Q: How can you tell when a horse has reached the end of his ability, so you don't ask for something he can't do? - Marsha
A: Your horse’s conformation can tell you to a point what his physical limits might be, but it seems to me that anything a horse can do without a rider, he ought to be able to do with a rider. I believe he’s only limited by his understanding of what is being asked of him at any particular time.
The question shows how much Marsha cares, so she isn't likely to overexpose her horse. She just needs to stay aware of where her horse’s understanding is at and know that it can change as the situation changes.
I can teach a horse to do something, but he’ll do it better and more willingly if it’s his decision. It seems we’re always trying to hold the horse in a certain place, so I really work at being able to turn my horse loose - give him the freedom to make decisions. A lot of times he’s going to make mistakes, but that tells me where his understanding is at. I can build on that.
You’re going to make mistakes too, but if your heart is in the right place you can make mistakes and your horse will forgive you. He’ll get over it, as long you keep your emotions out of it and let the horse have a say in things.
If we were just working on mechanics, it would be a lot easier. But I think we all want it to be better than that. We want a working partnership. Right Marsha? - Joe