HorseQuest Learning Lesson: Effective Horse Training and Rider Development

Reining horse

A horseman must understand the basic nature of the horse and the training principles involved in a progressive teaching system that develops the various maneuvers and activities desired from the horse. Training lessons need to be simplified as much as possible so the horse can quickly develop appropriate responses. In this learning lesson, efforts will be made to explain and simplify the process of communicating with the horse in a straightforward manner.

This learning module provides several methods …

Horse Fight vs Flight Instinct

Betsy Greene, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Vermont; and Pat Comerford, Equine Extension Specialist, Penn State University

Horse Flight Instinct

Horses prefer to flee from danger, if possible. This may be in the form of a total “run off” or the horse that simply does not want to be caught. However, if flight is not an option, horses will fight to protect themselves from a perceived danger.

Horses evolved from small mammals whose survival depended on their ability to flee from …

Basic Horsemanship Principles

Even the simplest of tasks performed around horses can take long periods of time for both the horse and handler to learn. Everyday tasks such as haltering, leading and tying are important, simple tasks that must be done correctly. The article below explains the proper steps involved in catching, haltering and leading a horse, as well as cues to use while working around horses.

Steven M. Jones, Extension Horse Specialist, University of Arkansas

Catching a horse safely and correctly is …

Saddling the Horse

There is more to the saddling process than throwing on a saddle and cinching the girth. Correct saddling and grooming prior to riding is key to having an enjoyable ride. The article below discusses the proper way to groom and saddle your horse.

Steven M. Jones, Extension Horse Specialist, University of Arkansas

An incorrectly saddled horse is like a person wearing poorly fitted boots. The same way our feet begin to hurt and develop sores, the horse’s back begins to …

Safety at Horse Shows

Common sense is the key to safe and successful horse showing. Safety procedures should not only be practiced at horse shows but also at home every day. This article discusses safety issues at home and at the horse show, for both the exhibitor and show manager.

Doyle G. Meadows, Professor, Animal Science, University of Tennessee; Warren Gill, Professor, Animal Science

Girl holding horse

Safety at horse events, such as horse shows, should always be given the highest possible priority. The horse show environment …

Showmanship and Grooming

Being able to handle your horse safely on the ground is an integral part of owning a horse. Showmanship takes this skill to the next level. Showmanship requires the horse and rider to be skilled in condition. The following article discusses how to prepare for a showmanship class and bring home a blue ribbon.

Revised by Gale Chrestman, Extension 4-H and Livestock Specialist, Mississippi State University.

Showmanship is the conditioning, grooming and presenting of a horse to its best advantage. …

Bit Selection for Riding and Training Horses

Identifying differences in bit construction and understanding some of the important principles of bit use will provide an educated basis for selecting bits. The article below explains the different types of bits available so that riders can determine which one is more appropriate for their horses.

David W. Freeman, OSU Extension Equine Specialist

Bits are designed for riders to cue a horse by placing pressure in and around a horse’s mouth. This pressure is used to control the speed and …

Approaching a Horse

Kathy Anderson, Extension Horse Specialist, University of Nebraska; and Pat Comerford, Extension Horse Specialist, Penn State University

There are a number of things to keep in consideration when approaching a loose horse. Be familiar with the horse’s field of vision and never approach from a horse’s blind spot. Consider other animals and their position and possible reactions in the pasture. Read the horse’s attitude by watching his body language. Speak calmly and confidently. Approach the …

Understanding the Flight Zone of Horses

Pat Comerford, Extension Horse Specialist, Penn State University; and Betsy Greene, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Vermont


Flight Zone

One point to consider when approaching and working with your horse is its flight zone.

  • Understanding the flight zone can reduce stress to the horse and help prevent accidents to both horse and handler. The flight zone

Horse Training Principles Related to Bit Use

Horse with snaffle bit

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Bits provide one of the major points of control when riding horses. Knowledge of horse behavior and training principles used to modify behavior must be considered when selecting and using bits. Bitting is a continual process which, through repetitive and step-wise training, teaches horses to accept bits and to properly respond to bit pressure.

The goal of the bitting process is to train the horse to respond to as light a bit pressure as …