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Training Horses

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  • I've been treat training my horse, should I just stop
  • Traditional methods of budget constraints horses

 
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    09-26-2008, 11:29 AM
  #1
Green Broke
Training Horses

I'd like to open a dialogue about training methods. I would like this to be a friendly discussion where we can learn more about the different ways to train horses. Please remember to BE NICE and don't put down someone's training method just because it's not what you ascribe to or believe is "right". I'll try hard to heed my own advice! :)

Please share what kind of training methods you employ with your current horse(s), what methods you have used in the past, and why you currently train the way you do. Please give us some background on yourself: how long you have ridden, trainer(s) you have worked with, number and types of horses you have worked with, level of training you have done (basics, pleasure, show/performance, problem horses, etc.), and anything else you'd like to share.

I'll post my own experiences later today or tomorrow. I have to go to work now! I do look forward to everyone's responses and civil discussion. 8)
     
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    09-26-2008, 01:06 PM
  #2
Trained
Well, I"m not going to write a great big long story. I have no formal training how terrible (I've been told many times), but my horses always get compliments.

My most basic training methods are:

1. Repetition -- lots and lots
2. Reward based -- pressure and release as well as treats (yes, I do the treat rewards)
3. Patience -- another one of lots and lots
4. Consistency
     
    09-26-2008, 07:16 PM
  #3
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by northernmama
Well, I"m not going to write a great big long story. I have no formal training how terrible (I've been told many times), but my horses always get compliments.

My most basic training methods are:

1. Repetition -- lots and lots
2. Reward based -- pressure and release as well as treats (yes, I do the treat rewards)
3. Patience -- another one of lots and lots
4. Consistency
I'm work our young ones the same way, but just use praise instead of treats until they're done.

I'll add...

5) Always end on a good note, even if it means doing something 'easy'.
6) Variety...keep their mind busy.
7) A great seasoned/lead/pony horse. My experience has been that the young ones learn a LOT faster from our seasoned, 'boss mare', than from any human, amateur or professional.
     
    09-27-2008, 10:47 AM
  #4
Foal
I have to agree with the last two posts on 1-6 the seventh post makes sence but my Mares are not bossy enough for my geldings...
Anyway I have been riding horses for many years but this year has been my first at starting a horse. Most of my other horses were already green broke and I just put miles and miles on them.
     
    09-28-2008, 02:10 AM
  #5
Weanling
I AGREE 110% with #7. A good pony horse is worth it's weight in gold!

As to problems - I think the roundpen is the most overused and misunderstood "method" on the market today. I use a roundpen to teach a horse when I don't want to be "tethered" to him, or, when the horse needs a "hands off" approach to learn what it is I want him to learn. The roundpen is a VERY small classroom! Once the horse gets it - we are out of the roundpen and putting what he learned into practice. Too much of what I see today looks like the handler going "I'm the boss! I'm the boss! I'm the boss!" or mindnumbing pointless repetitions without giving the horse a reason for doing what is asked of him other than to do it because the handler is "the boss" and the horse has no other option but to comply.

I guess if I were to add any advice it would be...

KNOW your horse and KNOW yourself - be honest in evaluating both strengths and weaknesses.

Teach the horse that is in front of you, as he is TODAY. He is not the last horse you trained, he is not the horse in the books/videos, he is not your neighbor's horse or anyone gazing at this site's horse...he's YOUR horse - teach THAT horse, as he stands before you TODAY, not as he was yesterday, or the day before or as you want him to be, but as he is TODAY.

Educate yourself. You cannot teach what you don't know.

Don't practice mistakes. If what you are doing isn't working - STOP doing it.

Horses have no concept of time...and when training, neither should you.

Not everyone who wants to train a horse can, or should. Most folks are ever so careful when choosing a trainer for their horse, but refuse to look at themselves with the same critical eye.
     
    09-28-2008, 02:36 AM
  #6
Green Broke
Wow all of this is great advice! Awesome post. I am not posting anything about my training methods as I am still learning, but I am taking to heart everything I have read so far as I have a 2 1/2 yr old. Sometimes, training seems like such a huge feet. I've come across 3 trainers that are affordable to me and none of them have truly equaled how I want things handled with my horse. Its tough.
     
    09-28-2008, 07:25 AM
  #7
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horse Poor
As to problems - I think the roundpen is the most overused and misunderstood "method" on the market today. I use a roundpen to teach a horse when I don't want to be "tethered" to him, or, when the horse needs a "hands off" approach to learn what it is I want him to learn. The roundpen is a VERY small classroom! Once the horse gets it - we are out of the roundpen and putting what he learned into practice. Too much of what I see today looks like the handler going "I'm the boss! I'm the boss! I'm the boss!" or mindnumbing pointless repetitions without giving the horse a reason for doing what is asked of him other than to do it because the handler is "the boss" and the horse has no other option but to comply.
Yes, I totally agree !!!

The real world is a VERY scary place for a horse, especially if you ride alone, and no amount of 'training' can replace 'experience', and experience takes many, many miles of riding.
     
    09-28-2008, 07:36 AM
  #8
Weanling
I owned and rode a handful of ponies and horses as a kid and teenager, and I've owned one horse for almost 2 years as an adult. I did a handful of small, local shows as a kid, but otherwise, I'm a trail rider exclusively. I've never been a weekend warrior--I've always ridden my horses almost daily.

I thus have no experience with riding in a ring or training in a ring--I know nothing about collection, jumping, WP, etc. Lunging or roundpenning would bore me to tears.

But when it comes to problems--trailer loading, out on the trails, at home, in the barn, etc., I think that "move their feet" is highly overrated. In 9 years of owning and working with horses, I've never had a problem that couldn't be solved by quieting a horse down and making it stand until it does what I want it to do (either in the saddle or on the ground). When a horse resists, I don't make it "move it's feet," instead I outwait the horse--let him look around, think about it, and sooner or later the horse realizes that resistance is futile, and the horse goes ahead and does what I want. The next time, the horse does it twice as a fast, and by the third or fourth time, there's no resistance at all. The horse has figured out that I mean what I say.

For me, lead mares and gelding bullies make other horses move their feet. People should be leaders using quiet confidence--slow things down, quiet the horse down--why should our leadership style be the same as a horse's? Sure, we need horse language on occasion--if a horse bites me, he's going to get smacked but good. But otherwise, the key to handling horses is to never begin a task that you don't finish--time with my horse never ends up with the horse being turned out because "I'll show him tomorrow." Keep in mind, now, I'm not talking about arena work/training here--just everyday horse jobs like going down the trail, standing for grooming, loading in a trailer, etc.

That's my training philosophy. The horse is going to do what I say, no matter how long I have to wait. Horses tend to sense that kind of attitude pretty quickly.

Until you really know what you are doing, I also always recommend keeping control of a horse's head directly with a leadline or reins. Leave the lunge lines and liberty round pen work to folks who already know how to handle a horse. That kind of thing is not for beginners. The number of threads I see on this forum and others about people new to horses who are letting their horses run free in roundpens and arena only to find the horses charging at them and rearing is truly frightening.
     
    09-28-2008, 07:47 AM
  #9
Weanling
So far, I like all the posts on this thread--great idea for a thread, and lots of good advice already!
     
    09-28-2008, 12:16 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Okay, my turn ;).

I have been riding most of my life with the last 15 years doing more than just being a passenger on a well trained horse. I have worked with some great trainers over the years including a German (from Germany) Dressage/Eventing trainer, classical and competitive American Dressage trainers, H/J trainers, a John Lyons trainer, an NH trainer who used a hodge-podge of the different gurus along with his own methods, two Sally Swift centered riding instructors, and my last trainer was one who did ALL of the evens for Arabian shows, Paints, and open shows (both Arab and Paints up to the World/Nationals level).

I myself have only done limited showing due to time and budget constraints. The training above took enough of my money early on, lol.

I ride western and English. I train my horses to neck rein, jog, and lope, as well as to jump, lengthen the trot/canter, and collect (true collection, not just going slower).

For the past 4-5 yrs I have been on my own. I have developed my own "way" based on those experiences. I use a mixture of NH and traditional methods, basically whatever works, lol. Each horse and each situation is different, so I try to figure out what will work best, and move on when it doesn't. I am not a professional trainer. I train my own and help friends when they ask for it. I also enjoy relating my experiences on line when I can.

The first principle that I ascribe to is R-E-S-P-E-C-T! I want 100% solid ground manners first and foremost. I do a lot of in-hand work on the lead (from both sides) and on the lunge. I will do some round pen work when I have access to a round pen (my new house that the horses are moving to TOMORROW! YEAH! Does not have a round pen and likely won't). When I don't have a round pen, I use a long 15' lead and do work on that. I teach my horses to ground tie, come when called, and respect my space. They learn to take treats nicely, back off from their food when I say, and stand with one or two feet in a bucket (this is a HUGE help when you have one with an abscess or other reason to soak a foot/leg).

To accomplish this I use some NH methods, a handy Dressage whip, and a lunge whip. My horses are not afraid of the whip, but they do respect it. It is an extension of me, what I would do with my hand if I could. I do not use endless repetition. Once they get it, we move on. We only revisit an early lesson if they get rusty or just need a "tune up" after some time off. With my two current horses, I haven't done (major) ground work with them in about 2-3 years. They are still very well behaved in the saddle and out, and people who visit are always amazed at how well they behave. They are both happy to see me and eager to spend time together. I expect them to be good. When they're not, they get a quick but firm correction, and we move on.

In the saddle I use Classical Dressage fundamentals, back to front training, with the aid of my Dressage whip if needed. On my current horses, I haven't had to ride with a Dressage whip in 2-3 years, but I will if I have to. It helps get their attention behind my leg. I don't like to kick a lot or wear spurs, so the whip helps reinforce my leg (I apply the whip behind my leg on the barrel, right next to the flank). If my horse acts up, I correct with the whip on the shoulder, recollect myself and the horse, and move on. I will try to figure out WHY my horse acted up and correct that, but I do not appreciate poor behavior, no matter what the cause. I am very anal about my horse's tack fit, placement, condition, and their teeth/mouth health, so that is never the cause. If the horse is just bored or distracted, then we do what we were doing quickly, then move on to something else. If the horse doesn't understand (which is still no reason for poor behavior), then I'll try different approaches until we find one that works.

I agree with whoever said, ALWAYS end on a GOOD note! Horses are like people, they have good and bad days. On a bad day, we do VERY simple saddle work, and quit while we're ahead. If I can see things will be bad before we start, then we'll just go on a "walk" in hand. Let the horse relax and work on some minor ground work while we're at it. I let them graze in hand and just explore (but making sure that I'm walking the horse, not the other way around, lol). This is a great bonding experience for you and your horse, and lets them experience things without the stress of having a rider. One new trails we ALWAYS walk the horse in hand for at least part of the way until they relax. Walking in hand also helps your horse learn to depend on the handler for comfort/support, instead of another horse. Buddy or barn sour horses are such a pain to work with...

Wow, okay, I'm writing a book, lol. Sorry everyone .

What it all boils down to is RESPECT, and doing whatever it takes to attain that. If NH works, then good. If not, I move on to traditional methods. Once respect is earned, we keep moving forward!
     

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