August 6th, 2012 Leave a commentSign Up Go to comments

How to Train a Better Trail Horse with these Steps

by Wendy Karolczyk

A good trail horse

A horses view of the trail

A common goal for all trail riders is to have a peaceful, pleasant ride. This is not always possible if your horse consistently spooks or bolts from objects. A good trail horse will not come unglued if your hat goes flying off into the wind and will allow his rider to put on (or take off) a slicker.

Building a better trail horse starts at home with slickers and hats!

Step one:
Start on the ground with your horse in hand. Slowly pick up a slicker and shake it lightly. Your horse may quickly move away, perhaps snort, and generally show fear.  At this point, quietly move forward and allow your horse to smell the slicker. After your horse feels comfortable, begin to slowly move the slicker over his entire body, starting on the neck.

After your horse feels relaxed with the slicker moving over his body, slowly raise it up above his head.  Your horse may show fear again and attempt to back away. Calm his fears by the rubbing the slicker over  his body and try again.  This area is particularly important as some horses show more fear when objects are raised above their head. Ultimately, you want your horse feel at ease as the slicker is raised up and rubbed around his ears and face.

Repeat these steps using a hat in place of a slicker.

Your horse should stand quietly, without fear as you rub these objects over his body and face.

Step Two:
With your horse still in hand, start to move the slicker outward from his body and shake it lightly. If your horse backs away, allow him to smell the slicker and repeat step one until he stands quality.  Each time your horse stands calmly, move the slicker outward and shake it — shake lightly at first and then more vigorously. Now raise the slicker above it his head and shake gently allowing it to touch his face and ears.  Repeat this until your horse is becomes relaxed with the movement of the slicker around his head and body.

Next, toss the slicker to the ground so it lands near his feet.  If your horse shows fear, once again allow them to smell the slicker, rub it over his body, shake and then toss it again. Continue to the toss the slicker around your horse’s body until they stand quietly.

Repeat these steps using a hat in place of a slicker.

Step Three:
Mounted on your horse with the slicker in hand, very slowly move the it over his neck , sides, and rear. After he stands quietly, move the slicker toward his ears, lean forward and rub them lightly. If your horse shows fear, slowly move the slicker over his body and try again.

Next, slowly put the slicker on and move around in the saddle allowing it to shake. After your horse feels relaxed, slowly remove the slicker and move it over his body.

After you both feel comfortable taking the slicker on and off, lightly toss it to the ground while still mounted in the saddle. Repeat this over and over until your horse is becomes relaxed with the slicker being tossed to the ground at various points around his body. If he moves away, start again by moving the slicker around his body and try again.

Repeat these steps using a hat in place of a slicker.

Desired result:
Your horse should stand quietly at ease while you continually rub, shake and toss a slicker and hat around his body and head.  These are important step toward building a trusting relationship and a better trail horse.

Wendy Karolczyk
I have trained and shown horses in western pleasure, reining, cutting, barrel racing, western riding, jumping and working hunter. My father, a lifelong trainer and breeder, was my mentor and greatest supporter. Our family has raised great champions through the years and sharing my knowledge is now a passion!

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