Most tricks, even the complicated ones, start with a simple trick or are made up of several simple tricks joined together.
So start by teaching your horse these 10 super simple tricks and then use them to build lots of different tricks or even design your own!
For example to teach your horse to do a ‘Simple Bow’ just break the trick into small steps. First teach your horse to put his head down and then teach him to put his leg forward. Then just ask your horse to do 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 beginnings of a whole range of tricks.
1. Touch. I like teaching this one first. It is an easy trick to teach your horse and it will really help your horse to understand the principles of learning tricks.
Ask your horse to ‘touch’ different 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 fly swatter. This trick will help your horse to learn other tricks such as ‘yes’ and to perform liberty work. If you would like to learn more about targets and how to make your own then watch this video: TARGETS.
3. Move sideways (by just pointing at your horse’s 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 your horse to ‘twirl’.
4. Back up (by just pointing at your horse’s 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 his tail, or you can even stand behind him and he 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 your horse’s foot). This trick is the beginning of the bow and laying down. No more bending down to pick up your horse’s feet. The farrier loves this one!
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! 🙂
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 wait 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 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!