The Power of Patience: In Her Own Words

In the final installment of the Power of Patience, Candace lets Performance Coach Vicky Teuton explain her approach to training in her own words.

Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton

Listening. I have learned to embrace the gifts of listening – to my inner voice – my horse – trainers whose approach “speaks to me.” Vicky Teuton (Performance Coach in No. Ireland) and her approach speak to me. Part III of the “Patience Trilogy” is in Vicky’s own words.

I am not an Eventer. I do not race Cross Country – intentionally. My experience of Vicky’s guidance of horses had “Pow!” value for me as a “forever student mature rider.” Vicky’s approach has value for every level rider and all disciplines.

How did you begin your life with horses? I’ve been around horses most of my life. I rode on the Junior Irish Event team at European Championships and hunted four days a week in Co. Galway as a teenager. I’ve been training and producing Irish Draught and Irish Sport horses for over 20 years and been blessed to win more than 30 Championships in Working Hunter and Performance classes.

Mistakes you feel you have made in your life with horses? Selling a horse before he was ready to compete. I learned that very few people understand when a young horse needs more time to grow. They think when a horse is broken, it should be fit to work like a seven-year-old. Too many good horses are ruined by people rushing. They mistake muscle weakness for bad behaviour. I sold a horse to a good friend last year, who texts me every so often to tell me the horse is on a breather because he’s growing again! I love and appreciate that approach. She will be rewarded with a wonderful horse partner.

Another mistake was letting criticism affect my training and performance. 

Vicky offered this quote, Don’t take criticism from people you would never go to for advice.” Morgan Freeman

I learned that people can be cruel when you’re doing well. Letting their negativity influence your day is a mistake. Do and be you. Learn new stuff every day. Focus on what makes your heart happy and surround yourself with people who do the same. 

Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton

What horse taught you the most and why? That’s difficult as I learn from every horse. Each time I think I know what I’m doing a horse comes along that makes me realize I still have so much to learn! I’ve had horses that took time and patience to connect with. Other people had given up on them. The horses were shut down and had learned responses that were difficult to change. 

Ghost came to me as a three-year-old mare. She had bucked her rider off. He broke his back. I restarted her and she turned out to be the most loving, gentle, fiercely competitive mare I’ve ever known. I type this paragraph with one eye on the foaling camera, as Ghost is in early-stage labour. She has had a glittering career and now has returned home to Ireland to breed at the age of fourteen.

Ghost’s foal, Rossi. Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton.

Vicky with Ghost’s foal, Rossi. Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton.

Anya and Rossi. Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton.

Give us one word that represents your work with horses. Patience.

Ha! I figured. Give us one more. Consistency.

What do you believe is the most valuable advice to offer horse owners/trainers and why? Ask for one thing at a time. Don’t move on until you both understand each other. Be consistent and patient. Learn what a relaxed, balanced, well-trained horse feels like in your hand. Don’t ride your horse until it feels like this on the ground. Groundwork, long-reining, lunging, pole-work, and walking in-hand all stretch and strengthen the horse. These techniques allow for training without the pressure of a rider onboard.

What equine experience can be had by embracing your methods? For a little extra time and patience on the ground, you are rewarded with a happy, relaxed, confident horse to enjoy.

What did you learn/experience yesterday? We took some horses schooling. They were fantastic. A couple of them are just learning to travel and have recently been started under saddle. In just two hours, it snowed, rained, and then turned to bright sunshine! We laughed about how versatile and hardy the Irish horses are. I learned that my long waterproof robe, lined in sherpa fleece, is my favourite item of clothing. I felt proud of each horse as we tucked them up for the night. I feel very blessed to do what I do.

Horses can hear our heart rates. They feel our stress. Most don’t like to take the lead, so they appreciate fair leadership and consistent guidance. Horses learn at different speeds, no one timescale fits all. The same applies with pressure. The key is to try to come to an agreement as to how much pressure is comfortable for both horse and rider. Remember that stretching must always be followed by strengthening. Love what you do and enjoy the journey.

Photo courtesy of Vicky Teuton

I write cheat note words on my hand as reminders, i.e., breathe, spunky, relax. I’m going to add patience and consistency. I need a larger hand.