Horse Training Myths

In my 30 years of working with horses and people, I keep seeing the same problems – I call them Horse Training Myths - holding people back and getting in the way of their success with their horses.

So here you are – a form of horse training tips for free. Let them help you avoid frustration. Your horse training will go much easier and your expectations will be more realistic.

And yes, I know there is an occasional exception to these myths. Really, I’m very happy for those people. But 99% of the time, these myths are just that, myths.

There are quite a few of these, so I’ll put them up here a few at a time. Stop back again soon to see the next batch!


Myth: My horse tried to make me look bad in front of my friends. I know he did because he behaves fine when no one is around.

Reality: Chances are, when no one is around, you focus entirely on him and your cues are consistent. (If not, you need to get that much first.) But when someone is watching, you get a bit self conscious because of course you want them to see how good your horse is. Problem is, that takes some of your focus off your horse and puts it on the person watching you. So your cues are not as consistent and your horse can’t respond as consistently as he does when you focus 100% on him.

Solution: Block out EVERYTHING else except your horse. Focus totally on him and ride as if you are home alone with him. Soon he will respond just as well as he does when it’s just the two of you. Hard? Not with a little practice. Much of training is mental. Learning to control your thoughts will help your riding tremendously.


Myth: Riding an average horse is the same as riding a well broke “schoolmaster” lesson horse.

Reality: That schoolmaster has been giving lessons for so long he could teach them without the instructor if only he could talk. He has long since passed the stage of wanting his own way, bucking or refusing to listen to his rider/student.

If you have taken lessons on such a valuable creature – that’s wonderful. But if you buy your own horse who is less experienced or has a different personality, riding him may be very different. In most cases, just sitting correctly (assuming you’re not doing anything blatant such as accidentally kicking him or leaning forward in a fetal position) will NOT control your horse. Much of what worked great with that super well trained horse may not work with your new horse. You will need solid rein cues that you have taught him and practiced in order to stay safe and in control. That counts double if you take your horse out on the trail.

Solution: Learn some good rein cues. We teach these at all our clinics. Why rein cues? They are hardest for the horse to ignore. Be prepared to use rein cues to maintain control.

As you and your horse gain experience, you may be able to practice some of the things you learned on that great schoolmaster.


Myth: Any horse can do any job.

Reality: Like most people, most horses are more talented at certain jobs. And they have personal preferences. Not that you have to let the horse decide – he’d pick pasture grazing as a career – but he should at least enjoy what you want him to do. For example, some horses HATE trail riding, most like it.

Solution: If you can’t get the horse to like it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it with him. Either find something this horse can enjoy or find a horse who likes what you do.


Myth: My horse just came back from being trained and I like new changes in him. Now I can continue doing things the same way I always have but my horse will keep his changed behavior.

Reality: The horse will likely revert back to his old ways. When your horse has the same handling he had before, he will tend to have the same behavior he had before. The change STARTS with you. If you want something you never had before, you have to do something you never did before.

Solution: You change your ways first and the horse will follow. And he won’t revert back, as long as you stay consistent.

At our clinics, we show you how to make those changes and how to help your horse KEEP the behavior you want.

If you would like to attend a clinic, see our Schedule and Contact Us for more information.

Return from Horse Training Myths to Home