Sample Our Newsletter From "Train Your Horse To Travel Straight," Issue 27, part 1 of our FREE monthly newsletter
Re: how to break a horse
Training your horse to walk, trot or lope in a straight line is easy. Here's how to do it.
A proviso: It must be stipulated that your success with the following has everything to do with whether you and your horse are ready for the material. This is rather simple green horse stuff, sure - but like everything learned, there are prerequisites: You need a horse that will move his hips when you ask and a horse that's soft from chin to withers. More importantly, you need to have a fundamental understanding of how to get these things if your horse is a bit rusty or "not in the mood." If you need a brush up course on these things, refer to Horsemanship101.com/Articles. For the softening, look specifically for two articles called "Steer the Tail" and "Three-Step Stop." Also look for articles addressing the use of your reins (eg: "Reins, 5 Tips to Improve Your Use" and "How to Pick Up the Reins Like a Pro"). Regarding the hips, look for "Hip Shoulder Shoulder."
In the world of horse training, there are a few tricks we humans can quickly and easily teach our horses: How to bang on the stall door at feeding time; how to run away at the sight of an advancing halter; how to dance when they see a saddle, and so on. But then, there's the simple stuff like, y'know, just walking in a darned straight line that they never seem to "get." I mean, horse, are you trying to make me nuts? How simple can this be? And why can't you carry the same speed for even ten minutes? You go two miles per hour walking away from the barn, point two mph up the hill, nine down the hill and ninety-seven pointed toward the barn. And is it really so hard to figure out that when I pick up the left rein it means go left?
How many of us have taken this a step further and trained our equine friends to think "out of the box"? Horses are hip to Einstein's description of acting crazy: Repeating the same thing that doesn't work, hoping for a different outcome. Most humans ignore this principle and blindly repeat their horse-training ways day after day, approaching things the same old way, wondering why they see no improvement. We do that while our horses are constantly adapting, constantly changing their routines, changing their reactions to our actions. If pinning ears doesn't get you to back off from saddling today, perhaps a grouchy look will do the trick tomorrow. Or dancing around or laying down or swishing a tail or screeching to a pal or kicking. Whether the horses have figured this out for themselves or whether we've actually taught the poor habits may be a matter of debate - but one fact is certainly true: The smartest horses in the world all live at riding schools, riding schools who specialize in beginners. If you need proof, try to saddle, pick the hooves of, or blanket a twenty-year veteran of novice riders. Those suckers will out-maneuver you faster than Jackie Chan on a caffeine high. They know every trick in the book, trust me.
And that's what really drives us crazy, isn't it? How they seem to use their brains not for good but for evil. The fact that my horses know that a bucket in my hand at 6pm means "run to me, I've got food," while that same bucket at 2pm means "Run for the hills, girls, it's time for your bath"-? They're smart enough to learn "the hard stuff," but standing still for mounting or backing up evenly is like advanced calculus.
This daily grind of taking two training steps backward for every three steps forward taught will go on forever and happens even to the best of us. Steel yourself to it. Me, for instance, the guy with the eighty-trillion people on his mailing list, the big certified trainer who you turn to for advice must admit that, yes, my horses are not perfect. Indeed, there are days when I feel they are truly the devil's spawn. Case in point, every one of them was taught to come to me - yet after being turned out to broodmare pasture with buddies to veg and gestate, they seem to have gotten rusty on a few of the house rules. "Stand and let me halter you" is occasionally replaced with "Stand until I lift the halter, then run to the other side of this thirty acre field." It's just a fact that successful horse training calls for us to accept these slips as normal, and act accordingly. Me, I have a zero tolerance policy and found myself round penning a mare that "should know better" by moonlight just last night. She won't run away at the sight of the halter again (for awhile) but I'm willing to bet she's discussing alternative pranks with her buddies even as I type this.
They slip in their training - and seem to ignore our seemingly obvious requests - because we are trainers of animals that would really rather not carry our fat butts and fifty-pound saddles around. They want to be standing with buddies, munching grass. That's it. That's the gameplan for an entire life. Take them from that comfort zone "out for a ride," or compound the issue by asking them to lope a perfect circle or walk a straight line - things that certainly don't make sense to any sensible horse - and they balk. And if they can't dissuade you today, they will, in their own passive aggressive way, resist you every step of the way tomorrow. Need proof? Think back to John Lyons and his "driving analogy." Basically it's this: Did you speed today as you drove, even by one mile over the limit? Why? You know the rules, you can read the signs. The horse is the same way; if the cop isn't writing you a ticket, you're pushing the boundaries. You and the horse are both, as they say, free spirits.
With all this being said then, why would our horses ever go the extra mile to work with us and figure out some bizarre thing we'd like to do like travel at exactly four miles per hour, turn now and not later or jump a fence and then come right back again?
Real Do-It-Yourself Horse Training in 33 Comprehensive Steps: The ultimate guide to the "complete" riding horse - whether a performance, working, or "just for fun" prospect. Begin at Lesson Number 33 and count your way down through the basic exercises - the "primary education" - every horse needs. (From never-ridden to flying lead changes)
Real Do-It-Yourself Horse Training in 33 Comprehensive Steps
With a Foreword by Dr. Robert M. Miller, Father of Imprint Training
It's time to get real-that is, real, do-it-yourself horse training. Professional trainer Sean Patrick has created the ultimate guide to the "complete" riding horse-whether a performance, working, or "just for fun" prospect. Quite simply, you begin at Lesson Number 33 and count your way down through the basic exercises-the "primary education" every horse needs. And when you get to Lesson 1, you've done it; you've prepared your horse for advanced work in any number of equestrian disciplines. You can't get lost along the way. There's no room for confusion. Sean clarifies the point and explains the gist of every step. The happy result? He trains you to be a trainer.
Whether your horse is a foal or five, guilelessly green or imperfectly veteran, he will benefit from the Countdown-;a true "foundation" program, serving to prepare him for the endless variety of activities and "jobs" horses perform today. From indispensable handling, "sacking-out," and tying exercises, to how you, the rider, can control the different parts of the horse's body from the ground and the saddle; from mounting on both the left and the right to performing flawless flying lead changes, you'll be amazed at how effective and efficient this program is.
"Sean Patrick has written a remarkably insightful book. It is well organized, with incredibly easy-to-follow steps that should lead to a very well-started horse that can excel in any riding event. Where was this book 25 years ago, when many of us were first struggling to start our horses with more 'thoughtful' methods?"
-Sandy Collier, world champion trainer of reined cow horses and author of Reining Essentials: How to Excel in Western's Hottest Sport
"In The Countdown to Broke, Sean Patrick offers an easy-to-follow training course with just the right amount of theory tucked in. It's a thoughtful and well-crafted addition to natural horsemanship literature. You're going to like this guy!"
-Rick Lamb, host of TV and radio's "The Horse Show," and author of The Revolution in Horsemanship (with Dr. Robert M. Miller) and Human to Horseman
"The Modern Horseman's Countdown to Broke is a true masterpiece in the world of horse training. All horses are different in age, experience, temperament, and abilities, and Sean has done a wonderful job in giving horse owners the knowledge base to achieve the results they need by understanding the sequence of steps that will work for each individual horse, without gimmicks. After Sean explains it, it just makes sense! An exceptional book!"
-Susan Gibson, Publisher, Trail Blazer Magazine
"I have never seen a book this meticulous in providing step-by-step instruction. If you follow the Countdown as it is laid out, and do exactly as Sean recommends, you cannot mess this up-you are going to end up with a sane, well-trained horse!"
- Dr. Robert M. Miller, Father of Imprint Training and author of Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal; A Revolution in Horsemanship; and Natural Horsemanship Explained
SEAN PATRICK began his thoughtful examination of horses and horsemanship as a high-country guide in the west Chilcotin Region of British Columbia, Canada. There he guided international clientele into the rugged mountains of the Pacific Coastal Range for weeklong pack excursions, led fly anglers on the Chilko River and Lake, and escorted big game hunters into the alpine on horseback. Sean completed his degree at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, as well as his Horseshoeing Certificate from Oklahoma Horseshoeing School in Purcell. He furthered his studies by training with John Lyons in Parachute, Colorado, where he met his wife, Alisha. Sean now runs a horse training business focusing on performance training, colt starting, and horsemanship instruction, and is a Senior Contributor for Trail Blazer Magazine. He lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
256 pp | 8 1/2 x 11 | 288 color photos | paperback
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