Think carefully about which tricks you want to teach your horse.
There are some tricks that can be dangerous if not performed in a safe area and by an experienced person, for example, rearing or laying down.
Horses will sometimes, particularly in the early stages of training, do tricks without being asked. This is partly because they are keen to get a treat and they haven’t yet learned that they ONLY get a reward when ASKED to do a trick.
You don’t want to be out riding one day and your horse decides to perform his newest trick (without being asked) – laying down with you and your saddle on board.
Or even more dangerous – your horse decides to rear. Rearing is a trick that requires strength, calmness, and excellent balance from your horse. Your horse could do enormous damage to himself (and you) if he doesn’t get it right and flips over backward.
Consider if children will be riding or handling the horse. A trick such as counting with their front foot could knock a child flying. Or a child might mistakenly give a horse a cue to rear.
If there is a chance you might sell your horse at any stage think about how your horse’s tricks might be viewed by future owners. I believe that simple, well-done tricks actually add to the value and appeal of a horse, but some tricks might be misunderstood by some people.
I remember reading an old book that talked about teaching a horse to pull a mean face as if the horse was about to attack. Imagine if you sold this horse to someone, who then sold the horse to someone else that didn’t understand that this horrible face was actually just a trick. They would most likely reprimand the horse, which would cause the horse to become very confused.
Even worse, if you teach your horse to rear and a future owner accidentally gives him the cue to rear then this horse would quickly get a reputation as a difficult or dangerous horse when all they were trying to do was perform a trick.
Some of the safer tricks include hug, yes, no, pick things up, fetch, and smile.
So think carefully about which tricks you want to teach your horse and who might be around your horse. There are lots of fun, safe tricks that your horse can learn that will be enjoyable for you both and won’t cause your horse to develop a bad reputation.