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professional horse
horse trainer
riding a horse
brokenness
funny part
bewilderment
amazing things
body language
willingness
potatoes
horses
reflection
How To Tame A Horse - An Overview
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How To Tame A Horse - An Overview

Reading this article will not make you a horse trainer. It will not make you an expert in understanding the body language of a horse. The question, "How to tame a horse" will not be answered in this one article. But this article will - it is hoped - open the door to beginning to recognize what is required to work successfully with horses.

The funny part about horses - or, more aptly put, the honest part about horses - is that you are training them whether you are a professional horse trainer or not, and whether you know it or not. So the level of willingness and brokenness of your horse is a direct reflection on you.

Horses have remained alive as a species due in large part to their ability to read a situation, their surroundings, and to react fast. So by the time many of us are wondering in bewilderment why our horse has just done what it has done, the horse has long before given us many signs we simply missed.

Body language is key and is perhaps one of the more difficult things to get across to novice horse trainers, like myself. I have seen videos of myself, for example, riding a horse. At the time I thought I was doing quite well in the saddle. Then I saw my image bouncing atop the horse's back like a sack of potatoes. No wonder the horse wasn't moving out well. The poor thing had to keep me balanced as well as her.

I've done the same thing when doing ground work. When first learning how to longe a horse I'd get exasperated when my horse stopped and turned into me when I didn't ask for it. Well I did, in fact, ask for it. I just wasn't at all aware of the position of my body in front of the horse's drive line. But the horse knew right away. That's one of the beautiful and amazing things about horses. Generally they really do want to do what we ask of them and will make every effort to do so.

Trainers - most of them, and all of the great ones - know how to read a horse. They know the signs and messages a horse gives. They in return also know how best to communicate to the horse. For anyone willing to learn more about how to train horse people and how to train horses I highly recommend watching the training methods of many different trainers; from the famous to those jewels in your neck of the woods.

Some people seem to have a natural knack for horses while others learn it over time. Get your hands on some of the training materials of trainers you want to know more about. Robert M. Miller D.V.M.'s and Rick Lamb's "The Revolution in Horsemanship and What It Means to Mankind" is a book I highly recommend. It is a great place to start - or further - your knowledge in horses and horsemanship. It lists many of the horse training masters.

There is a documentary by Sundance opening June 17, 2011 on one of the greatest horse trainers out there, in my humble opinion, Buck Brannaman. It's entitled, "Buck." Don't miss it. This man is truly incredible.

So the next time you wander out to the barn or pasture take note of your body language and the language of your horses. I can spend most the day just watching my horses. Not only are they beautiful to watch but the way they communicate with each other is so interesting. I've gained a lot of insight into my horses' behavior just by watching. When I am training my horse, those bits of information I've gained from watching them has come in handy. My experience doing ground work and under-saddle work has greatly improved my own body language and my awareness of it.

As always, happy trails.


Street Talk

You are correct. And I'll just add that it is about being able to see the small things. Why some of the great trainers seem to have impeccable patience with horses isn't because they do, it's because they see the little things that others miss. It's like you are saying, they have learned to read the horse. And that just comes with experience. For example, if you are teaching the horse to back up, you would want to reward the horse when they take a step back. But maybe they don't, maybe you can reward the horse when they just shift their foot back an inch, or maybe then just shift their weight back, or maybe just a change in their eye and you can tell that they are thinking about backing up. It is all about rewarding the slightest try and building from there.

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  about 5 years ago
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