Got My Horse

Mastering Horse Training: From Bonding to Riding and Beyond

Building a Bond with Your Horse

If you’re looking to build a strong relationship with your horse, the key is to spend quality time with them. By doing so, you’ll get to know your horses personality, idiosyncrasies, and preferences, which will enable you to better communicate with them.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways to build a bond with your horse, including spending quality time together, creating positive associations, and engaging in enjoyable activities.

Spending Time with Your Horse

Grooming your horse is an excellent way to bond with them. When you groom your horse, you’re not only cleaning them, but you’re also interacting with them on a physical level.

This physical contact helps your horse feel calm and connected to you. Additionally, grooming gives you an opportunity to check your horses body for any injuries, swelling, or sore spots that may need attention.

Another way to foster a connection with your horse is by hand-walking them. Hand-walking is when you lead your horse by hand.

This activity is valuable as it provides a chance for your horse to explore their environment and move around freely, which is great for their physical and mental well-being. It also helps to reinforce your horse’s trust in you since they’re relying on you for safety.

Creating Positive Associations

Creating a positive association with your horse can be achieved by being a calming presence around them. Horses are prey animals, so they’re predisposed to be on high alert for potential danger.

By being a calming presence, you can help alleviate their anxiety and fear. You can achieve this by speaking in a soft tone, moving slowly, and being aware of your body language.

You can also create positive associations by engaging in simple activities with your horse that they enjoy. For instance, you can offer them treats after grooming is done, or you can provide them with a favorite toy or blanket.

This association helps your horse feel positive about their interaction with you and will look forward to being with you.

Mastering Groundwork

Groundwork refers to any training that is done while on the ground, before you get on your horse’s back. Proper groundwork is crucial for building a positive relationship with your horse and helping them develop balance, strength, and coordination.

Essential Groundwork Exercises

  1. Standing Still

    One of the most basic exercises is teaching your horse to stand still. This exercise teaches your horse to remain in one place, which is helpful when grooming, tacking up, or mounting.

    Begin by standing close to your horse, placing your hand on their shoulder or neck, and asking them to stand still. Ensure that your voice is firm, but not aggressive.

    If your horse moves, calmly ask them to stop, and reward them when they successfully stand still.

  2. Moving Your Horse’s Feet

    Moving your horse’s feet requires more effort than standing still, but it is essential to teach your horse to move in a controlled manner.

    Proper leading, flexing, softening, going around in a circle, moving the hind-end, and moving the shoulders are all valuable skills to master when working with your horse.

In conclusion, building a bond with your horse takes time and effort. By spending quality time grooming, hand-walking, and creating positive associations, you will foster a trusting relationship with your horse. Additionally, mastering groundwork exercises will help your horse develop balance, strength, and coordination.

Start by implementing some of these techniques and watch as your connection with your horse grows.

Desensitizing Your Horse

One of the most important things to do when training your horse is to desensitize them to various stimuli. Desensitization is the process of exposing your horse to different objects, sounds, and textures to help them become more comfortable with unfamiliar situations.

This is especially important during the beginning stages of your horse’s training, as it will help them become more accepting of new experiences. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of desensitizing your horse, as well as some techniques you can use to desensitize them.

Benefits of Desensitizing

Desensitizing your horse will make it easier to saddle them up and prepare them for riding. When you desensitize your horse, you’re able to touch and put things on them that they may otherwise be scared of, such as a saddle or bridle.

This is important since you will eventually need to put these items on your horse when you ride them. Desensitizing your horse also builds trust and helps establish rapport between you and your horse, which is vital if you want to have a fulfilling relationship with your horse.

Additionally, desensitizing your horse to pressure is critically important. Pressure is a key element in horse training, as it’s how you communicate with your horse.

Teaching your horse to accept pressure without fear will make it easier for you to communicate with them when you’re riding them. This will ultimately improve your horse’s performance.

Desensitizing Techniques

  • Materials

    Introducing your horse to different materials is a simple but effective way to desensitize them. This can include items such as blankets, saddle pads, and ropes. Start by placing the material near your horse and letting them sniff and investigate it.

    Once they’re comfortable with it, you can move on to putting it on them gradually.

  • Noise

    Exposing your horse to different sounds can help desensitize them to noise. This can be achieved by introducing your horse to different noises, such as clapping your hands, crinkling plastic bags, or banging pots and pans. Begin by exposing your horse to the noise from a distance, gradually getting closer and louder over time.

  • Pressure

    Desensitizing your horse to pressure can be achieved by using a technique called “pressure and release.” This involves placing pressure on a sensitive area of your horse’s body, then releasing the pressure once they stand still. For instance, you might place pressure on your horse’s flank or nose by applying moderate pressure, then releasing the pressure once your horse stands still.

    Gradually increase the pressure to help your horse understand that pressure isn’t something to be scared of.

Starting Your Horse

Starting your horse under saddle is an exciting and fulfilling experience for both you and your horse. However, it’s crucial that you properly introduce your horse to the saddle and bridle before starting their riding training.

Introducing Tack

Before you start riding your horse, you should make sure that they’re comfortable wearing a saddle, bridle, and halter. Ideally, your horse should already be desensitized to wearing these items before they’re ridden.

Begin by introducing your horse to the tack. Approach them slowly and calmly while holding the saddle, bridle, or halter.

Let your horse investigate the items and sniff them. Once your horse is comfortable with the items, you can gradually put the tack on them, starting with the halter and bridle first.

Riding Your Horse

Before you start riding your horse, you should spend time lunging them. Lunging is a training technique where your horse runs around you in a circle on the lunge line.

This allows them to release energy and helps them become comfortable with you giving them commands. Once your horse is comfortable with wearing tack and lunging, you can start introducing them to riding.

Begin by mounting your horse and walking them around the arena. Encourage your horse to move forward by using gentle leg pressure.

As your horse becomes comfortable walking, gradually increase the intensity by picking up the gait and asking for more speed. During this training, you should work on desensitizing your horse to accept pressure from the reins, as well as guiding them by steering in different directions.

This will take time, but with patience and training, your horse will gradually become more comfortable with the pressure and directions. In conclusion, desensitizing your horse and introducing them to tack are vital aspects of horse training that will set the foundation for successful riding.

With the right approach and techniques, you can gradually build your horse’s confidence and help them become comfortable with new experiences. By doing so, you will develop a stronger relationship with your horse and lay the groundwork for future success.

Final Steps

After taking the time to build a bond with your horse, get them used to groundwork, desensitize them to different situations, and introduce them to tack, you’re ready for the final steps of horse training. In this article, we’ll cover some of the last steps that will help you and your horse succeed, including mounting and the first ride, as well as continuing your horse’s training.

First Ride

The first ride is a momentous occasion for you and your horse. It’s the culmination of all the groundwork and training that you’ve done up to this point.

To make the first ride a success, the first step is to ensure that your horse is comfortable being mounted. Place a block or stool next to your horse so that you can easily reach the stirrup.

Position your horse parallel to the block and place your left foot in the stirrup. Next, swing your right leg over the horse’s back and rest your foot in the right stirrup.

Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both stirrups and that you’re maintaining balance. Once you’re mounted, start by walking your horse slowly around the arena.

Take time to communicate with your horse and reinforce your control cues. Encourage your horse to move forward and respond appropriately to your commands.

Maintain your balance and control while keeping your ride calm and stress-free. Remember, it’s your horse’s first ride, so it’s normal for them to be nervous or anxious.

Be patient and encouraging throughout the ride.

Continuing Training

After the first ride, you’ll need to focus on continuing your horse’s training. The key to training success is repetition and consistency.

Continue to reinforce your horse’s previous lessons, such as desensitizing, groundwork, and communication cues. Repetition and consistency help your horse to remember what they’ve learned, making the training process smoother.

After your horse is comfortable with the basics, you can begin to refine their training. This means building on the training you’ve done so far, and refining your horse’s movements and behavior.

For example, you can work on getting your horse to turn more sharply, cantering smoothly, or communicating more subtly. Refinement is a continual process that takes time and patience, so take it one step at a time.

As you continue your horse’s training, ensure that you’re consistently communicating with them. This means using consistent cues and body language.

Your horse relies on these cues to understand what you expect of them. A great way to reinforce communication is by using verbal cues such as “whoa” or “walk on” when riding.

Finally, consistency in training is key. Working with your horse every day is an ideal way to make progress and ensure they continue to develop.

This daily training doesn’t always have to be intensive, but even a little practice every day will dramatically improve your horse’s confidence and ability over the long term. In conclusion, the final steps in horse training include mastering the first ride and continuing training by refining movements and communication.

By taking your time and working on consistency and repetition, you and your horse will develop a strong partnership that can last a lifetime. So, continue practicing, refining, and enjoying the journey ahead.

In this article, we’ve explored various aspects of horse training. Starting from building a bond with the horse, mastering groundwork, desensitizing, introducing tack and finally concluding with the first ride and continuing training.

We’ve highlighted the importance of establishing rapport with your horse, being consistent, and using repetition to make sure that your horse learns commands and gains confidence. Training a horse takes time and patience, but by following these steps, you can build a strong bond with your horse that leads to a successful riding partnership.


  1. How do I desensitize my horse?

    Desensitization can be done using various techniques such as introducing your horse to different materials, exposing them to noise, and exposing them to pressure among others.

  2. How do I introduce my horse to tack?

    Begin by introducing your horse to tack such as the saddle, bridle, or halter.

    Let your horse slowly investigate it before gradually putting it on them.

  3. How do I start the first ride with my horse?

    Ensure that your horse is comfortable being mounted, and start by walking them slowly around the arena.

    Take time to communicate with your horse and reinforce your control cues, maintaining balance throughout the ride.

  4. What is the importance of repetition and consistency?

    Repetition and consistency will help your horse remember what they’ve learned, making the training process smoother and result in your horse developing greater confidence in their abilities.

  5. Why is communication with your horse important during training?

    Your horse relies on cues and body language to understand what you expect of them. Consistent and clear communication will help them understand what you want them to do.

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