The head and neck carriage cannot be emphasized enough. It is with this carriage that many trainers make a serious schooling error. Many people hurry the horse to market or a competition. With gadgets and forced upper-level aids, one can get the young or uneducated horse to make an abrupt upper-level transition or sudden halt; however, doing so predisposes the horse to stiff muscles and to resistances such as grinding the bit, fear of the rider, nervous attitude, and, with horses of certain temperaments, stubbornness or sourness. Some of these horses may be seen later at a competition being lunged to exhaustion in order to be quiet enough to compete. Others may be drugged and completely locally. Others may find a new owner and be reclaimed.

In reclaiming an older horse, the work in the second schooling period may take longer, six to ten weeks, but it will be vital to success. The “reclaimer” will have setbacks in the program as he recalls unhappy experiences and repeats old habits. It is, therefore, necessary to return to stabilization regularly to reestablish the foundation before moving on again. The trainer should take the older being reclaimed to the point that his head and neck carriage is nearly returned to his three-year-old stage. This will help the horse establish both mental and physical stability.

The horse’s mental stability and movement are closely related to the head and neck carriage. If an error has been made by introducing something too soon or too harshly, return to simple exercises that he knows in order to restore mental calmness and physical relaxation.

The horse will begin to become better balanced under the weight of the rider through simple exercises and gradual transitions. Eventually, the head and neck position will be raised, especially in transitions down. Avoid the temptation  to force the head and neck to come up in the transitions.

The rider is passive but not permissive. Each lesson must be planned out, but little is accomplished relative to an advanced lesson. The horse’s physical and mental progress needs to be evaluated regularly, although at this period, for some riders not much exciting is taking place.

If the rider is used to riding only upper-level horses, then it may be difficult to feel the changes or to understand the role interval learning plays in training the young horse. Given time, the horse becomes more naturally connected, remains calm, and develops the best qualities in his movement. The importance of stabilization as a foundation to the future training of the horse as he develops mentally and physically may not be fully realized until a rider/trainer has achieved it successfully on at least two or three horses.

In the second period of schooling, it becomes clear that the ideal conformation of a hunter or jumper works best in this system. Accommodate any serious conformation faults, especially head and neck carriage, as the training progresses. Horses are built differently. If a horse is lower in the front than behind (assuming he is has finished growing), this will lead to problems in schooling, specifically teaching contact and establishing a good connection. If a horse has a very high head carriage, mental instability may be a consistent problem as well as shortened gaits. Further, a horse with above-average natural agility will be able to handle all the lessons (lunging, gradual transitions, wide turns) more easily than a horse that is less coordinated. The latter horse will require  more practice with wide turns and very gradual transitions.

Do not go on in the schooling program until the objectives of the second schooling period have been achieved; that is, the horse is stabilized and maintains the gait and speed asked for, whether alone or in company, on the flat in a field or “jumping” with the rider using elementary control techniques. All of these are achievable at this stage of development provided they are on the beginning level; for example, “jumping” here means calmly approaching and departing from the poles.

Allowing the horse to learn to balance himself under the weight of the rider with an extended head and neck through a series of gradual transitions and large circles and turns is the key to schooling the young horse in this period. When pupils are learning to school, these first two periods or eight weeks are very difficult for advanced junior and amateur riders who are used to riding upper-level horses, especially with accuracy and promptness. The aids, transitions, and turns are made simple for the unbalanced green horse. The rider should use controls that are on the horse’s level of education. The training goes slowly and takes considerable patience and thought. Consider often what the horse thinks of the rider and what he is doing.