the walk and trot. The object is to keep him going the same speed, turn, then pick the speed back up. It's not there yet, but should come soon.)

This next clip is long and boring, but it wasn't boring in saddle, because I could feel Tweed getting worked up underneath me, even if it doesn't show in the video. 

Before this, one of the cows got up and started shaking a big white bag. Tweed worked through it very well.

But right before this clip, my dog, Lucy, went over and started to bother the rest of the cows, which got them up and moving away. You can see that Tweed starts to arch his neck and slow down. He is wanting to take control back. He really, really wants to look at them and get excited. I had visions of last week swirling through my head. (The Scary Cow Obstacle).

Sorry about the audio. It was windy and lots of airplanes in the sky that day.

Today, we were out there working on the same things, but alone. It was a much nicer day--no wind, and no cows--but my husband did jump on the 4-wheeler and zoom out with our dog, Lucy. A part of me wanted to yell out, Hey, we're training over here. Be quiet! But then I remembered that it's good training...and I need to use it as an opportunity.

As I look back at this video, it seems that without my trainer there reminding me, I'm not keeping him in vertical flexion. His head is bobbing around freely much more, and that is also affecting his turns. They became wider, rather than rocking back on his haunches. I'll have to send this to her, and see if she agrees.

I look forward to the day that Tweed and I have a working rhythm, communication, and mutual respect.

We're chipping away at it.


  1. I love the team concept. It’s one I’m thinking of more too. I always figure that I’m at about 80-90% without my coach there. But I’m okay with that because it’s all part of the learning. You guys are looking good.

    1. Thank you.

      I told my trainer I need her with me everyday. She just laughed said I need to do it on my own so that I know where I need to grow and get help. Without my coach there, currently, I feel like I’m at 50%. I do like to review the videos. They’re much longer, about 45-50 minutes or so. The ones with my trainer are really good review. You can only absorb so much when you’re working in saddle.

      I want to find a better name for our team. T-Team is just a working name. When Infind the right name, I want to get a t-shirt made with it.

      Any ideas are welcome!

  2. It's hard to think of everything that is going on and what little things you can do to make improvements when you are own your own- so much easier when you have someone coaching!
    One little bitty thing I noticed is how you use your body when you stop. Ask your trainer about it. I could elaborate but it's better if you get her to see what you are doing live rather than me watching a video.
    Horsemanship is definitely a journey; and it is a lifelong journey. Not so much a goal with a finite end as in most journeys, but an ongoing unravelling. Have fun with it.

    1. She wants me to slightly tip my pelvis for the stop, rather than sitting back. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re seeing, but it’s something I have a bad habit of doing. There are so many things she’s picking up that she probably can only concentrate on a few things at a time. Yes, it is definitely a lifelong journey. Starting with a new horse feels like starting from square one, but it has been fun.

    2. Yes that is what I saw, you tend to lean your shoulders back rather than, as she said, tip your pelvis. An easy way to picture it is "roll your back pockets down to the saddle seat". When we just lean our upper body back it tends to cause our lower back to hollow and brace, which makes the horse brace instead of melting into the stop.

    3. Yes, we work on that a lot. I’ve been doing this lean back for so many years that it will take awhile to form a new habit. What I should do is make a list of things to concentrate on when in saddle and look at that list before I ride. I think I’ll ask my trainer to make that list.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.