When starting to train your horse for the first time, it is important to know and understand how horses think and react. Horses are a flight animal, therefore it is imperative that training your horse is a gradual process of building a relationship and trust. Ideally, you want your horse to see you as their leader or lead mare as they instinctively are herd animals and will respond to your leadership. Here at Petplan, we have put together some of our top tips when training your horse…
First things first
- Confidence is key: for a horse to be trained properly, it must first trust you. This can be achieved by spending time with your horse through either grooming, massaging or taking walks with your horse to establish you are the leader on the ground.
- Take your time: patience is the key and taking your time to properly train your horse will benefit you in the long run. When we rush things, we tend to make a lot of mistakes – the same can be said for training your horse. By going through each step with your horse and giving them time to learn these steps allows them to have a better understanding of what you want them to do and how they should behave.
- Know your end goal: If you have a desired goal that you want to achieve through your training process, the training will become easier and more effective. This goal shouldn’t be something as broad as “having a good riding horse” but should be much more specific to your wants and needs.
What is your goal?
Think about what you will be doing most with your horse and write out the process that will occur during this activity. Based on this, you will be able to train your horse around your intended goal.
For example, if you intend to take your horse away on day trips, your process/goals could look like this:
- A schedule to make the horse get used to trailer loading and travelling so you can drive to the destination. Even short practice trips will start a good foundation in this training.
- A schedule to make the horse get used to traffic.
- Working on the condition of your horse.
- Ensure the horse receives a basic groundwork training so he can have more trust in you and you can drive safely.
Remember to always be flexible with your goals without giving up on them. Some horses may not suit the goals you are planning for them at the time, so it’s best to know your horse before planning their training.
- Be prepared: a mistake that is often made in horse training is when an owner sees something in a video or a demo and they want their horse to be able to do that without the required preparation that needs to happen. Before you teach your horse anything, you need to have an approach. Before teaching your horse something new, ask yourself: what do I need for it, what is the right way to teach this, and how can I prepare my horse? You can even ask for help from a more experienced rider for assistance.
- Make it fun: don’t make training your horse a chore, it should be a fun bonding time for the both of you. If you’re wanting to teach them something specific, there are always different ways to teach them and the more interaction for the both of you, the more enjoyment you will have. For example, take your horse out to different environments such as trail ride, beach ride or even take to a competition (don’t ride) and get them use to the environment. If there is no correlation between training and enjoyment for either you or the horse, then there will be no great connection between you both and therefore making it harder for your horse to learn.
- Listen to your horse: Horses constantly communicate, although subtly, allowing their trainers to know what they want and get the most out of their training. A big mistake to make is being an overbearing trainer and only giving commands, leaving no actual connection between you and your horse. Learn to observe your horse during training and working out what they like, if they feel comfortable, are they too tired, and other certain characteristics that may mean they do or don’t like the training.
- Be happy with any progress: Training can take a long time so don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Work on a step by step structure, rewarding your horse with every bit of progress no matter how small, and even if they do try but don’t succeed. Try not to put too many expectations on the horse as you will soon become frustrated – the horse can only give you what they are capable of. Be proud of your progress!
If you have any horse training tips, let us know in the comment section below!