Category Archives: Horse Training

The Life of a Racehorse – Before the Training Begins

colt-204195_1280The life of a racehorse begins long before it runs on any course. Before the horse steps foot on a course, is handed over to a racehorse trainer, or even born, owners and breeders carefully consider which sire and dam will make the best pairing to throw the ideal racehorse. These horses are bred in an attempt to pass on select qualities to their foals. Ideally, the offspring will naturally possess enough speed, stamina, and ability to make it successful, and these traits can be honed when the horse is old enough to be sent to a racehorse trainer and prepared to race.For most racehorses, life will begin in a breeding barn on a stud farm. Because all of these horses will be given an official birthday of January 1, breeders plan to have foals as close to January as possible so they will have more time to develop before beginning to race as two-year-olds. In the first few days of a new foal’s life, it will stick closely by its dam as it gains strength. The colt or filly will slowly become more independent. At first, foals need the mare’s milk, but eventually will begin to eat grass and then oats and grain. The filly or colt will be weaned from the mother when it is around six months of age, and is then known as a weanling.

For a while after weaning, the young horses are allowed to develop in paddocks. They are often turned out with other weanlings to grow and play. Weanlings become yearlings the first January after they are born. At this point, they are officially recognized to be a year old. While they are still a long way from beginning work under a racehorse trainer, the horses will soon be more directly affected by the racing industry. Many yearlings that have future careers running on the flat will be prepared to be sold at yearling auctions. Also, near the end of the year and just before their two-year-old birthdays, yearlings will be broken to the saddle. They will learn to accept tack and even the weight of a rider, and may possibly be introduced to a training track, though they will not be asked to work.

Once the yearlings have been introduced so some of the elements of the life of a racehorse, the best prospects will be sent to a racehorse trainer to join his or her stable of horses in training for races. Horses are eligible to race on the flat at two years of age, but jumps are reserved for three-year-olds and older horses.


If you have a passion for horseracing and would like to have further involvement then racehorse trainers can provide you with the vital next step, whether it be buying a racehorse or becoming part of a racehorse syndicate.


Originally posted 2015-01-06 06:08:29.

How To Get Your Horse To Finish His Stop

On the surface the principles of getting a horse to move and getting him to stop may appear directly opposed to each other. Both are immensely important in horse riding and training, depending on the situation, and both principles aid in teaching the other. In other words, getting a horse to go forward is critical in teaching him to stop and vice versa.

Firstly, what does it ‘really’ mean to stop? Stopping means: ‘Quit moving, drop dead, right here, right now, don’t go ’til I say, etc.’

As you can see, stopping is very black and white. Stopping isn’t slowing down. Stopping isn’t leaning to take a step once you’ve stopped. Stopping is not moving. Stopping is stopping. So it is essential that your horse understand what stopping means.

In order to teach your horse to stop, you must first examine your own behavior. In other words, when you’re on your horse and he’s moving a little too fast for you, what do you do? Do you say, ‘Whoa’ when you want him to slow down? If so what do you say when you want them to stop? So, do NOT say ‘whoa’ unless you want him to stop.

This habit causes confusion to the horse, remember they are creatures of habit and learn through repetition. They do not respond well to the same cue being for two or more different tasks. So change your habit because if you don’t, the horse will think ‘whoa’ means to slow down. The next thing to change is to ensure that you are very black and white in your instructions. When you say ‘whoa’ and you want him to stop, then he needs to stop – period! So here’s a tip to ensure that our horse learns this important skill. It order to get your horse to finish his stop and stop when you say ‘whoa’, get him to back up immediately on completing the stop.

Backing up immediately on completion of the stop assists the horse to learn that they are not going to be immediately moving forward. When you say ‘whoa’ they know that you going to ask them to take a step or two back. An added bonus of this technique is that it actually gets their backend under them, which has the effect of getting their front end lighter, which enables them to move left or right with greater ease, because it’s a more athletic position. It is important to remember that a horse stops well is the result of good habits on behalf of his rider, and effect and clear communication between rider and horse.

Read more:

King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian
Marguerite Henry Horse Books Set of 6 Volumes Including Misty of Chincoteague, Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague, Stormy, Misty's Foal, Misty's Twilight, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, and King of the Wind, the Story of the Godolphin Arabian
Arabian Horses (Ultimate)

Originally posted 2015-01-04 05:53:04.

Designing Your Horse’s Spring Training Program


Levels of equine athletic training are becoming more acutely researched, more competitive, and more geared towards the longevity of the athlete’s career than ever before. To be ahead of the herd, a horse needs cross training and other varied forms of exercise to achieve the all-around competitive level required in most sports. The components of optimal fitness are cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and ideal weight.

In order to reach optimal levels of cardio-endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility at an ideal weight, workouts need to be calculated, and increased over time. This includes the frequency, intensity, and duration of every exercise. It sounds complicated, but can be easily monitored. By keeping track, you can carefully build on each component which adds gradual strength with less threat of injury. Listening to your horse, your instincts, and how you both feel has a lot to do with each workout. If your instincts tell you not to workout, don’t. If you remain conscientious, while sticking to your long term plan, missing a workout won’t affect the end result.

The Components

Cardiovascular Endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygen to exercising muscles for a prolonged period of time. This is achieved by long, slow rides, as well as fast, explosive sprints. This type of fitness is required for just about every sport, and should be started slowly to allow the connective tissue of the legs, and the cardio-respiratory system to adapt without stress. A strong foundation and a strong heart is what keeps a horse strong during competitive events. In events lasting several days, this strong foundation can be what separates the healthy winners from the injured drop outs.

In the event that you or your horse are not quite in the mood to do whatever exercise that you have scheduled for a specific day, a long, slow walk is always more beneficial than nothing. This will keep the foundation strong and help to prevent injury in the long run.

Muscular Strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle can overcome during one single contraction. This is achieved by a variety of modes. Up hill training is an excellent way to achieve strength in the limbs and specifically the core muscles of the back and abdominals. Muscular strength is required in just about every sport. Sprints, rollbacks, and resistance training can be incorporated into an effective strength training program. With increased strength adaptation on hills, explosive exercises can be added gradually.

Muscular Endurance is the number of repeated contractions a muscle can perform against a resistance without fatiguing. This is achieved by a combination of cardiovascular and explosive sprint work meant to take the levels of both strength and cardio-fitness to the highest levels. Through aerobic exercise and strength training, muscular endurance will occur naturally. This type of work is added after the foundation work has been done. The foundation work depends on your horse’s starting point, but a couple of weeks of long walks, three times a week is a good start before you start getting more aggressive.

Flexibility describes the range of motion of a joint. Increased flexibility is achieved through various static stretching (stretches held for 30 seconds) exercises done by the rider. Stretching the legs is heavy work for you to perform, but you’ll find that your horse will not only enjoy it, but will learn how to stretch himself out in the paddock. Research has recently shown that static stretching not only aids in flexibility, but has shown to add overall strength to the body.

Dynamic Flexibility is like stretching because it helps the horse to be more flexible, but this type of flexibility exercise is done through bending exercises under saddle. Serpentines, circles, figure 8’s, and various drills up and down the arena are a perfect example of a dynamic flexibility exercise.

There are a lot of factors that may inhibit flexibility. Sometimes the joint itself has lost mobility, sometimes the muscles have lost elasticity, and worst of all, sometimes fat gets in the way. I like to incorporate dynamic flexibility exercises into the cool down, and also during the rest periods in endurance work. Once the muscles are warm and full of blood, they can achieve great gains in flexibility. Instead of just walking your horse during the little breathers in sprint training, you can ask him to walk in circles to keep his rib cage open and flexible.

Sport Specific Training

Sport Specific Training is specifically performing the sport that you’ll be competing in. It is necessary for developing motor skills as they relate to your specific sport, but doesn’t include all of the components for a balanced fitness program. By performing the movements used in your sport, timing and balance are developed. This type of training should be focused during the horse’s schooling sessions which will be incorporated into the off days of the exercise schedule. Schooling and workouts are two different forms of training and should be practiced separately. Schooling is teaching the horse how to perform specific movements, and workouts are performed for the purpose of gaining strength and fitness. By taking an un-schooled horse into the arena and pushing him or her through a specific sport routine at the maximum levels will never teach him or her to be accurate in their specific sport.

A barrel horse needs to be strong and powerful, but if he isn’t schooled in how to turn a barrel properly and with precision, he’s not a great barrel horse. He should be taught how to do this separately from his workout.

He needs some added flexibility exercise in order to bend more effectively. If he’s too muscular, he’ll create excess heat within his body which may lead to early fatigue. A barrel horse needs a good cardio program so that his body efficiently delivers oxygen to the muscles and organs.

He needs a good strength program to accommodate the explosive forward movement and speed, and he needs the flexibility to be able to bend around the barrel tightly. Once that’s all done, he needs to cool down and be stretched out so that his muscles aren’t stiff and shortened for the next bout of competition.

This horse needs a program that’s divided up into segments over one week periods, then tied together to make up several months. One trick is to keep the horse from peaking too soon or losing too much weight, while balancing the workouts to include schooling, aerobics, strength, endurance, and flexibility. During this time, the horse’s chemical metabolism will be responding to each of your exercises which will affect how much water he should drink, what and how much he should eat, and how much massage and stretching is indicated.

Any animal, any breed, any age, any size, can be brought to their own level of optimum fitness if given reasonable goals. It will be your responsibility to set the goals, and follow through with gradual progression to safely achieve those goals. The overload should be designed so that the body can adapt to a slow progression of increased challenges without causing injury.

Mix It Up

Like humans, a horse’s program should include time on the track, the weight room, and whatever strategy that you can implement that includes flexibility training. Of course, you will need to improvise with hill work and explosive work instead of a weight room, but you will become creative as you witness your horse getting stronger.

This should be fun for you and your horse. Of course there are rules, and there are definitely some things that are forbidden, like stretching a cold muscle, but this time together is yours to enjoy, and you should remain open to substitutions and changes as circumstances change.

One of my favorite things to do is ride my horse in an arena with loud music blasting. I love to focus on patterns, and challenges. Fortunately for me, I’ve always had a horse that enjoys the same thing. Once my horse is strong, I (sort of) let him choose the plan for the day. In my own fitness programs, I’ve substituted a day of skiing or a long hike for an aerobic class. Why not? As long as you include all of the important components, and maintain the current intensity, your horse will appreciate the variety of trails, hills, and arena work.

Keeping an open mind as you go, you can change things according to weather, illness, injury, or whatever else comes up. Be sure to record the exercises as you normally would, and note when you made substitutions.

Avoiding boredom is one of the main challenges faced during a long term fitness program. Timing is another important factor. Each body part requires specific training strategies. The muscles, including the heart take up to 6 months to reach their peak, connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) take one to two years to develop their maximum strength, and bones take up to 3 years to fully develop. This is why it’s recommended that horses not begin intense physical exercise before the age of 4.

Be aware of the types of surfaces in which you are training, and choose grass or wood chips over dirt when possible. Deeper footing adds to intensity, so pay attention to how your horse feels, and make wise choices when possible.

Establish Your Starting Baseline

In order to measure improvements, you need to establish your starting position. You can then set your goals for the future. A veterinary consult is helpful at this point, and you should start recording everything.

Ask the vet about your horse’s weight, conformation, and movement as it relates to your fitness plan. The next step is to determine if there are any risk factors that require special attention. Some risk factors would be pregnancy, recent injury or surgery within the past 6 months, diet (how much, special requirements, required supplements), and special needs like shoes and tack.

Voice all of your concerns to the vet during this pre-program vet check. Tell the vet what your goals are. Ask him or her if your goals are realistic. Ask questions about your horse’s resting heart rate as opposed to what the vet might estimate the maximum heart rate to be.

If there are any questions about the horse’s tack or hooves, be sure to consult with a reputable professional before beginning the program. Having these items analyzed in advance can prevent some painful and expensive issues later in the program.

Keep Records

Height/Weight When you have the vet do the initial consultation, you will have them do the initial height and weight reading for recording. A height and weight tape can be purchased at most feed stores or catalogs for your follow up measurements.

Resting Heart Rate Take resting heart rate for 5 consecutive days the first thing in the morning to determine normal resting heart rate. Again, because of the nature of the beast, size, breed, and fitness level, there isn’t an exact average resting heart rate. Each horse will have its own normal. Be sure that you document this morning resting rate because later in the program, you will be monitoring the morning rate. An elevated heart rate in the morning can indicate over training, and this is something to watch closely.

Take Photos

You will be really happy to have your success recorded.

Put It Together

This is the fun part. Take the freedom to be creative with this. Start slowly, be sure to warm up properly, and then put it together according to what you and your horse choose. Once the foundation has been laid, you’re free to do as you choose. Here are some ideas;

For the first couple of weeks, lay the foundation with walking three times a week

Add one day of schooling. By this, I mean to take one day to slowly take your horse through his specific sport movements in a calculated and organized way at about 60% of his maximum.

You are now ready to add some strength work either by getting more aggressive and explosive in specific sports movements or by adding some hill work. Utilize the cool down time for dynamic flexibility like serpentines and figure 8’s.

After the under saddle cool down, while the horse is still somewhat warm, add some stretching to keep the horse flexible and not too bulky and stiff.

As time goes on, you can perform the sport specific exercises more and more aggressively to improve the horse’s endurance until you’re performing at 100% while still maintaining the precision that was taught during the schooling segments., Kathy Duncan is the author of The Fit Horse Companion, a manual for horse health and fitness including massage therapy and hydrotherapy.

Equine Emergencies: Treatment and Procedures
Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse
The Fit Horse Companion

Originally posted 2014-12-31 15:29:13.

Story Of Dun It For Money

Dun-It-For-Money-CCRI first laid eyes on Dun It For Money as a yearling where he was in a pen with other colts. Knowing he was too expensive for me, I purchased another colt who turned out to be a champion. I could not get him out of his mind. As a three year old, he was then sent to the NRHA Futurity where he placed in the finals.

The following Spring, Dun It For Money was shown at the Olympic Trials in Burbank. I sat in the stands with the owner as they watched a hot mad stallion stop and refuse to go any more. The rider threw his hands up in the air and rode out of the arena. The owner ran over and grabbed Dun It For Money from the trainer.

I did not see him again for 6 months and I still could not get him out of his mind. When Dun It For Money went up for sale, I sent for him. At the time that he arrived at my ranch, he was upset at the world and came out of the trailer on his hind legs rearing and striking. At that moment, I decided that Dun It For Money wasn’t ever going to leave my side. You see, we were both at a very similar stage in our lives and when we looked each other in the eye, there was a silent understanding.

With a month of horse trading and negotiating, I was able to purchase Dun It For Money. This was the most incredible moment in my life. I led him down to his arena and with eager anticipation I got on him. Dun It For Money promptly reached around and grabbed my leg with his mouth and took me to the ground. I pulled his head around, got him up, and got back on. Away we on our first trail ride together. I made him a promise that I would not ever work him or train him in an arena again because of Dun It For Money’s bad experiences. He blossomed very quickly and never once did he show any signs of quitting or getting mad!

The following summer I decided to enter him in the prestigious Santa Barbara Fiesta Rodeo and Stock Horse show him in Open Reining. We won it! I then entered him in the Monterey National Horse Show Open and again we took the championship title. I and Dun It For Money moved to Rosamond, CA where we occasionally showed at the local level. Not wanting to do reining with Dun It anymore, I just played around roping, team penning, and working cattle.

When Dun It For Money turned 15 years old, I decided to semi retire him to occasional trail rides only. Dun It For Money was not happy and grew over time to become mad and resentful over non use.

When the Extreme Cowboy Association “EXCA” Racing finals was just three days away, I decided to pull him out of his pen and try him on obstacles. To my surprise he loved it! In this first EXCA race, Dun It For Money had to jump, drag logs, and go over teeter bridges for the first time because I had not had a chance to introduce him to them. Dun It did not refuse one obstacle! We placed 4th in the Regional Championship with only 3 days preparation. Our first run video is the most posted and viewed globally and still is the favorite.

Three weeks later I took Dun It For Money to the Vaquero Days EXCA race in Desconso, CA where we won the Pro title. A few months later I took him to the EXCA World Championship where we made the finals and put on the first match race against Lee Hart. The Equine Affaire EXCA race was a couple months later where we placed 3rd against California’s toughest competition. Soon after we competed at the California Cowboy Racers EXCA event and we won it! This was his last race. Shortly afterwards, on May 24, 2011 at approximately 2:43 pm, Dun It For Money had a heart attack while breeding a mare and died in my arms. His legacy lives on through Dun It Colt 45, Laredo, La Cody Dun It, and Dun It Docavanna; all of which I own. On November 4, 2012, Dun It For Money was the first horse inducted into the EXCA Horse Hall of Fame.

I had always dreamed of the perfect horse, being a buckskin paint stud by Dun It For Money. I got my wish in March of 2008. I had been getting up every morning anticipating the new arrival. On the morning Laredo was born, I had Evon go check to see if he arrived. Evon came back to my room elated, “Chop, chop, get up and come see your dream horse”!

Laredo Dun It is the only buckskin paint stud by Dun It For Money. Laredo has his sire’s athletic ability, intelligence, and temperament. Laredo or Baby Bucky as we call him is now being trained for future shows and performances with an Extreme Cowboy Racing career in sight for 2015.

By Bill Cameron



Originally posted 2014-11-29 04:44:16.

My Horse Is Terrified of the Wormer Paste!

The yard was unusually busy and filled with anxiety when I arrived. Amongst the chatter I managed to glean that not long before lunch one of the livery horses had collapsed and been rushed to the vet school. Her life was hanging in the balance.

The cause was every liveries worst nightmare… an encysted red worm burden. It was so severe she had been given less than a 50% chance of surviving. Even if she did survive she would have permanent damage to her intestine that would mean careful dietary management for the rest of her life.

The horses at the yard, as with many yards, were turned out in groups and the groups never mixed. So any horse not in the group with this mare were most likely going to be unaffected. That didn’t stop many of the liveries going in to an emotional meltdown. My head was spinning and my stomach turned over as I digested the news. This mare shared a field with my youngster!

Regular worm counts as well as wormer for red worms and tape worm are part of my horses worming regimen so, in theory, my youngster should be fine. If only that was enough to stop me worrying.

The whole yard was put on ‘lock down’, grazing was off limits and horses were all stabled. An emergency worming programme was put in place and every horse had to follow this programme over the course of a week. It’s bad enough having to worm a horse a few times a year, I wasn’t about to disagree given the potential risk for my youngster.

My horses started out great with their week-long wormer regimen. They weren’t happy about it, but we were coping. Then around day 3 the yard owner decided that he would ‘help me out’ and he decided to worm my youngster before I arrived at the yard that day. I wasn’t particularly happy about it, but all seemed well.

Day 4 came around and it was time for the wormer. I prepped the tube and opened my youngsters stable door. He had one glance at the wormer tube and reacted as if I had thrown a snake in to the stable with him. This was not his usual reaction and I heaved a sigh as I could only imagine the scene the previous day with the yard owners approach to worming my youngster.

I pot the tube away and calmed my horse. Then went to find the yard owner. As my horses reaction had indicated, the previous days wormer administration had not gone well at all and it seemed that an approach along the lines of ‘pin it down with 4 men and a boy’ was taken. This was devastating news to me. My horse as showing me that a lot of emotional damage had been done in a very short space of time. Damage that was going to take more than one nights training to resolve.

There was nothing else for it. I had to quickly put a training plan together in my head as to how I was going to worm my horse that evening. It had to be done. The risk of not doing it was just too great. My approach was that of microshaping. I looked for the smallest approximation of the behaviour I needed from my horse to make this procedure as emotionally and physically safe as possible.

I wanted to tease apart what aspect(s) of the wormer was an issue so i broke it down in to steps to find what was OK and I could build from there. Starting where things were not OK was not going to lead to better things. I asked if I could open the stable door (no wormer in sight), yes, click and treat. Could I go in to the stable, then touch him, could I build up to touching him around his nose and his then his mouth. As long as he was calm and relaxed with each step of the process it was reinforced a number of times before moving on. At any time if he gave any indication that things were not OK then I took a step back in the training plan.

The next steps involved the wormer itself; could I stay on the other side of the door and simply hold the wormer tube, click for calm behaviour, wormer tube away and treat. We built this up gradually so that I could step in to the stable with the tube in my hand and he stayed calm.

It was surprising how quickly he learned that staying calm and relaxed about the process was preferable to getting anxious. Anxiety could easily have escalated but by approaching the training a small step at a time, by repeating each step and following Karen Pryors 10 Laws of shaping behaviour the end result was being able to worm my horse without force.

After just one nights training the behaviour was definitely not as good as I would have liked it to be, but we had a few more nights to work on that.

Over time I polished the behaviour by asking the horses to voluntarily bring their mouth to the wormer tube, open their lips and place their lips over the tube.

The final bells and whistles to the process was to teach the horse a cue where they knew “this time I plan to give the wormer”. If they were not ready they removed their mouth from the tube. If they are ready their mouth stays over the tube. Giving wormer paste to our horses is a necessary evil for most of us. However, we can give the horses control over the worming process and allow it to be their choice when the paste is given. We can make it a more positive experience for the horses.

The good news is, my horses are still in control over their wormer paste, neither of them were affected by the outbreak and the mare… she survived!

See some of the positive reinforcement wormer training in action;

Find out how clicker training can benefit you and your horse, contact;


Originally posted 2013-05-25 01:06:25.

Training Your Horse to Trailer Load

No Such Thing As A Problem HorseAt the end of a fun-filled, but long day out with your horse all that’s left to do is get your horse in the trailer. You walk your horse to ramp, walk in and before you know it you’ve ricocheted off the end of the lead rope. You walked on the ramp but your horse slammed on the brakes as if hitting a glass wall at the foot of the ramp. He’s refusing to load! A circle around, another attempt; he’s refusing point blank to even put a foot on the ramp. Tired, hungry, now feeling a little embarrassed and desperately thinking of ideas. ‘Stubborn’ and ‘pig-headed’ fleet through your mind, maybe even a little anger surges as you mutter, “just move!”. But that’s not going to help get him loaded, in fact those thoughts might make matters worse as they tempt you to pull harder on the lead rope; he plants more firmly, or put a couple of sharp tugs on the lead rope; he reels backwards with his head in the air. You’re running out of ideas.

Through Their Eyes

Travelling our horses in trailers, or lorries, seems simple, but how often do we stop to consider it from the horse’s point of view. Why would a horse refuse to load? We’re asking them to go in to a confined space and possibly be isolated from other horses. Previous experience may have been unpleasant (e.g. rough journey or going for painful vet treatments). Think about standing for a whole train journey without holding on; it’s just as hard work for horses. After exertion in a lesson (you want to get the most out of the instructor who is only there once a year), or at an event, he’s tired and another journey might be physically daunting.

Imagine being taken on a mystery tour not knowing where you are going and what will happen. It might be fun, it might not be, you just don’t know. The uncertainty of not knowing can be stressful. You know home, a deep bed and a good feed awaits, but your horse won’t know that, not for sure.

What’s the Plan?

You might never know the complete answer to why the horse refused to load, but you still need to ask the questions. What you do know for sure is that you need to get the horse on the trailer to get home. You need a training plan. More specifically, you need a training plan that will teach the horse to willingly and enthusiastically trailer load when asked and that will keep you both calm and focused.

It’s important to note here that motivation to do something is not the same as motivation to avoid the consequences of not doing it. To ensure willingness and enthusiasm (desirable emotional response) to do what is asked the rules of positive reinforcement need to be applied. For this clicker training can be a useful approach.

There are 3 key steps to creating a successful positive reinforcement training (clicker training) plan;


  • Step 1; Decide what you DO want from your horse
  • Step 2; Create a training plan
  • Step 3; Do the Training! Think about, decide and focus on what you want and, very importantly, how you want the horse to feel about doing it; willingly and enthusiastically trailer load when asked.


Small Steps

It’s your job to motivate your horse, that requires reinforcing (click and treat) each small piece your horse is prepared to offer you. Don’t ask for more than is already on offer. The smaller the pieces you reinforce the more likely it becomes that your horse will be successful. Letting him be right and to choose to participate is a big part of building enthusiasm. He just stopped bracing against you, click and treat. Now he’s stretching his neck forward, click and treat. Can he walk away from the trailer, come back round and do that again, click and treat. Small steps towards the end goal will ensure a higher success rate in getting your horse loaded as well as help to ensure a positive emotional outcome for you and your horse.

Find out how Amanda can help, and how clicker training can benefit you and your horse, contact;

By Amanda Martin

Originally posted 2013-05-10 22:52:55.

Canter – Your Horse’s Problem or Yours?

Canter Sequence
Canter Sequence

Canter has a definite left and right leg sequence. If your horse is on the wrong leg his legs are moving in right canter sequence on the left reign or left canter sequence on the right reign. A correct sequence is:

  1. outside hind
  2. inside hind and outside fore together
  3. inside fore

Your horse stretches his inside fore further forward than the outside to help him stay balanced (As you would put out a hand to steady yourself) which is why he needs to strike off correctly.

Take a look at these common mistakes – and why they won’t help your horse.

  1. Turning your horse’s head or leaning your body to the inside.Imagine all your weight was on one side of your body on a corner. You’d put out your other leg to try to stay upright, right? That’s exactly what he’ll do. To stay balanced he’ll throw his weight onto his outside front leg and make it his leading leg.
  2. Using your outside leg harder. If your outside leg is banging on your horse’s side he’ll bend away from it. If he’s bent to the outside he’ll take that lead.
  3. Turning a tight circle in the hope you’ll ‘encourage’ your horse to take the correct leg will only unbalance him. If he feels he’s falling to the inside he’ll throw his weight to the outside and take the wrong lead.

Most riders know the aids to canter but how you give them can have a huge effect on your transitions. Sitting trot is a key part of any canter transition. Do you avoid sitting for too long so you don’t upset your horse? Think again! What you actually need to do is sit for longer so he has time to relax.

Practice sitting trot. As you sit relax every muscle in your seat. Forget about how you look. If you’re a bit unstable initially it’s actually less unsettling for your horse than sitting and asking for canter in one stride.

Your horse must bend to the inside to strike off correctly but to do that he needs to bend through his body not from his head. Keep your contact even in both hands and use your body to bend him. He’ll mirror everything you do with your body with his. Turn your shoulders and hips to the inside and he’ll do the same.

Your outside leg moves back to tell your horse which leg to start cantering with (his outside hind). A firm nudge from your inside leg tells him when to go. Once in canter remember to move your outside leg back into position so you stay square and balanced in the saddle or you’ll unintentionally be asking him to move his quarters in.

Practice asking for canter on a 20m circle. Stay in sitting trot. Canter half a circle and trot half. Concentrate on the transitions. Ride 10 on each reign before you finish. Stay calm. One wrong lead isn’t a disaster. Settle your trot and ask again.

Remember your horse can only do what you ask. If he gets the wrong leg stop and think for a second. Are you sure it’s his fault? Or is he just doing what he’s told?

Do you want to keep up-to-date with the latest equestrian news, laugh at some funny horse bloopers or get inspired by beautiful horse quotes?


Visit Equestrian Sport News

Originally posted 2013-04-10 17:39:54.

How to Catch a Horse Who Runs From You

Horses Have Distinct Personalities
Horses Have Distinct Personalities

For horse lovers, one of the most frustrating experiences is trying to catch a horse who doesn’t want to be caught. Maybe you’ve had a long day at work and are eagerly looking forward to a relaxing trail ride, or perhaps you need to catch your horse to haul him to a horsemanship clinic. Either way, if you can’t catch your horse, chances are that you’ll feel angry and upset when your horse runs from you and refuses to be caught.

So how do you catch a horse who won’t be caught?

As always, there’s no pat answer that will apply to every horse. Some horses avoid being caught because of past trauma, while other horses simply enjoy a good game of chase. In general, though, the way to successfully catch horse who runs from you has a lot to do with his personality type.

How to Catch a Horse Based on his Personality Type

If your horse is healthy and happy, meaning he isn’t suffering from some physical problem or the victim of some past trauma, he still might run from you when you go to catch him. To minimize the amount of time it takes to catch your horse, you have to first understand why he’s running from you. You can figure this out by determining his horse personality type. Learn more about personality types at Horse Harmony and Horse Harmony Test.

Like people, horses have distinct personalities, and each type avoids being caught for different reasons. So let’s take a look at each type, as well as the reasons each type might refuse to be caught.

The Fire Horse Personality Type

These horses love to be at the center of attention, and need a lot of love and grooming to stay happy. They need daily contact from their human, even if it is just a few minutes of petting and scratching out in the pasture. If your Fire horse runs from you, chances are that you haven’t been spending enough time with him, and he is pouting. Fire horses do hold grudges, and tend to “make you pay” for any lack of attention.

To catch a pouting Fire horse, be patient but don’t give up. Follow him slowly and avoid getting angry. When you do catch him, offer him a treat or two as a reward. Pet him and reward him lavishly with your affection. And, in the future, to avoid this kind of pouting, try to spend some quality time every day with your Fire horse, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. You’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts with a loving and loyal horse who is easy to catch.

The Wood Horse Personality Type

The Wood horse, being mischievous and fun-loving, truly does enjoy a good game of catch. He thoroughly enjoys making his human “work” to catch him, and is especially pleased if he can get his person angry in the process. Wood horses take game-playing to a whole new level. A Wood horse might also avoid being caught if he feels he hasn’t had enough turnout or playtime. Wood horses need a lot of exercise and freedom before they are ready to get down to work.

To catch a horse with a Wood personality, first be sure that he has plenty of room to run and play on a daily basis. Wood horses have energy to burn, and trying to catch this kind of horse before he’s burned off his excess energy is like trying to hold onto a lit firecracker. If your Wood horse has had plenty of turnout but still refuses to be caught, the next step is to go into game mode. If you approach the process in a playful mood, chances are your horse will get a kick out of running for a few minutes, and then reward your playfulness by allowing himself to be caught. You might also entice him by offering him a varied training program. Wood horses love to do something different every day, so by offering him variety in his training rather than repetitive drilling, he’ll look forward to being caught and going to work.

The Earth Horse Personality

Food, food, and more food. Food is the currency of choice when you want to catch a horse with an Earth personality type. Most of the time, Earth horses are quite lazy, and will only run from you if they perceive that being caught means less food. For instance, if your Earth horse is turned out on a lush green pasture and you want to catch him so you can ride him in endless 20 meter circles, he’s going to run because there’s no food in the dressage arena.

To make it easier to catch an Earth horse, make it a routine to offer him a significant food reward every time he allows himself to be caught. For instance, if he is already turned out on a green pasture, be sure to offer him a handful or two of sweet feed after you have caught him. The Earth horse has a tremendous sweet tooth, and will do almost anything for a sweet treat. By making the sweet treat a routine every time you catch your horse, he will become easier to catch over time because he knows he’s getting something good as soon as the halter goes over his head.

The Metal Horse Personality

The Metal horse is one of the most challenging horses to catch. Because Metal horses value their solitude above all else, they avoid being caught at all costs. Many a person has been known to expand their vocabulary of curse words while trying to catch a Metal horse. Luckily, once you do catch a Metal horse, he will work for you until you tell him to quit. His avoidance of being caught isn’t about dodging work, it’s just a manifestation of his solo personality.

To catch a Metal horse, you either have to find his weakness, or drive him into a smaller area where he knows he can’t run from you. For instance, if your Metal horse lives on a giant pasture, you might have to drive him into a corral before you can catch him. But a Metal horse isn’t all that easy to drive, so you might have to catch and lead another horse into the corral first. Your Metal horse will most likely follow this other horse, though at a distance. When you’ve tied the other horse, also known as a “Judas horse,” in the corral, you can more easily drive the Metal horse into the corral. Once trapped in a small enclosure, your Metal horse is most likely to turn and face you, knowing he’s caught.

The other option is to find a Metal horse’s weakness. For instance, I know of one Metal horse in a dude string who easily eluded wranglers for weeks, but had a weakness for carrots. If you brought a large bag of carrots with you into the pasture, you could catch this horse within 15 minutes. Another Metal horse loved to team rope, and allowed himself to be caught only if you carried a lariat into the pasture along with his halter.

The Water Horse Personality

Being the most fearful of the five horse personality types, the Water horse tends to run because of fear. Your Water horse may not fear you, but he may fear what you will do to him once he has been caught. For instance, if he is overwhelmed by his training program, he’ll avoid being caught so he can avoid those fearful experiences. And on some days, he may just be stuck in his “fight or flight” reflex. For example, if you try to catch a Water horse on a windy or stormy day, he might run from you just because the whole day is downright scary.

To catch a horse with this kind of personality, your first priority is to make him feel as safe as possible in all situations. Keep your training sessions short and be sure they take place in an environment where your horse feels safe. This ensures that your Water horse won’t avoid being caught because of his fear of training. If you can’t catch your Water horse on a particular day because he is stuck is his “fight or flight” reflex, catch a different horse instead and offer that horse some yummy treats. Your Water horse, seeing that the other horse is safe and being rewarded, will soon come over to investigate. Then you should be able to catch him easily.

Because Water horses tend to be fearful and flighty, you may also want to consider adding herbal supplements to his diet to keep him calm and relaxed. I’ve discovered that either Eleviv or RelaxBlend work best for these kinds of horses.

How to Catch a Horse – Make Sense? I hope the descriptions of each horse personality type shed some light on the reasons why each type avoids being caught. This means you have to approach each type of horse differently when he’s running from you. Whether you need to adopt a “games” posture to catch the playful Wood horse or you need to bring the independent Metal horse into a smaller space, hopefully this article gives you some ideas for catching your horse… and reduces your frustration when your horse does run from you.

Horse Personality Typing Resources

Ever since I developed the Five-Element horse personality typing system, I continue to be fascinated by the amazing differences among the types. Experiences that stress out one type are manna from heaven for other types. For instance, the Wood horse loves the varied experience of doing something different everyday, while such a varied program would totally stress out a Metal horse. Fire horses tend to be a bit vain about their looks, while an Earth horse could care less what he looks like. He only cares about what his food tastes like!

There is so much to learn and I continue to delve deeper into the whys and wherefores of each personality type. If you’d like to discover your horse’s personality type or just find out more about horse personality typing, check out the resources below.

– Horse Personality Type Test
– Horse Personality Type Information
– Horse Personality Type Book
– Horse Personality Type Ebooks
– Horse Personality Type Educational Audios

Madalyn Ward, DVM, is a recognized author and veterinarian in the field of holistic horsekeeping. For free tips on horse health, horse personality types, and horse nutrition, plus one-stop shopping on holistic horse products, visit

Originally posted 2013-03-25 16:33:55.

Momentum and Forward Motion

Before we can begin to explain and have you understand motion or any type of movement we have to understand that any movement starts with the leg. And any movement being done correctly or incorrectly needs to be understood so that we are aware of what does happen inside as the horse does move.

The cycles of the steps of movement are referred to as gaits and are more fully explained later in greater detail. But, gaits are the patterns of movement that must be accomplished to allow forward motion or performance. Each gait starts with the movement of a rear leg, the next leg to move is the opposite front. This happens in this manner due to the fact that the horse is a lateral support animal. What that means is that the horse does support itself on opposite corners (of a rectangular shape) of its body.

Even when a horse is motionless the majority of the horse’s weight is being supported by one front leg and the opposite rear leg. One point that you might do with your own horse that is confined in a specific area ~ when it stands for a period of time you will notice that the horse does shift its weight from one front foot to the other. When it does shift its weight from one front foot to the other you will also notice that the weight bearing leg in the rear also changes and when it does change it is almost always to the opposite rear leg of the front leg that is the weight bearing leg.

There has to be an understanding that the front leg does act independently and is a supporting aid for the opposite rear leg. It is that statement that allows us to introduce a very basic statement of forward motion and how it affects the movement of the horse.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

The previous statement is the basis for understanding forward motion but it does need to be looked at in a manner that will make it easier to understand how it does pertain to the movement of the horse. So, what we are going to do is break the statement into sections that pertain to specific movements of the horse.

“For every action”

This is the first movement that is made by the horse, the starting of movement by lifting and bringing forward of the rear leg. Then once that the rear leg completes its forward motion cycle and returns to the ground, the second part of the statement comes into effect.

“there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Once that the rear leg completes its cycle and returns to the ground the opposite front leg starts to leave the ground and continues through its cycle until it is complete. This will then start a continuing process of alternating legs in motion that is referred to as the gait of the horse.

Before we can proceed past this point it needs to be understood that each pair of legs have a specific task to perform ~ not just during standing, but also especially during the movement cycles or gaits.

The front legs have two functions that they do perform sometime independently and at other times these two functions act together. The initial function of the front legs is to act as a pivot point that will allow the horse to adjust its body weight from front to rear as necessary during any of the necessary movements. In addition to being a pivot point the front legs act as a lateral support point (from side-to-side) during any necessary movements.

The back legs of the horse are attached to the largest muscle mass within the body structure of the horse; this is also the strongest part of the entire horse. The hindquarter is where all of the strength that creates forward motion and has been referred to as the “engine” of the horse since this is where all of the horse power is located. With the hindquarter creating the force used to initiate forward motion it is also the hindquarters that control forward motion or impulsion.

Understanding the great amount of strength that is accumulated within the hindquarters and how it is accomplished we can then proceed to the understanding that the same strength that was used to initiate the movement will then support movement through the complete cycle of forward motion. It must also be understood that once that forward motion is started and then supported by the movement of the horse additional parts of motion come into play. There are two additional parts of forward motion that we need to understand and they are momentum and inertia.

Looking at momentum more closely we need to be aware that it is broken down into three parts that make up the momentum cycle.

1). Creating momentum ~ is when the movement of the rear legs is initiated to start the gait process.

2). Supporting momentum ~ is the movement of the front leg to help balance and becomes the pivotal support factor that has been explained earlier. It is at this point that the front leg, or the pivotal support point is now supporting the majority of the body weight which will allow the horse to be able to bring the opposite hind leg in a forward motion, setting the cycle up for the final part of the momentum cycle.

3). Sustaining momentum ~ is the continuing of the momentum process which will allow it to happen over and over in an unending loop until it is necessary to stop the momentum process.

I have not been able to come up with any better way to explain momentum and how it pertains to the horse than what I have just explained. The other point that has to be considered is the fact or presence of inertia. Inertia is nothing more than mass in motion. What is meant here is that inertia is the force that has been created to allow the horse to continue its movement. Inertia also plays a major role in the sustaining of momentum; it is its supporting factor that allows movement or motion to become the continuing part of momentum. When it becomes necessary to stop the motion process of the horse momentum and inertia need to be overcome and then reversed. The stopping of the horse is the true overcoming and reversal of momentum and inertia.

What was just covered is the basics of forward motion as it works within the horse. We could talk about many more factors that do happen and even control forward motion process but, these are more specific and will be explained as we cover the areas of the body of the horse and the function of the rider in relationship to movement of the horse.


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


Originally posted 2013-01-25 06:07:43.