Anyone who owns or works around horses know that from the moment they are born, individual personalities begin to emerge. Some are anxious or skittish; others are scared of loud noises. Because each horse is different, it is impossible to treat them all the same when developing horsemanship or training for classical dressage or showjumping. From the moment you first touch the animal, you are beginning a conversation, and it is up to the animal as to whether it will listen to you and do what you are asking of it. Here are five tips you can use when training your horse.
Everyone walks, rides, and talks to their horses differently, but once a horse gets used to a specific signal, they know to look for it. The poor animal can be very confused if two people use their leg press to mean different things. To help your horse, be consistent in your use of signals in your training.
Although positive and negative reinforcements are often used as rewards when training a horse, they are not the best way to motivate the animal. If you use your voice to praise him in soft neutral tones, he will often be more willing to do what you want because of the perceived friendship. Food is a good reward, too.
Horses are naturally curious, and that can lead them to develop rebellious behavior when they get bored. Refrain from monotonous routines or exercise repetition to prevent a stubborn horse’s attitude from ruining a training session. The change can be as simple as turning left instead of right as you move around the paddock or moving the height of the wing standard horse jump. Anything new can stimulate curiosity in the animal.
Skills aren’t learned in a day; they are developed over time. So, be patient with your horse. Stop after two or three repetitions and never punish your horse if he refuses to continue.
Remember, training a horse is a partnership. Treat your partner with respect, and don’t push too hard. Training takes time.