Sport Horse Training
Kaia specializes in alternative approaches to working with sport horses. A sport horse is a horse that we use for a particular discipline and ask for a higher degree of communication when in the saddle. Competing your horse doesn't define if they are a sport horse or not, striving for a higher degree of connection does. When working with the sport horse, your job as the rider and trainer becomes more difficult as you are now working with a 1000 pound athlete with a mind and emotions of it's own. After watching trainers of every discipline work with horses both successfully and unsuccessfully, Kaia changed her approach to working with sport horses to address the gaps that are often found in high communication riding. Riders are taught about horse language, what the role of the human body plays in riding, as well as becoming educated in horse care, training strategies and problem solving.
The Stages of Training
The horse training is broken down to four stages. Each stage represents an aspect of horse-human bond that can be celebrated and also overlooked. Some students might only be interested in stage 1 while others only stage 2 but for a well rounded horse person, I believe all four stages but be addressed. There are clinics and workshops that can accelerate the stages, as well as previous horse knowledge, but these stages are designed to take time and be a lifelong journey.
Stage 1 - Off the back work
In this stage, a student is taught how to connect with their horse, move with their horse, and respect what the horse is trying to say.
To complete stage 1, students are asked to be able to:
-Join up with their horses on a consistent basis
-Work at liberty (no restraints) in a round pen and with a halter in a field
-Groom, tack and bridle your horse at liberty in a pen
-Have your horse offer you their back for riding
Stage 2 - Equitation
In this stage, a student is taught what most think of as "normal horse back riding lessons" where students are taught the proper seat, quiet following hands, relaxed leg, and strong core use. Students are also taught how to communicate clearly through their natural aids.
To complete stage 2, students are asked to:
-Walk, trot, canter their horse with an independent seat
-Walk, trot, and canter over poles on a straight line
-Be comfortable doing transitions between and within gaits
-Comfortably ride in a field with their horse
-Ride in a neck rope in a round pen
-Not impede the horse through their riding ability
Stage 3 - Proficiency
In this stage, a student is taught how to work with and ride different horses. Students are asked to ride in a group lesson where they will watch how other riders address goals and challenges. Riders are also asked to pursue a specific goal between them and their horse.
To complete stage 3, students are asked to:
-Be able to work with and ride different types of horses
-Help other riders with their challenges and goals
-Pursue specific goals with their horse
-Know the training pyramid and feel comfortable working on each level
-Be knowledgeable in horse safety, horse hooves, bits, proper care of the horse, and able to teach others in a compassionate and educated way
Stage 4 - The warrior stage
Traditionally in many Native American cultures, horses were used as currency and yet, every warrior had their war horse. Their war horse was separate from their other horses and was connected to them in a spiritual way. This horse was never sold and lived their life intimately with the family. It was said that the horse had the ability to read the rider's mind in battle and help the rider stay on the horse's back in dire times. The horse was trained differently and connected to their person in a deeper way.
To complete stage 4, students are asked to, when ready:
-Spend a day with their horse and Kaia in a remote location