Horses can only absorb so much training so fast. Each has a point where everything else becomes overload and the fuses in their brains just blow.
So, I always believe in making my cues as simple as possible and going as slowly as needed. I also believe in going back to basics - back as far as is needed - if a horse does appear to be going on overload. It's critical that the horse not lose his confidence as you layer on new cues and challenges.
My process goes something like this: In the beginning I use lots of set-up - this puts the horse in the proper position so he's ready to listen and respond to whatever I ask next. I then add cues so that over time, my cues can become more subtle and softer. As the horse learns and progresses through series after series of setup and cues, his body becomes more balanced which just makes everything easier. If he gets frustrated or stuck, I go back to the work and cues he's confident with then progress forward again from there.
As you build layer upon layer of training, you need less set-up and fewer prep cues as the horse learns his job. The end result is a simple and clear communication between you and your horse. I hope this helps! See you next week, JD.