Choose a Horse Training Philosophy

Oct 20, 2008Updated 8 months ago

You probably feel overwhelmed when you search the Internet for horse training tips and you probably don't know who to believe as you sift through equestrian magazine articles. It seems like everyone is contradicting everybody else, and the novice horse trainer wonders if he should give up entirely.

What is a Horse Training Philosophy?

A horse training philosophy is simply a set of standards by which you train your horse. It could be the system advertised by Marty Roberts or Stacy Westfall, or maybe it's a tradition handed down from horseman to horseman in your family. In most cases, it consists of a list of horse training tips that fit within a particular view of equestrian sports. Your horse training philosophy doesn't have to have a name or a gimmick; really, all you need is to be consistent.

Consistency in horse training is infinitely more important ant than philosophy. After all, your horse doesn't know whether you prefer Frank Bell over Ed Dabney; he just knows when you aren't consistent with your commands and expectations.

What Does a Horse Training Philosophy Entail?

Your horse training philosophy will include controversial matters, such as whether you believe artificial aids are necessary, but it will mostly encompass your day-to-day activities.

  • How often do you work with your horse?
  • What expectations do you set each day?
  • How do you form your goals?
  • What equipment do you use on your horse?
  • Which discipline are you pursuing?
These are the questions that matter, and you should answer them before you ever start your horse training endeavor. Otherwise, you will find yourself back-tracking and second-guessing your methods constantly, which is beneficial neither to you nor your horse.

Is a Horse Training Method Important?

Some horse trainers swear by the methods of one famous horseman or another, but in the end, how you interact with your horse is most important. You have to realize that the equestrian celebrities you see on TV talk shows and on glossy magazine covers are often more about the publicity than the work they do with horses.

In other words, you should take the horse training method of someone else with a grain of salt. The Parelli system works wonderfully with some trainers, but fails miserably with others. The same goes for Sally Swift's Centered Riding and Frank Bell's Gentle Solution Revolution.

A better idea is to take what you can from numerous successful trainers, then incorporate those tidbits into your own horse training philosophy. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be giving seminars and speaking to groups of 5,000 people in the Reliant Arena.

Once you've made a decision about your horse training philosophy, however, write it down so you don't forget it. The decision might be as simple as a preference for free lunging over using a lunge line, but you'll want to maintain consistency in your horse training to achieve the best results.