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The Benefits of Exposing Our Horses to Different Disciplines

Posted in Equestrian News, Home Page articles, western riding

The Benefits of Exposing Our Horses to Different Disciplines

the rider news sunset two horses and a rider

Something different from the reining pen for us and our horses.

June is J&J Reining Inc’s first show of the year. We always get excited – even though we have started to ride more in preparation for show season, and have already been to our first Reining show, when we ride the default thought is often on those few minutes in the show pen. 

Rationally  we also know that spending hours and days and weeks and months focussed only what happens in those four minutes, can become boring and repetitive for the rider and especially the horse, who really has no idea when or if ever they will set foot in a competition arena. 

Jen: In May, I took my team (Jonas Performance Horses) to the Ontario Paint Horse Club show at Ancaster,  to try our hand at their all-breed ranch classes. Something different from the reining pen for us and our horses. We all had a blast riding in the ranch reining, ranch riding, ranch trail, and ranch conformation classes! 
There are multiple benefits of exposing our horses to different disciplines.

1) It relieves boredom and exercises curiosity, stimulating the brain for both horse and rider. Horses are naturally curious, so giving them additional stimulation helps them develop their intelligence. Training is a source of mental enrichment, like puzzles are for humans, and this prevents mental stagnation for the horse with exposure to various challenges and new experiences. Putting our horses through a different discipline can also give them an avenue to learn and showcase their problem-solving skills. Through the training sessions, as the horses get exposed to different challenges, they learn to analyze, adapt their responses, and make decisions based on their understanding.

2) Better physical fitness. Training a horse is not about how long or hard you drill the horse on the same maneuver over and over again but how well you can get a result. A well-rounded horse training program targets different and specific muscle groups, promotes balanced muscle development, and reduces the risks of injuries. Furthermore, as horses improve their physical fitness, they can execute all movement gracefully and precisely.

3) More exposure encourages safe behavior. When horses are exposed to various environments, situations, and objects, it helps reduce their fear responses and reactivity. A well-trained horse is less likely to panic or be spooked, making them safer to handle.

4) And for me, most important is the expansion of your relationship with your horse into something  deep and trusting. This bond forms over time because of the mutual understanding and harmonious working dynamics which help both of you feel safe.

Sharon: As part of Jen’s group of clients I took my horse to the Paint show – as he is still mentally quite young the more exposure to different environments the better. I am also a fan of trail riding and took my horse to the Dundas Valley Conservation area a couple of times last year – it’s always helpful to see how they are going to react when something odd comes in to view. Like a riderless horse (that was scary) or people on bikes (what are those!) your horse learns to trust you as together, you navigate the different landscapes. And trust in the team is paramount when going to show.

Pictures are of people from Jonas Performance Horses doing things other than Reining!

Pro and Non-Pro articles written by Jen Jonas of Jonas Performance Horses (Pro) and Sharon Jones of Be A Better You (Non-Pro). Together, they are J&J Reining Inc. Both Jen and Sharon are believers in continual learning – if you’re not learning you’re not growing.


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