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Tips on the best places to teach your horse tricks

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WHERE you practice your horse trick training can have a big impact on how quickly your horse learns new tricks.  If you train your horse in an area where they are relaxed and comfortable they will learn much quicker and retain more of what you teach them.

horse trick ball
Introducing a new trick object

To really get the most out of your trick training sessions your horse needs to be focused on you and what you are trying to teach them.  The worst place to teach your horse tricks is in an area where they are unsure and constantly looking around.  A horse that is nervous and worried has very little ability to learn new things.  All their attention is focused on what is going on around them and not on you.

Try and practice your trick training in an area familiar to your horse.  I use a small yard that serves as my training area and is also the area I feed my horse.  He is very comfortable and relaxed in this area.  He is in the right frame of mind and he is focused on what I am teaching him – he isn’t worried about his surroundings.   Once my horse is completely accomplished at doing a particular trick I will then practice in other areas.

I find my horses are also happier to accept NEW OBJECTS, such as trick training equipment if they are in an area that they know and are relaxed in.  Sometimes I will introduce new things into my horses’ larger paddock; but only if they are free to come and go (no halter or lead rope etc).   This allows them to get away from the new object (their natural reaction) and then come back to it on their own terms.  I will stand near the object and quietly tell them it is all right and encourage them to come over and check it out.  If you introduce something new in this way you will find your horse will accept it much quicker and as long as he is never hurt by the object, he will become braver when you introduce other objects.

For example, I bought a large exercise ball that I eventually wanted to teach my horses to retrieve and push around, so I took it out into their paddock.  I started to roll it around and very quickly the horses were over to check it out.  They would get close to it then snort and run away, but they would soon return, each time getting more and more confident and closer to the ball.  Eventually, they were pushing it around and having great fun with it.  It wasn’t so frightening because they could get away from it and then check it out on their own terms.  Now when I come to incorporating the ball into my trick training they will be happy to get close to it and push it around.

The best place to teach your horse tricks is an area that you use already, where your horse feels relaxed and comfortable.  Because they will be in the right state of mind you will find that your horse will retain a lot more of what you teach them and it will be a lot easier to teach them each new trick.

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