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Training horses not to pull back

I hope you can help. I recently bought a one year old Shire with a wonderfully docile and affectionate temperament. I am a complete beginner when it comes to horses and the lady I got him from is teaching me. I want to learn the "natural horsemanship" way and I'm pretty sure that's not what she's doing.

For, she was "breaking him to stand". He was tied up by a bungee cord to halter in a round pen. He, of course, pulled back and looked afraid. We just waited until he gave in and then he was rewarded with a snack. Was there a better way to do this without frightening the horse?

I'm trying quickly to find natural horsemanship training tips, but will damage be done that I can't undo if the other way of training continues?

Should I just stop training the horse until I can get some lessons? Would love to attend a course, but need some basics now. Is there a book? What do you suggest?

Thanks for your time,


Hi Denise,

Actually, with a few changes in what you describe, this lady's technique is valid. In order to turn fear to trust (release fear), frequently the fear has to be experienced to be able for the individual to move thru it. If she was able to set it up so the horse could pull back without injuring himself, he comes forward after a bit of struggle (again with no injury) and then realizes there is was no danger and gets rewarded for standing quietly, it is an OK technique.

Horses are physical. They bump, bit and kick each other frequently. When afraid they try to get away and do it with the utmost energy they have. This is survival. Once a horse has been scared enough to pull away when it feels it is caught (tied), there is little to do to bring it back to feelings of safety and trust without it first experiencing its fear in order to move thru it. This is the nature of bringing fear to trust. We all have to experience what we are afraid of to understand that we need not be afraid. All the talk in the world will not do it. It is something we have to feel to learn. It is the same for the horse. They learn experientially.

Sounds like your trainer has some knowledge by the technique you have described. Pulling back is a dangerous habit for both horse and human. It needed correction. Please keep me posted as to other things she is trying and other problems your horse may have. For now though, I would say she is on the right track and so are you.

I have several DVD's and tapes of seminars of mine that address exactly what you are looking to find. If you are interested, please let me know. I can provide you with descriptions and prices if you are interested. Thanks again for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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