Horse Training For Beginners

Thank you so much for reading. I’ll be covering the fundamentals of ground work, which is crucial and what you need to have a very firm grasp of before you ever actually get on an animal.


Before we can get into that we need to be on the same page regarding terminology and understanding. At the end of this lesson you’ll know the meaning of words like desensitization, impulsion, and flexion. By now you’ve probably gathered the techniques – I’m teaching you have been termed “natural horsemanship.” Natural horsemanship is not something I invented in fact it’s so old that is actually becoming new and hip again. To put it in simplistic terms natural horsemanship is attained naturally through direct communication, understanding and psychology. Where some normal horse training methods are sometimes obtained through mechanics like intimidation, fear etc. So as far as I’m concerned the horse is one of mother nature’s finest animals even if they can be nothing, but attitude on four feet sometimes. It only makes sense that they would provide a superior methodology to communicating with your equine. If you’ve done your homework and studied your horse in his environment you’ll have a better grasp of what you as a trainer must do to communicate correctly with your equine. Horses are extremely quick to form a relationship of respect with humans to treat them in this fashion. The results can be extremely remarkable. Firm but fair is a wonderful mantra to live by so please be careful not to confuse dictatorship with partnership when training your equine. Leadership comes in all different flavors and you want to be sure that you have one that is just right for both you and your horse. In each partnership there are expectations as to how each member will behave and there is an understanding or a code of ethics between the two people or in this case the horse involved in the partnership. Your job is to make the horse want what you want so you can both enjoy mutually symbiotic and professional relationship. All professionals practicing natural horsemanship will agree that teaching through pain and fear does not result in the type of relationship that benefits either you or the horse. Timing is everything and you as the handler need to be very aware of this. Base your techniques on the principles of reinforcement rather than physical force. Emphasize the use of ground work to establish boundaries and set up proper and clear communication with the horse.

We’re going to focus on complete communication with the equine through groundwork before we ever actually get on the animal. In this lesson we’re going to cover everything that you need to know in order to be proficient and successful once you get in the round pen. Now, excellence with horses and a strong lifelong partnership is what we’re all striving for with our horse. There are a few keys to making this happen and we’ll be covering all of them. I’d just like to briefly discuss each one of the points as follows. The keys are:

1) Attitude: you have to have a natural attitude. You want to be extremely positive and you want to be in tune with your horse at all times. People who are positive and progressive and who believe in the natural point of view of the horse will find success in their horse training.

2) Knowledge is the second key. That’s why you’re reading. You have to have knowledge of how your horse works, how your horse thinks. Most people think just like people and that’s okay unless you’re in the round pen with your horse and that’s a whole different ballgame.

3) Tools – you have to have tools that work and you have to have them work naturally with the horse. You can’t tell a natural horseman to do something with tools that he doesn’t utilize. You can always tell a natural horseman by the tools that he uses and you can also tell him by the tools that he does not use.

4) Technique. This simply refers to mastering your tools and practicing them as much as you can. This in turn forms your natural technique, which is key to success.

5) Time. Take all the time it takes that’s what I like to say. Take the time to do it right or don’t do it at all.

6) Imagination is also key to success. You have to have an imagination to be successful. You have a right to exercise it.

Qualities and Traits

Now these are the ingredients that will insure your success with your equine. For starters I’d like to cover 10 qualities that every horse person and his horse should possess. There are many types of people who interact with equines, but not all of them are equal. Equestrians have a good working knowledge of the horse and they are good riders, but neither of these necessarily equates to a horseman. My definition is as follows. A horseman is someone who is a good rider, as well, as a horse lover. He or she is knowledgeable as any equestrian and can share that knowledge with the horse that he rides. Now that’s what I believe a true horse person is so how do we accomplish this well there are traits that you and your horse as a team should possess that will help you to get there. The first half of a trait is heart and desire. Now this is a trait that both the horse and the human need to possess. We’ve all heard glory stories about a horse that runs faster and jumps higher out of heart and desire, but as the rider we need to be able to communicate to the horse that he needs to do what we want them to do and we need to have him love his humans. A true horseman will do everything he can to pass on this to his horse.

Second Chance Luncheon Scheduled for April 2018

Second Chance Luncheon

As many of you know, Brad Szczecinski from recently announced the Second Chance Luncheon for 2018.  Brad has been a supporter of the Second Chance Luncheon for many years, and has lead advocacy for organ transplant donors.

At the event, guests can expect to listen to a living organ donor, Laurie Dickinson Lee, speak about her experience with being a donor.  In addition, the Director of Microsurgery Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Siemionow will also speak about her experience with organ transplants.

This will be an event not to be missed!  If you have every been curious about how the organ transplant process works, you will want to be in attendance.  This event is held once a year, and you can get your tickets now on Eventbrite!

This event is will also include, live music and great networking opportunities for all involved!  Have you ever considered learning more about organ transplants?  If so, we hope to see you at the event!

Brad Szczecinski has been a wonderful supported for Healthy Horse N Rider for many years, and we want to honor him with this blog post.  A lot of people don’t know of all the work that goes into ensuring that this blog remains up-to-date and fresh with new content so we can’t thank him enough for all of his efforts in bringing our ideas at the ranch come to life!

If you know of a friend of Healthy Horse ‘N Rider whom might enjoy a shout out for their next event, please let us know!  We enjoy using our platform to inform readers of all the comings and goings either in or out of the stable!

Organ donors have a special place in our heart.  As some of you know, Meredith required a kidney transplant a couple years ago.  Now that she has fully recovered, we want to spread the joy and love for all the donors.  Life is too short, and we are so grateful that there are wonderful people in this world that can sacrifice a part of their own bodies for the good of humanity.

Horse Shoes: Why do horses need shoes?

I’m often asked the question: why do horses have to wear shoes? Well the short answer is they don’t. Many horses are better off not having shoes on, but let me start at the beginning. Horses by nature are a grazing animal. They herd and roam together in wide open spaces grazing at leisure all day and all night. Now that’s good for their system eating a little bit all the time that’s good for their digestive system and that’s why sometimes we have problems with horses because now we put them it installs and feed them him twice today with grain and that’s not what they’re used to. Well shoeing came about because we took horses out of their natural environment and we put them in stalls we turned them into, initially, either horses that were plowing fields or going into battle. Both of which wore their feet down more than grazing leisurely like they were raised or like they were born to do.

So we design shoes to put on the bottom of their hooves so that those feet would not be worn down to the point that it would hurt them you know the same way your fingernails would get if they were worn down to the quick. They can hurt and it’s the same way with horses so the main reason horses wear shoes is to protect their foot.

Now like I said there are plenty of times horses don’t need shoes and let me give you an example of that. If you’ve got a pasture of brood mares or a group of phillies that are growing up together it’s better for them not to have shoes on. You want their hooves to be able to expand you don’t want them to have contracted heels. You want their foot to be a natural state as long as they are in a natural state and that is in the pasture almost all of the time. Also the reason you don’t want pasture horses generally to have on shoes is because by nature they’re going to seek a pecking order that’s going to entail a little violence here and there. Striking, kicking, and biting. Well if the horse has on shoes and strikes or kicks another horse they can cause a lot of damage to that other horse if they have on shoes. If they don’t have on shoes it’s kind of normal, the horses are kind of used to that kind of fighting, but with shoes on it can really cause a lot of damage so try not to put shoes on horses that are out in the pasture together, it’s not a good idea.

Well now not only are horseshoes used to protect horses feet other times they are used to keep horses sound. Horses that have foot problems can use shoes to help alleviate pain and keep them in a healthy condition so that they can continue to be ridden and enjoyed. So that’s all I have to say about shoeing right now. I hope you learned a little bit and if you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about horses shoot me a line and I’ve love to hear from you.

Checking The Health Of A Senior Horse

I want to talk about how I perform physical exams on senior horses to check their overall health and condition. So one of the things I start with is checking their eyes. Just like an elderly person you can get cataracts and vision issues. I just evaluate that there’s nothing chronic going on in his eyes. I shine a light in them and make sure he has a good reflex to his eyes that way when you are riding him that you don’t have a spooky horse or a situation where a shadow or something might cause an accident where he doesn’t know quite what it is. So evaluate the horse’s vision is the first step.

Next thing I do is to listen to is the horse’s heart and lungs. I want to make sure that he’s not having any kind of heart murmurs or elevated heart rate. I listen to his lungs to make sure there’s no harshness or fibrosis in the lungs where he has some sort of exercise intolerance or they just can’t get out their breath after they’ve been worked. So I evaluate that and listen to their heart and lungs and make sure those systems are clean.

I give them a general feel of his whole body. You might pick up a tumor or a mass or lump that’s somewhere on his body that you just don’t touch often, especially when they get their long hair coat for the winter. I just kind of run my hands over their body make sure I’m not dealing with any kind of stiffness or lumps or bumps, especially around their tail.

Next I look at the feet of an older horse. I’m looking for solidness. I’m always worried about them having secondary problems in the feet due to metabolic issues or any realistically secondary disease process out there. A lot of times with older horses that is the reason I see them in the first place is for a sore foot. A lot of times the sore foot is due to other issues, specifically metabolic disease or Cushing’s in an older horse. This can be seen where it skin around his mane starts to get meaty. I have seen some where the meat around their mane gets so heavy that they start to flop over. They begin to get some fat pads and a little bit of a belly but any time a client were to call me and say I’ve got a foot sore elderly horse. Those are some signs that maybe you should start pulling some blood work looking into some other disease processes that might be causing this.

I’ll have clients call me with elderly horses typically they’ll either have an overweight issue, sore foot issue, or in the opposite case they’ll have a really skinny horse where I will start looking at the dental exam and see if I have any kind of issues there. A proper dental exam once a year is going to be necessary for older horses as well. I’m going to use a speculum that opens up their mouth to where I can look at all of their molars and premolars to make sure that they are able to grind grass and hay and forage properly.

Next is just a general physical exam. I’m going watch a horse walk make sure that he’s moving easy and freely and doesn’t have any joints that are creaking or cracking. Maybe do some flexing exams. Make sure they don’t’ have and bumps or bruises that could be causing any kind of problem just as if you were younger horse. Age is not a disease I don’t treat it as if it is a process. I have horses that are 25 and sound as can be. Still competing just as hard as horses that are in their younger years.

So with an older horse just like a younger horse, if they’re sound I definitely recommend that they stayed in activity. It doesn’t have to be jumping or anything hardcore, but there’s no reason that an older senior horse can’t be used in a regular fashion. If they’re sound they ought to work. Just like a human doctor’s going to tell you and I, exercise is part of the battle, same thing with them.

Feeding Your Horse – What Do Horses Eat and Drink

Today I’m going to be giving you guys some tips on how to keep your horse happy and healthy. We’ll cover the more general stuff to keep you and your horse happy and to avoid the vet coming out.

What Horses Eat

I personally feed all my horses in big trucks that are on the ground and the reason I mean on the ground verses on a mounted, is feeding on-the ground choke collar and respiratory reasons. They have their head down so it makes drainage– when the heads down everything drains.  That avoids respiratory irritant from other things– it’s better so they won’t choke.

Also another thing about feeding and trust is you can always ensure that your horse gets all of the supplements that you give it which is really important.  Especially if your horse’s on expensive medicines for arthritis or whatever, the issue is it’s really good to be able to know that they get that and it’s not somewhere buried in the dirt.

Checking your hay is super important to ensure that your horse is getting all the nutrients he needs and isn’t ingesting something that’s going to cause him an infection.  Sometimes if you check your hay, sometimes you’ll find leaves and other stuff that companies put in there just to fill it up!

Bad hay generally doesn’t have a lot of nutrition in it and that’s kind of the whole reason we feed. You want it to have a lots of like leafy material and you want it to be a pale green to gold color. And it should have lots of stuff in it and mature seed heads!  It should have the sweet smell if it smells musty or sour anything there’s a good chance that there’s mold in the hay and if there’s smoke in the hay that can cause a horse a lot of problems so just check.

What Horses Drink

Clean water is super important for us as it is horses. It’s not that hard to keep up.  A good way to test if your water is clean enough because a lot of people ask how like how clean is clean: Would you drink it?  Look at it and say, “Would you drink that willingly?”  We all get desperate sometimes, but would you drink it just on a regular.? Say “yes” then your water is clean and you’re providing a good source of water for your horse.  Horses need a lot of water.