Advance and Retreat and Learning Theory

In my opinion, advance and retreat is the key to introducing everything to every horse without frightening them. Equally, when a horse has previously been frightened by a specific item, advance and retreat must be used to overcome the bad experience. When advance and retreat is used, two components of learning theory are at work: … Read more

The Horse as a Prey Animal

Every time I pick up a horse magazine, I read that horses are prey animals and humans are predators. Many articles say horses are ‘naturally’ afraid of humans because humans are predators. Others say it’s ‘natural’ for a horse to buck when the saddle is introduced, because a ‘dead animal’ is being strapped onto their … Read more

Too Many Horses Can’t Cope

Due to bad handling and bad training, thousands of horses never reach their full potential. Many horses don’t make it past the ‘breaking in’ stage. Many others are ‘blown up’ by the use of too much pressure and too much force during their training. These days, trainers everywhere chase horses with flags, ropes and tarps. … Read more

Desensitisation Doesn’t Make Sense

A common theme doing the rounds at the moment is that you must desensitise certain parts of a horse and sensitise other parts, in order to ride him and control him. Apparently, you must desensitise his girth area so he won’t buck and you must sensitise his mouth so he stops. You must desensitise his … Read more

Give the Flap the Flick

When you ride your horse, many trainers would have you believe that the biggest problems to overcome are plastic bags blowing in the wind, umbrellas suddenly opening and a world covered in plastic tarps. The first thing these trainers do is frighten young horses with plastic bags, flags, tarps, umbrellas and goodness knows what else. … Read more

Don’t Follow the Herd

There’s a big debate in the horse training world about whether you should be the ‘alpha’ mare, the ‘lead’ mare, the ‘boss’ stallion or the ‘submissive’ horse. Trainers have allegedly camped out in the bush for months on end to study the behaviour of wild horse herds. They say that observing horses in their natural … Read more

No Method, No Worries

A fellow rang the other day to buy a copy of my book. ‘I need it straight away because I’m breaking-in my horse and tomorrow I have to tie him up and put the bit on for the first time. Everyone says I have to tie him up before I ride him. Is the book … Read more

Respect and Desensitisation

I recently watched a video of a trainer trying to handle a horse’s legs. The horse was seven years old and kicked quite badly when anyone  attempted to pick up his hind legs. The trainer was obviously frightened of being kicked, so he flapped a rope around the horse’s legs to ‘desensitise him’. Though the horse kicked … Read more