Training Ideas Archive

From Dodging Kicks to the First Ride: Working with Zelli

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a young mare named Zelli. Zelli has been one of the most interesting horses I’ve known. As a foal, she had several medical conditions that made her early handling quite an unpleasant experience. Zelli was already a sensitive and intelligent filly and she

How Different Environments Can Give You a “Different” Horse

If you have ever gone to a horse show or a big group trail ride, you know that the environment you take your horse in can make him behave very differently. At home he may be relaxed and attentive, but in a new place or with other horses, he may be anxious, spooky, or seem to

3 Simple Problem Solving Questions

I’m often asked questions about various horse and rider problems such as: My horse won’t go forward, I have to kick him just to keep him going… my horse rushes at the canter and won’t slow down… my horse won’t stand still at the mounting block… I love questions and I love helping other riders, but

Do That Again! Change Any Behavior by Understanding Reinforcement

As a horse trainer, I think about behavior all the time. Why are the horses I work with acting like this? How can I change it, how can I teach them or motivate them to do something different? The answers are often both simple and complex at the same time. A truth I have come

Working with Barn and Buddy Sour Horses

You try to go out for an enjoyable trail ride, but what you imagined as a peaceful ride over hill and dale turns into a battle of wills as your horse refuses to go forward, struggles to turn and head for home, and calls incessantly for his friends left at home. Or perhaps the horse

Targeting, Training Problems, & Timing: Equine Affaire ’16

Listen in to a segment of the demonstration by Angelo Telatin and I on how the basics of learning theory can be applied to work through behavior problems. We talk about how the principles of positive reinforcement, focusing on what you want, and how poor timing can actually cause many “bad” behaviors. During the talk,

Using Food to Train Your Horse

Using food in training is still a controversial topic in many horse training arenas. Will giving treats cause my horse to become mouthy or pushy? How do I start using food as a learning tool? What kind of treats should I use? Food is a powerful tool in training. We can use it to help

How to Stop Bad Behavior

Horses can do many things that are annoying, frustrating, or downright dangerous. Take Finn, the young horse who likes to nip and bite when he gets bored, or Winter, the pony who would rather buck than trot with a rider. What about Sydney, the Thoroughbred gelding who slams on the brakes at every other jump,

Why “Being the Boss” of the Horse Isn’t Necessary

Many riders have been told that the only way to be successful with horses, to be able to teach and train them, is through first “being the boss”. It is often taught that aggression is a necessary part of working with horses because of their social structure and need for a clear “pecking order.” I

When Do You Need a Bigger Bit?

The title to this post is a bit misleading as the answer to most problems where people begin considering a “bigger bit” is not to change the horse’s mouthpiece but instead to reconsider the horse’s training. Problems like head tossing, pulling, rooting, or rushing may initially seem as though they could be fixed by simply