However, peopledo not realize that our equine friends are still very instinctual animals. In the wild, if something jumped on a horse’s back, it was there for onlyone thing. That horse was its next meal. Even today, horses have retainedthe instinctive defense of running away, bucking, and kicking. Because ofthese instincts, training a horse is a tedious and challenging process.
Atrainer must understand the way a horse’s mind works and use theinformation to obtain a goal. The reward for this process is a loving andtrusted counterpart. Horse training includes introduction and gainingtrust, familiarizing the horse with equipment being used, and finallyriding the horse with confidence. The first step in training a horse is the introduction. The wrongintroduction can lengthen the training process by months.
Horses arecurious by nature. The trainer uses this as an asset in the introduction. Rather than roping the animal and choking it down to touch it, a personneeds only to be in the pen with the horse. Eventually the animal willbecome curious and approach the person. When the horse approaches thetrainer, the trainer should blow directly into its nose. A horse willreact naturally to this behavior since this is the way horses introducethemselves in the wild.
The horse is only getting a scent from the newthing in the area. The horse should determine at that point that theperson is horse-friendly and allow the trainer to lift a hand and apply itto its body. At this point the trainer must just touch and talk to theanimal. By the end of the introduction, the trainer should be able to calmlyapply a halter. Once the halter is on the horse, the trainer must teachthe animal to lunge. Lunging is the process of putting a long rope on ahorse and having the horse walk, trot, or run in a circle around thetrainer.
Lunging is a useful tool in gaining the horse’s trust andteaching it basic word commands. Lunging and talking to the horse shouldbe done as much as possible. At the end of each workout, the trainershould take extra time to brush out the horse. This has the sametherapeutic value to the horse as a massage.
While in the process ofgaining the horse’s trust, the trainer should already have step two inmind. Now the horse is ready to be introduced to its equipment. The horseshould be introduced to its equipment in a safe and secure place, such aswhere it eats and sleeps. The new equipment should be put into the areabefore the horse is.
It should be at eye level and no loose straps orropes should be attached to it in any way. The animal should eat and sleepwith this equipment for at least two days before the trainer integrates itinto the daily workout. When bringing it to the training enclosure, thetrainer should be firm about the goal. The horse may still view the saddleas a wild cat that is looking for a scrumptious equine dinner. The saddleshould become a daily ritual, and it should be used for lunging as often aspossible.
During the first few work-outs, the saddle should be loose andprogress up to a nice tight cinch. At this point, the horse should be trusting of the trainer, familiarwith the equipment, and have a good understanding of word commands from thetrainer. The animal’s confidence should be high in the work area. If thehorse is still showing signs of insecurity, step one should be repeateduntil the desired result is obtained. Once the horse is secure with the trainer, area, and equipment, thetrainer should prepare to ride it. When the trainer mounts the horse, thehorse should be looking directly at the trainer.
The trainer should bevery verbal at this point, with a very reconfirming voice. When thetrainer is on the horse, the horse should already have a firm grasp of go,stop, and turn due to lunging. Once this process is completed, the trainer will have a trustedcounterpart and loving friend. A well-trained horse can bring many hoursof joy into the life of a trainer.