Ten minutes is a long time.
You can accomplish a lot in 10 minutes of focused effort.
Ten minutes isn’t very long.
Most days you can probably find 10 minutes to work with your horse.
When I started filming most of my training sessions with my horses, to using in my courses or share with my online community, I noticed something very interesting.
If it was a good, productive session that was fun for both me and my horse, it was most likely less than 10 minutes. The times when things didn’t go well, when we ended up frustrated or in a fight, it was nearly always over 10 minutes. And the odds of something going wrong would get exponentially higher the longer we worked on it.
Horses don’t have unlimited attention spans. Just like humans, they get bored, or discouraged, or frustrated when they’re asked to do the same thing over and over. Keeping it short means it stays fun, interesting and engaging for them.
Humans tend to get hyperfocused on our goals. We’re trying to accomplish something, and we just keep trying, over and over and over, without stopping to evaluate what’s happing, or if there might be a better way to approach it.
I’ve found that 10 minutes is a good balance of time.
I challenge you to try it next time you work with your horse, especially if you’re trying to teach them a new skill or are working hard to polish an existing one. Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes – you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in that time. And – at the end you and your horse will still be having fun, instead of being tired and frustrated, leaving you with a much better feeling about what you’re working on and making you both keen to come back to it tomorrow.
And if you do have the time and inclination to work with your horse for a longer period of time, the ten minute rule is still very useful – work on one area or skill for 10 minutes, and then stop, no matter how it’s going, take a break (let them graze, a walk break if they’re in harness, something low pressure and relaxing), and then when you start up again work on something else.
10 minutes, set a timer. You can always stop sooner, but when that timer goes, you have to be done. Let me know your experiences after you try it!