Compiled by Riz Ilyas, AKA The Turban Cowbo
1. Before beginning make sure you have the horse's attention and that he is relaxed.
2. Be Consistent and Insistent - Always be consistent in your actions, requests and expectations. Do not confuse your horse. Horses feel more secure when clear boundaries are in place. They want to have someone to count on. In a herd the lower ranks don’t worry about anything. It’s the Leader's job to keep them safe. By letting him do something one day and then not the next you are not being kind or nice. No different than if your boss doesn’t mind you having personal calls one day, and then chews your butt the next day for it. Ever dated a person who was bi-polar?
3. Have a game plan. Visualize what your goal for the lesson is before you begin. Try to project this goal to your horse during the lesson. Yeah...it sounds crazy but it works.
4. Never ask for something your horse is not physically, mentally or emotionally ready to do and damn sure don’t ask him to do anything you're not physically, mentally or emotionally ready to do!
5. Prepare your horse for success by preventing evasions. Teach him right, right from the start.Using enclosed areas or natural barriers to reduce possible evasions when training. As in the corner of a school for introducing halt or turns.Don’t put him in situations he is not ready for. Remember you're supposed to be the brains of the outfit, don’t confirm your horse's (and probably the rest of the World's) suspicions!
6. Baby Steps - Proceed from the easy to the difficult. Horse training is communicating to the horse in way they will understand…a number of small things and then combining them to accomplish what seems difficult.
7. Communicate clearly - If you scream in Chinese to a person from Mexico, no matter how loud you say it he won't understand. Establish a cue to let the horse know he has done what you requested and you are pleased. Look for signs of understanding/relaxation. Lowering of head, chewing, licking lips, etc...
8. Yin and Yang - Always teach the opposite to each new movement or lesson, and remember that you must always teach the movement to both sides of a horse's brain. Go and whoa,Turn right, turn left, Lift leg put leg down, etc...
9. Reward even the smallest effort lavishly, and always end lessons on a good note. After you do ask for something difficult or new, ask for something easy. Even better when teaching something new is to end the lesson, as soon as the proper response is given, even if it's just 30 seconds into the lesson. Don’t drill them to boredom, especially in the beginning.This does not mean you have to end the session, just that particular lesson.
10. Variety! Repetition is wonderful in training horses and should be employed. With repetition you can relax your horse, but don’t bore him to death either. Go for a nice hack or ride in a different direction. Ride in a different area or patterns.
11. Do not confuse resistance with disobedience. Never assume your horse has learned something you haven’t taught him. If you punish/reprimand your horse for something you have not explained, you are guilty of abuse.
12. Don't ask for something you can't make them do, if you have to, and do not start something you do not have the time or ability to finish, i.e., crossing water, loading, bathing, whatever. Do not say come here if you're not prepared to stay as long as it takes to make them come here. Like that kid in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart raising hell - If his parents give in and let him have the toy this time it's always in his mind that he can get his way again.
13. Throw your clock and calendar in the trash. There is no set time frame to teach anything to a horse. He doesn’t know when Friday is or when 90 days are up, nor does he care. The proper answer to any question relating to how long it takes to teach a horse anything is…."It depends on the horse."
14. What makes horses easy to train is their memory; it is also what can make them difficult to train.
15. Continuously expand your knowledge. Educate yourself and keep an open mind. Each method/discipline has good points that you can take from. You can learn something from anyone or any method, even if it's simply what not to do.
16. Last but not least...Do not be afraid to reprimand your horse if he knows what is expected, and rise to the level of his intolerance or willful disobedience. However, never, never, never under any circumstances do it in anger or with malice. Always reprimand dispassionately. Horses have an amazing sense of justice. The reprimand must fit the offense. Too much or done in anger and they will resent you. Remember the people who love their kids the most are not the ones who always reprimand them or even the ones who never reprimand them. It's the ones that reprimand them when they need it who truly love them.