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Beginning Horse Training

Beginning Horse Training:

The concept of really training a horse can be scary if you are new to riding horses. Horses are powerful, independent, and may appear to be highly unpredictable. You can train your horse to overcome a variety of problems in a way that is secure for both you and the horse, though, provided you are prepared to spend the time learning about how horses think and behave. One word of caution: some behavioral difficulties require expertise and talent to resolve. The only way to gain this experience is to start slowly, work through issues one at a time, and always be aware of your horse and what he is trying to tell you. 

Starting with a video:


Observing horses in the field and as others train them is the first step if you are new to horse training. Learn to interpret the horse's body language. For example, what does it imply when the horse raises his head and tucks his ears? The key to successful horse training and, more crucially, personal safety, is learning to read and understand the horse's body language. Knowing when the horse needs to be reminded to pay attention or when it is being pushed too hard and beginning to get defensive by threatening to kick or bite is crucial.

Is the horse fearful or is he hostile and defiant? I can't stress this enough. The secret to training and to avoiding injury during training is reading the horse. Reading a horse cannot be learned by looking at images or books; you must see real horses in action and be conscious of their actions and feelings. Get inside the horse's head if you want to succeed. It will take a lifetime to master this skill, but if you start today, you could be amazed at how quickly you pick things up.

Training Fundamentals:


There are two ways to train, and we as humans as well as horses can use any method. Positive reinforcement can be used during training to motivate the horse toward a goal. Alternately, you can train your horse through negative reinforcement to make it try to avoid something. The majority of effective horse training combines the two. Positive reinforcement can be used with food, but it can also be utilized with relaxation, comfort, and safety for horses. The training will be simpler and more effective if you have a bond and a connection with the horse you are working with. 

Relationships can be as simple as the horse trusting you because of your reliable behavior and ability to pass as a friend rather than a threat.

Similar to dogs and even people, horses can learn to react to stimuli. For instance, the majority of riders squeeze the horse's lower legs when they want it to move forward. This is a cue, and the trained horse will move forward in response. A cue can take many different forms, including physical pressure from our hand or foot, verbal cues, and non-physical cues like our gaze and body language. As long as the cue is consistent, it actually doesn't matter what it is. Most horsemen apply pressure of some type, whether it is physical or psychological. 

You give the cue, and the horse starts to move to find the best solution to release the pressure. When he comes up with the correct response, we let off on the pressure and reward him with pats, praise, or, if necessary, food. For instance, we hit the horse's hindquarters with a stick and point the lead line and the horse's nose in the direction of the trailer as two signs for him to move forward. He might shift backward or sideways, but eventually, he will move ahead. We instantly ease the pressure and give him praise because this is the response we were hoping for. Positive reinforcement, which we covered in the paragraph before, is what is meant by praise. 

After the horse understands a challenging training concept, you should give him a brief rest period to help cement the habit. 

When the horse is only driven to behave a certain way to avoid suffering, it is the kind of training you want to spot and avoid. He might move quickly because he knows if he doesn't, he'll get spurs in his side or a whip. Even though it can be hard to tell, horses that have only been trained via pain may behave well, but they lack personality, interest, and affection. Just as the family dog leaps to his feet when the leash is yanked out, you want your horse to appreciate training. 

Behaviors that Shape:


Not everything will go according to plan the first time. It takes time to train a horse to behave in a certain manner or to carry out a particular movement, and the action must be tailored until it is carried out exactly how you want it to. By way of illustration, while teaching a horse to do a flying lead change, the rider frequently begins by asking the animal to execute a straightforward lead change with perhaps 10 steps of trotting. Initial encouragement is given, and as the trainer becomes more exact and requests fewer and fewer trot steps over time, the horse eventually just does a flying change without the additional steps.

Of course, the horse needs to have a few more abilities to execute this flying shift, but the essential idea is the same—the trainer molds the movement to suit his preferences. Correcting a horse who is pushy on the ground is another illustration. Asking the horse to shift his shoulders aside is the first step. Initially, this will take the form of the trainer's hand pushing on the shoulder and applying physical pressure to the lead rope. The horse receives praise when he shifts his shoulders away from the trainer. The trainer will ask the horse to change from only applying pressure with the lead rope after a few repetitions. Once more, if the horse reacts appropriately, he will receive a prize. 

Finally, the trainer will instruct the horse to move just by exerting pressure on their bodies. When the pressure is consistently increased, the horse eventually learns what behavior is anticipated, and how to perform it more accurately, and so learns effectively and without unnecessary stress. If the horse is asked to move away with body language for the first time, he is unlikely to respond.

Is your horse mentally prepared for training?


The horse must be mentally sound for training to be successful. The training won't be particularly effective if he is terrified or upset. When the horse is relaxed, content, and curious, training goes best. 

The horse moves to find the best way to relieve the pressure as soon as you provide the command. When he provides the right answer, we release the pressure and give him pats, compliments, or, if required, food as a reward. For instance, as two signals for the horse to advance, we smack him in the hindquarters with a stick and point the lead line and the horse's nose in the direction of the trailer. He might travel sideways or backward, but he will finally advance. Because this is the response we were looking for, we immediately release the pressure and compliment him. The praise refers to positive reinforcement, which was discussed in the previous paragraph.

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