One of the delights of equestrian ownership is being able to mount a horse and ride it around. The relationship between horse and rider is truly special, but it does not develop overnight. Not every horse is simply programmed to let you ride it around, and some may require extensive training before they are saddle-ready. Here are a few simple suggestions for breaking your horse if you’re looking for a means to bring your horse into riding shape.
The biggest difference between a horse that is constantly ridden and one that refuses to be ridden is usually simply a matter of familiarity. Naturally, a new horse will be unaccustomed to the thought of wearing a saddle and carrying a rider on its back. You should gradually introduce basic concepts to your horse rather than expecting them to immediately accept their new expectations and start galloping into the sunset. You also need to read through the best horse bridles reviews before owning one. When you adopt a horse, you’ll undoubtedly want to ride it and form a bond with it. An unbroken horse, on the other hand, will not allow you to saddle it, and mounting such an animal is out of the question.
In that scenario, you might be wondering how to break a horse. The good news is that with some expertise and the appropriate technique, you can do it on your own. Let’s find out what’s all the commotion about.
There Are Two Ways to Break a Horse
There are two methods for training a horse for riding: the hard way and the gentle way. One method works well, whereas the other generates more difficulties than it solves. Gentle breaking works best because it allows a horse to develop trust with its handler, resulting in a partnership that will last a lifetime.
The other option is to coerce the horse into submission. This is ineffective because all animals, including humans, will revolt when compelled to perform anything. That’s not to suggest it doesn’t function. It can be used to teach, but gentle breaking is far more successful. Horses can be compelled to obey, but they will get resentful and will act out more frequently as a result.
The horse must initially feel safe and relaxed in his surroundings and with the individuals who will be working with him. Our yard crew spends a lot of time grooming new horses in order to establish a bond and to get the horse acclimated to being touched all around. If the horse is shod, his hind shoes will be withdrawn as a precaution, and his teeth will be examined.
Having a personal relationship with your horse is essential for developing trust and eventually leading to training. Spend frequent time with your horse, beginning with simply being near it and grooming it. Grooming helps you connect with your horse and creates a link between the two of you. Work with your horse in the pasture, giving it time to develop trust in you. Communicate with your horse, and be a strong, calm leader.
The Significance of Ground Work
Before legging the rider up on the horse, the handler must maintain complete control of the animal’s feet at all times. Failure to do so may result in the horse developing lasting flight associations. Begin by teaching the horse to take light, submissive steps forward and backward in response to rein and whip commands. The horse learns these signals through a process known as negative reinforcement, which involves the relaxation of pressure. The horse must also be able to “park,” which means that it must not follow the handler’s foot when they step forward or move around the horse. This makes the horse’s surroundings more predictable; they learn to move only if cued by the rider’s original signal and to remain quiet at all other times. Teaching a head down cue is also beneficial because it has been demonstrated to lower the horse’s heart rate and produce tranquility when combined with the park.
Pressure And Release
Apply minimal pressure to the horse’s body to use negative reinforcement. You can tap it lightly with a lunge whip or another instrument of your choice. In each of these situations, your animal will try to avoid the pressure by moving in the opposite direction.
Use that equine instinct and keep pressure on the horse until he achieves what you want. In this stage, remember that timing is crucial. Slowly let go of the reins to reward any movement or effort the horse makes. When an animal has achieved your aim, remove the whip completely and reward the progress your horse has made. This strategy can also be used to train your animal to lunge, walk, or come when called.
Practice Safety Around Your Horse
Horses are powerful animals capable of wreaking havoc. Make sure you’re safe while teaching your horse. Acquaint yourself with a horse’s field of vision and stay in areas where your horse can see you the majority of the time. Horses are unable to see directly in front of or behind them. Keep a hold on your horse if you’re going over, behind, or in front of it so it can track you.
The ideal location to stand is on the horse’s side, inclined towards its head so that it can see and hear you. When you are out of your horse’s sight, talk to it. This informs your horse of your whereabouts. Instead of walking into the horse’s blind spots, begin by building confidence where it can see you. Only kneel or crouch by the horse if you are certain it is accustomed to the task at hand.
Because noise, contact, or other things can shock and frighten your horse, desensitization should be used to confront and resolve its fear. The greatest method is to present the horse with a source of fear while also rewarding him. With time, the horse will learn not to be afraid or to respond impulsively.
Progress Should Be Celebrated
To reward any improvement in the horse’s reactions and conduct is the ideal upgrade to negative reinforcement. When your foal learns something new, reward it with a treat, then give it your directions. The animal will grow more cooperative and obedient as a result of this. It is especially important in the early days of breaking your horse when it is still unsure whether it can trust you.
Aside from treats, thrill your horse by giving it more pasture time, socializing with other horses, petting it, and whispering a few soft words. Experiment with praising a horse for each new step toward breaking. Never forget to reward it after it accepts the bridle, learns to lunge, or wears a saddle for the first time.
Take It One Step At A Time
It takes time to break in a new horse. Before going to the next stage, you must first make each step a habit. When training your horse, each new notion you present should build on what you have already taught him. Remember that you want the horse to be certain of the correct reaction at all times so that it may respond confidently. Never, ever quit. Some steps may be easier for your horse than others. Training requires a significant time commitment. Finish each class on a high note. Even if it’s just a small step forward, such as the horse allowing you to reach the halter close to its face, always end on a positive note.
Before you put a saddle on a colt, it should know how to lead and go in different directions. In my experience with gentle breaking, I always have other horses present during the training to assist my colt in learning. Try leaning on your colt while brushing him to get him acclimated to having something on his back. Then, locate something lightweight to place on his back (an old coat works great). Make sure to put it on the already-trained horse first, then reward both horses with treats. When your colt is comfortable with the lightweight item, progress to the saddle blanket. This should be no problem for the horse now. If he protests, revert to the lightweight item for a bit.
You can start putting weight on his back if he accepts the saddle blanket. This is accomplished by grooming the horse while leaning over it on a stool. Make sure you can get away from the horse swiftly if required. Start wrapping items around the colt’s back and belly if he’s comfortable with a saddle blanket and your weight. This acquaints him with the concept of a cinch. This is the most time-consuming training, in my opinion. Brush the horse as you do this to calm him down.
When all of the following can be done comfortably, the saddle should be introduced. The best method to accomplish this is to expose the horse to other horses being saddled as frequently as possible. You should also ride other horses nearby to acclimate him to the notion.
Ready to Ride
Allow your horse to become accustomed to walking, lunging, and trotting with its equipment. Ride it for no more than ten minutes after successfully mounting it. Be patient and extend rides as time passes, without driving the animal to accomplish more than it is capable of. Any criticism or rejection indicates that you should take a step back and extend the training rather than pressuring it into obedience. Remember that breaking the horse is only the first step in its training. Always observe animal reactions, moods, and misbehaviors without being hurried.
Just one more thing! Horses are gregarious creatures who enjoy learning from one another. If your horse sees that other horses have no trouble wearing riders and obeying directions, it will learn to submit to your will more quickly.
It takes time, devotion, and patience to break a horse. A well-trained horse, on the other hand, is safe to ride. Always be nice to your animal and avoid using pain and punishment to attain your aims. Making a comprehensive plan before beginning is the greatest option, and rewarding your animal for any effort is the best option.