Make no mistake about it - each and every time you handle or ride your horse you are training it! Many people spend tons of money having their horses professionally trained only to "untrain" the horse every time they ride or handle the horse themselves.
I realize this is difficult because riders must learn to ride their own horses but, often I see amateurs allowing their horses to do things that professionals just would not allow. Some great examples are letting a horse swing it's rear out after a stop, or letting it move into the rider's leg when trotting or loping off, or pulling on the reins and coming out of the bridle after a stop. There are many, many more examples of "untraining" a horse and some are very elementary things but they are very important points of training. Also, they are easy to understand and easy for an amateur rider to correct if they remain aware and alert.
A rider must be alert when riding and handling their horse. Obliviousness makes it much harder for the horse to learn to do his job. The horse learns quickly that it is ok when his owner is riding to pull on the reins, wiggle after a stop, turn on the forehand, etc. etc. To make matters worse, often the horse then tries it with the trainer. This becomes a confusing and frustrating situation for the horse.
Collectively, we - the rider, owner and trainer - have an obligation to the horse to be consistant. This makes for a less stressed horse, a horse that is more eager to learn, and in general just a happier equine and human partnership! See you next week, JD.