Originally Posted by franknbeans
Better yet, work with a trainer from the beginning. It is easier to do it right the first time rather than fix it. Above all, as NRHA said-don't be in a hurry. For me it is also helpful to have a trainer who has experienced horses for ME to learn on (I was a h/j person) so that I know exactly what to do, and don't mess up my horse.
+1 on the don't be in a hurry. (like the +1 reference?)
I have seen a lot of Horses that were shown too early and before they had a real foundation that they understood. They might make it through a few patterns Ok but it will fall apart at some point down the road if they don't have a clear understanding. The sad thing is that the very natural ones that may have made great competitors can be ruined by pushing them too early.
I think we do that anyway. Look how long it takes to make an upper level Dressage Horse and we have got 3 year olds doing lead changes. Don't get me wrong, it can be done right, but as the folks here have stated wisely, take the help from a Pro, go slooooow, and get them understanding how to control all the body parts.
When I finally figured out that I wasn't going to win the Futurity, it became more important to have a solid Horse that would last a long time and be fun to Show/ride. OK, so it might be a bit of a rationalization...
In the mean time just get him nice , quiet and soft. The finesse of the maneuvers are really added in layers on top of a good foundation.
Best of Luck!