10 Simple Tricks You Should Teach Your Horse

Most tricks, even the complicated ones, start with a simple trick or are made up of several simple tricks joined together. So just teach your horse the 10 super simple tricks below and you can use them to teach lots of different tricks or even design your own!


For example to teach a horse to do a ‘Simple Bow’ just break the trick into small steps.  First teach your horse to put their head down and then teach them to put their leg forward.  Then just ask your horse to join the two movements together.  And there you have a ‘Simple Bow’!

Below is a list of simple tricks that you can teach your horse in a fairly short time. Once your horse has mastered these tricks they can be used as the basics to teach a whole range of tricks.

1. Touch.  I like teaching this one first.  It is an easy trick to teach your horse and will really help your horse to understand how to learn a trick.  Ask your horse to ‘touch’ an item.  Teach this trick using items such as a ball, a soft toy or a traffic cone.  This is the beginning of several tricks, including fetch, kiss, hug… and lots of others.

2. Follow a target. (I use a brightly colored foam pool noodle stuck on a dressage whip or you can use a flyswatter).  This trick will help your horse to learn other tricks such as ‘yes’ and to perform liberty work.

3. Move sideways (by just pointing at their neck and side).  This trick will help you to move your horse and get them into the correct position for lots of tricks.  It is also how you begin to teach ‘twirling’.

4. Back up (by just pointing at their nose or chest).  This also helps to get your horse into position for other tricks.  Then you can teach your horse fun tricks like backing by just tugging (gently) on their tail, or you can even stand behind them and they will follow you backward while you step backwards.

5. Leg forward  This trick is used to teach the following tricks: counting, Spanish walk and simple bow.

6. Leg up (by just pointing at them).  This trick is the beginning of the bow and laying down. The farrier also loves this one! No more bending down to pick up your horse’s feet.

7. Look away.  Useful for those horses that are food hogs and can get pushy around treats. Keeps their nose away from you and the treats! :)

Trick training - Look Away

“Look Away”

8. Wait or Stand.  One of my favorite tricks!  Ask your horse to stand still without any restraints.  I use this to teach lots of tricks including standing on a pedestal (or if I just want my horse to stay still while I do something else).

9. Head Down.  This is used to start to teach your horse the Bow or to lay down.  It can also help to calm your horse.

10. Come.  This trick is used in fetch (once your horse picks up the ball or item) and is  needed for lots of liberty work.

If you teach your horse these 10 simple tricks you will have developed an excellent working relationship with your horse and taught them parts of lots of tricks.  It’s then just a matter of joining them together to create more complicated tricks or using them in different ways to create your own tricks!

If you would like to get started with trick training and teach your horse the first simple trick, ‘Touch’ then download our Trick Training ebook.  It will show you everything you need to know to get started and includes printouts and videos.  It is available from our PRODUCTS page.


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  1. Lynn Lewis says

    Dear Jain and Trigger, this could not have come at a better time. Thanks for reminding me how to make my horse time fun for her. I am having a rough day (so unusual, truly) because she for the first time in a long time, walked away from me when I went to get her for (so-called) Play. Obviously, our play time has become work time to her. Depressed does not cover my emotional state since then. I will print and paste this list of tricks on the inside of my front windscreen (not really) to remind myself that tricks make for fun time. Thank you again. I have bought Trigger a bag of carrots and horse cookies. ~Lynn

    • admin says

      Hi Lynn,

      Yes it’s really important to make training fun and enjoyable for our four-legged friends (otherwise why would they want to do it?). But don’t get down if your horse walks away sometimes and doesn’t seem interested in training. I’ve had horses that have been super keen all the time to learn new things and work with me, but others have days (just like us) when they’d rather not do any work (or play).

      Sometimes Trigger just wants to stand in the sun with his other friends. I will usually wait awhile and see if he changes his mind but unless I have to do something with him (for example I’ve organised a ride) then I’ll just blow him a kiss and let him be :-) I nearly always find that later that day or the next day he’s super keen again to try some training.

      Trigger says to send you a big “Thank You” for the carrots and cookies :-)

      Happy tricks!

      Jain & Trigger

    • admin says

      Hi Michelle,

      Have you signed up for our ebooks? They go into the basics of teaching a horse a trick. They tell you how to teach your horse to touch a ball (in preparation for fetching). Once you teach your horse one simple trick, you just use the same principles to teach a horse just about anything :-)

      In the next few weeks I’ll be sending out a survey to everyone on our email list to find out what sort of the training they would like and in what format (videos? printout? etc). These will go into more details of how to teach specific tricks like kiss, hug, etc.

      Happy tricks!

      Jain & Trigger.

    • admin says

      Hi Patty,

      Our ebooks cover the basics of teaching a horse a trick. They show you how to teach your horse to ‘Touch’ an item – I like to use a soft ball so that later I can then teach my horse to ‘Fetch’ the ball.

      If you teach your horse one trick and he understands it really well, you will be able to teach him just about anything! :-) Just spend time on those first few basic tricks, making sure that your horse understands that when he does something right and you give him a Marker (a special word / sound mentioned in the ebooks) that he will get a reward. Once a horse ‘gets this’ they will try really hard to learn new things.

      Soon I’ll be sending out a survey to everyone on our email list to find out HOW they would like to learn tricks (eg printouts with step-by-step instructions or videos etc) then Trigger and I will work on these, which will go into more detail. Stay tuned :-)

      Happy tricks!

      Jain & Trigger.

  2. Kailee says

    I love your site and your ebook. my horse is hard to catch so i thought mabey this would work. she is such a fast learner. i taught her loads tricks,
    Thanks for your advice looking forward to part 2 next week! cant wait :)

    • admin says

      Hi Kailee,

      Really good to hear that you are enjoying the site and ebook :-)

      Trigger used to be very difficult to catch when I first got him. He’d be in the furthest corner of the paddock and you couldn’t get near him. Now he watches out for me and as soon as he sees me heading toward his paddock he heads over to greet me. Love that ! He wants to be with me :-)

      Happy tricks!

      Jain & Trigger

  3. Carrie says

    These are great tricks, but I think you should do a how to guide online. I have never seen your book so it might be useful. I am trying to teach my horse, Gypsy Rose, to kiss and smile. Can you help me? You seen to know what you are doing.

    • admin says

      Hi Carrie & Gypsy Rose,
      Yes, have a look at the ebooks and they will give you information about teaching your horse tricks. We will also send you a link to the Horse Tricks Academy which is an online place where we teach tricks (including Kiss and Smile). Hope to see you in the Academy :-) Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  4. michele says

    Hi I’ve been reading your trick lessons and love them.
    I have a 6 yr old TB Gelding who is still a racehorse but he is really smart and soo ambitious. I taught him to kiss for carrots, he even purses his lips to kiss!
    So just wanted to let everyone know that even an on track TB can learn tricks. They always say racehorses are high strung and a little wild from being on the track.

    • admin says

      Great to hear you are enjoying the Trick lessons Michele :-) I’ve trained a few ex-racehorses to do tricks and they have all really enjoyed it. I found them really switched on and keen to learn. One TB I trained for a while learnt so quickly that I swear he was reading my mind! :-)

  5. Madeline says

    Hi there, I don’t think hotmail likes receiving e-books :D, anyways, I’ve watched some of the you-tube clips you have and so far I am thoroughly enjoying trick training Kota, but I’d really love to know how to teach him how to head but/kick a small ball back to me, if there is anyway you could get at least those steps to me it would be greatly appreciated.

    Maddy and Kota

    • admin says

      Hi Maddy & Kota,
      Sorry to hear that the ebook didn’t get through. You might like to add our email to your address book so that Hotmail lets our emails through. You can also purchase the ebook from our Products Page.
      It takes quite a few steps to teach a horse to fetch or push a ball back to you. You are best starting by teaching your horse to ‘Touch’ a ball. Then work on moving the ball further and further away from your horse (more on this in the ebook). I find that every horse that I have trained to play with a ball has developed their own trick with them. Trigger likes to pick it up and shake it and then throw it (for me to get!). Bella likes to chase it and push it back to me. A horse I owned a few years ago was happy to canter after the ball, pick it up and bring it back to me (like a very big dog!). Good luck with your trick training :-) Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  6. Isobel says

    Hi Jain and Trigger! I have been teaching my 19 year old horse tricks and she loves learning them! She can bow, but just by putting her leg forward and touching her knee with her muzzle. She can also lift her other leg on command. I want to find a way to combine these tricks and teach her to get down on one knee and bow, but she’s quite old, and I don’t want her to hurt herself! Do you think I should try this, or just keep the more simple bow? I have been watching youtube videos and many horses seem to drop down quite hard… I’m not sure if an older horse would be able to! I want her to stay really safe, and enjoy trick training as she does now, not worry about falling over! Thank you! :)

    • admin says

      Good on you Isobel for really thinking about your horse’s wellbeing!! :-) I think the ‘Simple bow’ looks really nice and is great for older horses as it doesn’t put any strain on their legs or back. A horse needs to have good balance and strength to do a full bow. I don’t ask Trigger to do the full bow much anymore (he’s about 23). If I do, I make sure he is wearing knee pads and I bandage his legs. I don’t want him to ever hurt himself doing something I have asked him to do. If you do decide to teach your horse the full bow then teach her in very small parts and make sure she is happy with each part before moving on to the next. For example teach her to lift her leg, then drop her head, then lean back. Then gradually increase the amount that she leans back until she kneels (very gently) on one knee. If you can’t do this on VERY soft ground / sand then always make sure your horse’s legs are well padded. Let her ‘tell’ you if she is happy doing this trick. If she is reluctant to do it or you think she is uncomfortable then I would stop immediately and practice other tricks instead. Good luck with the training! Jain & Trigger.

  7. Sarah says

    Hi Jain and Trigger :) I`m trying to teach my 16 y/o icelandighorse Skjóri some tricks, but it seems like he don`t want to learn … or he isn`t interesting. What could I do to get him more interest in learning trick like spanish walk etc. Thanks :) Love your videoes, and your site. You and Trigger is a big inspiration and help :)

  8. Bernie says

    Hi guys,
    I’m new to this “trick training” and the like, although I’ve been around horses since I was born and I’m almost 18 now. I have a 6 y/o mare called Ebony who was imprinted to me at her birth. I taught her to “hug” from a couple of months old by putting my shoulder under her neck and gently pulling down on her neck. I’m not sure if this is the same way you teach, but it worked for her. I gradually reduced the pressure on her neck and by the time she was about a year old, I only needed to place my shoulder under her neck and she would automatically perform hug.

    Unfortunately through a series of complicated events I couldn’t see for about 3 years, although she stayed on my dad’s farm the whole time. When she first saw me after this period, she didn’t remember who I was. I just treated her the same as I always had and she knew me by the third time she saw me (about 4 months after she saw me again). Now, a year after I “re-introduced myself” to her, I see her 2-3 times a week and she gets really excited when she sees me (part of the imprinting I assume).

    I have to admit I was surprised to see “come” on the trick list… My parents had a series of commands we taught every horse we owned (about 12 over 25 years I think) and “come up” was one of these, as was “back” taught by pushing on the horse’s chest and saying the word. Ebony automatically comes to me when she see me (again, part of the imprinting), and she “taught” herself “follow”. If I pat her and then walk away, she’ll follow me wherever I go.

    I’m currently trying to halter train her, which may seem strange, but the 3 years I didn’t see her have a lot to do with it. I’m a bit afraid to get her “broken in” because where I live in Australia doesn’t have a lot of trainers and I’m scared she’ll come back to me with a broken spirit. She is so sweet, and I don’t want that for her. I’ve been looking for alternates to work with her on and my dad suggested liberty training and trick training. Ebony’s very smart and completely trusts me, but she can be incredibly stubborn when she wants to be.

    Do you think this path will be a good one for us to go down? I’d love to teach her to do this kind of thing, even just to impress my friends (who all adore Ebony).

    Sorry this is kinda long…

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Dear Bernie & Ebony,

      It was really good to hear about the work you have been doing together :) The more I learn the more I realise that the best trainers are the ones who are self taught and have learnt from their horses. It sounds like you two have a really good relationship – trust is SO important.

      I agree with you about finding a trainer. I have a new horse called Bella and she is unbroken (hate the ‘broken’ word – but you know what I mean). I can’t stand the thought of sending her to someone else who won’t take the time to understand her. I suppose most trainers can’t afford to spend a lot of the time on an individual horse. I wish I could recommend someone here in Australia but I haven’t come across anyone yet that I would be happy to send Bella to. If you find someone or I do… let’s tell each other about them :)

      So I have started to work on all the preparation stuff myself. I use the same method as I do for trick training, so she just thinks it’s a bit of fun and a game :) She will now accept a saddle and a bridle (I use a bitless one). I do lots of liberty work with her. You will find that this comes as a natural part of doing good, kind, training and having fun with your horse – they just want to be around you.

      A lot of what I teach is about building the bond and communication with your horse. Once you have this you can teach your horse just about anything. All you need is a way to communicate to your horse what you want. Most horses really, really, really want to do what we ask, it’s just that sometimes they don’t understand what we want.

      I’m not sure if I’ve answered all your questions. Please feel free to contact me via this post or you can use the Contact form on this website.

      It’s really good that you are trying to do the right thing by Ebony :)

      I would love to hear how your training progresses.

      Happy tricks!

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  9. Faith Sasser says

    I have a 3 yr old mutt horse. I groom and spend time with him every day, he isn’t broken, (I hate that word too) and I want to know if trick training him will not only improve our bond, but make him ridable? I can sit on him bareback and walk him around (he just won’t go the way I want, he goes in circles) but as soon as you put a saddle on and sit on him, he goes bezerck! I need a safe and easy way to break him. Can you help?

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Hi Faith,

      I’m currently training my horse Bella to be ridden. I decided to take it really slowly and I’m using the same principles that I use for trick training. I break everything down into small parts and only teach her in short session (maximum of 10 minutes). I also use treats and a Marker (a special sound or word to let her know she has done the right thing).

      I spent ages getting her used to a saddle, firstly just asking her to touch it and then just holding it near her and then just putting it on and taking it straight off. Recently we have been going for long walks with the saddle on. (I use a very lightweight comfortable saddle). I have also practiced leaning across her and standing above her on a fence. All these things help to get her used to being ridden.

      I’m also asking her to do lots of movements on the ground. She will back, turn and yield with just a tiny bit of pressure on the halter. You can do a LOT of work on the ground to prepare a horse to be ridden.

      If you horse goes ‘bezerck’ when it is saddled then something must have happened to cause that. Maybe someone tried to put a uncomfortable saddle on him or did up the girth too tight. Or he got a fright when first saddled. I would go right back to basics and start again, teaching him that saddles are good things. I would also teach him to be really responsive on the ground, walking forward, turning, backing etc. Finally I would HIGHLY recommend getting help from a good, kind, trainer in your area. If he is super scared of being ridden in a saddle then he could be really dangerous (to you and himself). Sometimes a few lessons and advice from a good trainer can make a big difference.

      Good luck with the training. You sound like you are doing lots of good things, like just spending time with him and grooming him – this really helps to build the bond with your horse :)

      Happy tricks!

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  10. Ana says

    Hi Trigger and Jain! I have a 10 year old mare called Quimera. We currently do showjumping in 1.20 m, but I want to strengthen our bond with trick training. How can I start? Do you have any advice for the first session?
    Thank you :)

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Hi Ana, It’s good to hear that you want to strengthen the bond with your horse :) The first trick I like to teach all my horses is to ‘touch’ an object. This teaches them the basics of trick training and can be used to teach them lots of other tricks like kiss, hug and fetch. I like to use a target. Here’s a video I made about this: http://youtu.be/A_kyklhfbxs
      Happy tricks!
      Jain, Trigger & Bella

  11. Beth Wilkinson says

    Hi, you keep talking about your ebooks but i cant find them!! Where can i get them from? Thanks

  12. Chloe says

    I just signed up to your Weekly Training tips! I can’t wait!
    Also, how can I get a copy of your trick training booklet? :)
    Ellie and I have just started liberty work and she’s been going AMAZING! So far she can copy my leg movement when I paw and step up onto a block just by me tapping it! Can’t wait to see how much further she will go!

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Hi Chloe & Ellie,

      Welcome :)

      That’s really good that you are working at liberty. I like to do most of my tricks like that because then I know that Trigger & Bella really want to be there :)

      It’s also wonderful that she is copying your movements – that shows that she is really in-tune with you and you have a good relationship.

      The Horse Trick Training ebook is available from the product page on this website:
      http://www.horsetricks101.com/horse-training-products/ It covers the basics of getting started with trick training.

      I would love to hear about your progress.

      Happy tricks!

      Jain, Trigger & Bella.

  13. ahmet says

    Hi jain, trigger & bella

    First of all i appreciate that you are sharing your knowledge and your experience!

    I have an foal and he is 3 months old, and we are very connected from a month. His name is rüzgar (wind). First 2 months his mother didint want me near them. But from a month we are very fine and well connected.

    I taught him kiss and come to me when i whistle. But he is beware still. I wonder when he will be confortable with me and when can i start to train well him?

    Finally we have a little bite and kick problem. How can i teach him that its bad attitudes?

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    ahmet & ruzgar

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Hi Ahmet and Ruzgar,

      That’s wonderful that you’ve taught Ruzgar to kiss and come to you :)

      You want to build on that relationship but also let him know what is not allowed (biting, kicking etc). It can be hard to find a good balance between teaching horses about good behavior and not scaring them or causing problems. For example I disagree with hitting a horse on the nose if they try to bite – that just makes them head shy.

      It also depends on the horse. I could jump up and down and scream at Trigger and he would look at me as if to say “crazy lady!” but wouldn’t be scared in the least. (Not that I need to do this, he is a real gentleman and very well behaved). Other horses, like Bella, are sensitive and if I even growl at her she gets worried.

      Usually if a horse does something I don’t like (and it’s usually just because they are trying to play or don’t know the rules yet) then I will start by just growling at them. I will usually just say “arrrgggghhhhh” in a stern voice. If they need a bit more correction then I find that clapping my hands is effective. Do it just once softly and if that doesn’t have any effect then clap louder.

      It’s also a really good to think about things that you can teach him that won’t allow him to bite. For example if there are certain situations where he likes to try and nip then teach him that he only gets a treat or pat if he turns his head away from you.

      All the best with the training. I would love to hear about your progress.

      Jain, Trigger and Bella.

  14. Emily says

    I have an 8 year old Standardbred mare who I’ve tried working with on teaching her a few tricks to give her a break from the rodeos access she’s just not interested in anything I do. She’d much rather eat grass and sniff around the round pen or talk to the other horses. Is there something I can do to catch her attention?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Horse Tricks 101 says

      Hi Emily,

      Some horses aren’t used to playing or doing tricks with people. They can be very good at their jobs but don’t really know how to interact with us like this. She might need to learn that there are other things she can do with people. You could try getting her attention by introducing her to interesting toys or objects. (For example balls).

      You might also like to find a treat that she really, really, really likes :) Try things like baked biscuits or fruit and see if there is something that she is really keen to eat. Then try teaching her a very simple trick like touching the ball using her favorite treat. Once she gets the idea she will become more and more keen to try this new training with you.

      Have fun and let us know how you go :)


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