How do you familiarise yourself with how your horse learns?

Why is it is important how your horse learns?   Because every horse, like every person, learns differently.


The day you decided to buy a horse, that is the day you also decided that you like learning.

horse looking over a stall looking to learn something new
   A horse that is ready willing and able to learn

As every parent knows, horses are like children, they like their comfort. Once they settle into their desk chair onto their game, it is not the best time to try and teach them a  new skill or ask for their attention.


Right or wrong answer these responses depend on what the horse knows and how you make him feel about that answer.

When your horse is in flight mode, he is not thinking about a solution, he is frightened, and his instincts have gone back to survival mode. The brain is off, and no learning is happening, unhappy you can’t teach this horse anything at this moment.

So finding a solution to this problem is breaking the frightening situation into chunks that are manageable and achievable. This can be leading your horse away from his friends or to unfamiliar places. Becoming a steady leader that stays calm in control and not demanding and overbearing.  So the horse can look for you for guidance and reassurance.

Starting with small outings that go to the edge of the horse’s comfort zone. When the horse is at a comfortable place at this time, you give your horse space and then let him think about the situation and digest.

Skill in this scenario is to know when to push and when to pause.

Watching the smaller signs of the horse’s comfort and discomfort. This can be a flick of an ear, a look to getting the horses full attention on you. The horse’s breathing lets you know a lot about his mental outlook, breathing to the full display of snorting and prancing. Or just standing there, way too quiet and just planting their feet and internalising the whole situation that your horse found overbearing.  Cheeking how quickly they come down from the rush up, to standing (square) relaxed with their head slightly lowered or moving forward in a relaxed manner with a content look on their face. Reward the first step towards the desired behaviour.

A little bit at the time build upon a relationship, time is at the moment, not something you start measuring.

Unwanted behaviour you can’t ignore it…. you have to suggest to your horse go looking for another answer, so leaving them alone, ignoring your horse is a reward.

So to stop asking your horse questions, for example yielding a shoulder or moving the hindquarters away,  if the horse ignores the request then this is bad behaviour, ignoring his answer is rewarding him. At this moment, the pressure stays on, the first step, move in the right direction gets acknowledged, and the pressure comes off.


If the horse says no, you either ask the wrong question or you ask the right question in the wrong way. In this scenario, this could be your body language, are you in the correct position? That the horse can’t move away from you? Or are you blocking him? How clear is the request? The amount of pressure you use on a scale from 1-10.

Pick up on tiny cues, prepare to work with people that will teach you, read the small sign and work up to the finished result.


Sometimes we got to take a step back to accept new ideas to become a better person, trainer, rider,  or coach we make mistakes, so that is a way to learn .. horses are very forgiving, and we are looking for another puzzle pieces to complete the picture.

Horse are fond of comfort – same as us ‘if it is alive it is lazy’ so if they answer us, with something we like, we leave them alone.

Ask the right question – correct answer – instant reward.

Don’t ask too much, in the beginning, be kind to give him time to think

Working out find a comfortable place and the horse will look for that place, so riding and groundwork become effortless and flowing.


Building up a bit of excess trust charging up batteries to full so you have something to draw from when you need it.