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  • Saskia Gerritsen

Patience and Progress

Have you ever heard the phrase:

Take the time it takes, so it takes less time ?

This is known among many horsemanship students because it is a favorite quote of Pat Parelli. It is basically a reminder, that slowing down is often the right strategy when it comes to interacting with horses.


Did you notice I wrote "often" and not "always"?


On one side, we can love our horses and just enjoy their company and go so slow that we don't make any progress. That is just fine, don't get me wrong. We can consciously choose for this option.

On the other side, we can be very ambitious and make progress as fast as is allowed by competition rules and age classes.

Also nothing wrong there in itself, just be aware that is also a choice.

Where you might get in trouble, is when you go too slow for what you want to achieve. Or if you go too fast for your horse (or yourself).

In both cases you get frustrated and feel further away from your goal.


If you never want to take a step outside of your comfort zone, you will not grow. If you never set up an opportunity for your horse to learn just beyond his current comfort zone, it will not expand. Horses are born with the full capacity to learn from the first second they can stand. Going too slow, or waiting too long, could result in an uncooperative horse.


If you go too fast, in one training session or with progress from one session to the next, same thing. Your horse might become mentally overwhelmed, or damaged physically. Many injuries are caused by the training itself and repetitive strain!

If you are like me, you are not very patient. You are always looking for the next step, always planning ahead and the chance is you don't like losing time on the way. Stretching your comfort zone? Kind of your main hobby!


Kaya's training is going in the right direction and we are "on schedule". Until now she is progressing as I had hoped. My plan for her is not as fast as possible, or maybe it is...?

You see, by not wanting to sit in the saddle asap, the first riding experience was much more valuable!

She understood what was happening and she participated in the process. She learned from it, not how to tolerate a rider but how to carry one.

I could already guide her and ask to move or stop. She yielded the hindquarters when I put my leg back.

So in a way she is progressing as fast as possible: at her exact pace!

This feeling with a young horse is amazing. I almost can't describe how it makes me feel. Every time I am amazed about what we can do together and that the horse also looks forward to the things we do. If you ask the right questions, they give permission for so much!


Kaya is the type of horse where too slow could get you in trouble. She thinks very fast and does not need a lot of repetitions. If she gets bored, she can become dominant and make her own plans.


But even with her, I had to take a step back here and there. The riding sessions that I planned on the evenings I had most time, could not always go through. I had a plan, I set the session up, but the lady was not in the mood!

In that moment it is very hard for me to let it be. Especially because the feeling of progress and achievement is so great!

But on the next day I mostly find out that it was the right decision to wait.

If after a step back we make two steps forward, that's worth some patience!

So can we still make progress if we take the time it takes?

Let me put the phrase in another perspective:

Take the time it takes, not too fast and not too slow: move at your horses pace and you will get where you want to go!

Let me know in the comments what this post has made you think about!

I love to hear from you. ~Saskia

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