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 …

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

Basics of Equine Behavior

One of the keys to safely working with your horse is understanding natural horse behavior. If you can predict when a horse is about to be aggressive or spook at something, you are better able to respond and either avoid a dangerous situation, or prevent that behavior. The article below explains some of the horse’s natural behaviors.

Carey A. Williams, Ph.D., Extension Specialist in Equine Management, Rutgers University


Reinforcement for Horse Learning

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

The trainer must decide the appropriate form of reinforcement to stimulate the proper response when a horse initially learns a new cue. The basic principle of reinforcement is that certain events are capable of strengthening responses to certain stimuli. It is doubtful any learning can take place without some type of reinforcement.

Reinforcement can be divided into two categories:

  • Primary reinforcement – has natural reinforcement properties. Examples of primary reinforcement are feed, pain, and

Fundamental Training for Horse & Rider

In this set of videos, basic ground work, longing and handling methods are demonstrated, as well as numerous suppling and basic training maneuvers are shown to develop quiet, broke horses. An additional presentation discusses behavior of horses.

Presenters: Gary Stauffer and Monte Stauffer, UNL Extension Educators

This presentation was given at the 2007 Equestrian Academy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ground Handling with Monte Stauffer

  • Ground Handling: Gaining Confidence When Handling Horses
  • Ground Handling: Putting on a Saddle and Bridle