DISCLAIMER: I have only owned horses for a year. I have, however, grown up around them, but my personal experience as an owner, such that is is, is only a year's worth, so take this for what its worth. Additionally, we ride western, use roping saddles (its a buyers market for really good used roping saddles btw) but we are more trail rider type people. Rodeos are just not our gig.
A. Horses are like toddlers... that learn 8xs faster than an average human. Just like when you become a new parent, suddenly everyone you know that already has or horse or has owned a horse, is an expert, you are doing it all wrong, and they will tell you all manner of nonsense without knowing your horse. Some will tell you to be the aggressive/dominant human, MAKE them respect you (aka beat the tar out of them when they act up) others will tell you just the opposite, and you'll get run roughshod over by your horse. THOSE SAME EXPERTS will rarely ever come help you in person. They are always much too busy.
Just think of that horse like they're a 1000 lb 4 or 5 year old child. Be the grown up. Love them but be the adult. Don't be afraid to tell your horse no. (recent example, my 19 year old daughter LET her smaller, heavier, shorter legged, older mare Nope try to keep up with Gina, our long legged 4yr quarter horse with heavy Thoroughbred breeding in a lope for almost a full mile. On a humid, sunny day. Nope has her winter coat in, plus had a sweat pad and a new fleece lined saddle pad on. She overheated. When I chewed my daughter out she said: Well? She WANTED to do it. Me: Well. Yeah. You &$*% near killed her. YOU wanted to play in the street when you were 4. I told you no. You have to be the grown up and say no. You have to know her limits.)
B. Get to know your horse. Their language is different than a dog or a cat's (predators both) YOU are a predator. They have spent thousands of years thinking ALL TEH THINGS want to eat them. I learned early its not like having a dog or cat - a stare down eye to eye only makes them nervous... that's what predators do before pouncing. Things like slapping them on the neck when you ride them to tell them Good Job can sometimes spook them... try scratching and an easy pat instead (some don't mind, but I have one though that will do anything in the world for you... so long as you do nothing that can be interpreted as a predatory motion. He's a nervous wreck but loving and willing. He is what he is.)
C. All horses are different. Someone already mentioned that. And its not just their personality. Some may have a rough trot, and a slow lope that's smooth as glass. Others may have a weird in between gait that looks fabulous but feels like your spine is going into your brain. Each one feels different, rides different. Reacts differently, has their own 'scratchy' spot. Their own HUH UH! NOT GONNA! moments. One of mine loves Skittles, one adores celery, others will fight you for an apple (Not really, but boy do they perk up if you have one). All of them seem to love a little bit of strawberry Twizzlers and a little 7up soda.
D. Learn to listen to them. They tell you when they're scared, tired, impatient, aggravated, feeling lazy, etc. Spend a lot of time with your horse to get to know what his/her body language means.
E. Google, Google, Google. You have the answers to the known universe available on your smart phone. Don't hesitate to google something, but then, double check with other sites. Read all you can when you have a question.
Now, personally, when we've gotten new horses home, I prefer to untrailer them, lead them to the tie up areas by our tack room, let them calm down and get familiar with me. I offer them feed, water, talk soothingly, groom them if they're calm enough. A younger horse, like a colt that's scared to death? We just turn them out in the small pasture with our 9 month old filly and our shy paint horse. No one feels threatened or pressured that way. Older horses, after we've been introduced over by the tack room, I put them out with weanling and the paint. Everyone gets along that way, then I gradually introduce the older horse to our other older horses. Then if I see a problem, like getting whupped off their feed, I move every one around until we find a good pasture match. I have no idea if that's the right way to do it, but it seems to keep the peace and everyone getting along and getting fed.
One other thing I've learned to ask: What bit has this horse been ridden in most? Its a massive PITA (and can be expensive) to have no way to find out, no idea, and to have to try to find out by trial and error. It can also cause your horse to act a fool if they hate a certain type of bit, and that can get you hurt. Its gotten two of ours in the dangerous habit of rearing up in an attempt to get away from the bit. Its taken a LOT of work to get them back out of the habit. SNAFFLE BITS! D RING SNAFFLES FOR EVERYONE!
I'm learning to speak horse in a crash course, and this is based entirely on what I've learned in a year through trial and sometimes very bad error. This was much longer than I intended, and every bit of it may be utter rubbish. I hope it helps but I acknowledge it may not be helpful at all.
"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
Last edited by AtokaGhosthorse; 10-24-2016 at 11:39 AM.