How to Train a Horse

Complete Guide to Training Basics for Beginners

Man training a horse on reins

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Horse training can be fun, but it also can be quite a challenge. For the beginner, it's probably best to leave starting young horses to more experienced trainers. Youngsters are too unpredictable and knowledge, timing, and skill are required for success. But really, we train our horses—even extensively trained ones, each time we interact with them. When you teach your horse something new, it means you've learned something as well and that is very rewarding. Learn what your horse should know and what you'll need to know to train your horse. Here are fun, easy, and safe training ideas for first-time horse owners.

  • 01 of 05

    What You Need to Know Before You Begin

    Veterinarian leading a stallion

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    Before you begin horse training, there are a few things you need to know in order to be effective and  safe with your horse. There are a few things you need to know before beginning horse training, like how to approach training, what doesn't work and how to know when what you are doing is working.

    And while it isn't necessary to have a round pen to train a horse, it is good to work in an enclosed space such as a round pen, ring, arena or small paddock.

  • 02 of 05

    What Your Horse Needs to Know

    Girl handling horse hooves

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    Even if you don't ride or drive it, there are essential horse manners every horse must have. One thing every horse should know is how to safely load onto a trailer, just in case there is an emergency.

  • 03 of 05

    Safe Things You Can Teach a Horse

    horse giving bearded man kiss

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    It's easy and fun to teach your horse to neck rein. Whether you ride English or western, it's handy to have a horse that can both direct rein and neck rein. It's also fun to teach your horse unique tricks, and even non-horse people really enjoy watching horses perform them. Two simple tricks are giving hugs and kisses.

    Note: If your horse tends to be a bit 'mouthy' and nips, teaching a horse to give a kiss upon the cheek might not be safe, so you'll find an alternative that keeps the kiss away from the handler's face.

  • 04 of 05

    Training Ages and Stages

    White mare and two foals with dark coats in a field

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    Horse owners often wonder what they can do with their horses at any given age. What can a foal do, and can you teach an old horse new tricks? There are many frequently asked questions about horses that can help you decide what's appropriate at what age.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Common Training and Behavior Problems

    Cowboy riding bucking horse

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    Behavior problems can stem from a number of different reasons. For instance, there's no point in putting a tie down or martingale on a horse to solve something like head tossing, when its mouth hurts because its teeth are too long and sharp.

    The important thing when tackling any problem is to understand why the problem exists in the first place. Each of these problems is solvable with fair and consistent handling. Patience is key. And remember, you can work with your training coach for safety.

What You Shouldn't Train Your Horse

When your horse is misbehaving and you're a beginner rider, it is wise to get advice from an experienced rider or a trainer. Some behaviors like rearing, bucking and balking can be dangerous if you don't know how to deal with them. There are some things beginners just shouldn't attempt, at least not alone.