“Hi Stacy-When I train horses and give them a break in between they normally seem to improve after the break…. BUT here and there is one horse you train and you give it a break and you have to start from scratch … truly from scratch … have you had horses like the last one if yes how often and what is the trick with these guys?”

I have trained both types of horses that you mentioned. I love to work with horses that I call ‘next day learners’ or horses that the next day come out and have really absorbed the lesson that was taught the day before. They may not be experts but they seem to have thought about what went on and they are applying the concepts at least.

Newt is a slow thinker

Newt is a slow thinker

Some horses, however, don’t come out the next day retaining the information. Some reasons for this can be; the lesson moved fast and the horse didn’t keep up, the lesson was unclear, the horse is a slow thinker, etc.

It sounds like you have trained a number of horses so we will pretend that the lesson was appropriate and that the horse seemed to absorb normally that day…which leaves us with the idea that the horse is a slow thinker.

These horses often require repeated lessons in the same subject. Yes, some days and weeks even it seems like you have been teaching the same thing over and over with little progress. The bad news is that the process is slow…the good news is that once these horses ‘get it’ they tend to hold onto it AND they tend to be solid. Generally slow thinkers don’t try to out think you.

Most horses thrive on consistency such as being worked 5-6 days a week. I especially find this to be true with the ‘foundation’ training. It is common to have some loss of retention after a long break especially earlier in the training.

As I get to know the horse I start to establish that individuals learning curve. I can remember training a handful of horses, like you described, where I actually chose during the first month to get them out everyday; it just wasn’t worth the regression of giving them time off. The work didn’t have to be hard, just consistent.

Once they reached a certain level, for example being solid at the walk/trot/lope and beginning of the spin, they seemed to level out some. They didn’t necessarily learn faster but they didn’t seem to back slide as much.

Interestingly, some of these horses have gone on to be very solid citizens later in life. As they don’t think quick they tend to almost never ‘cheat’ in the show pen or on the trail.

It makes me wonder how many of these horses are discarded early in training because of their slow thinking which at times can almost come across as a learning disability.