Just like most things in life there are a number of ways to come to the same result. Training a horse is no different. If you are brand new there may need to be a lot of experimentation. You’ll need to find a method that you understand and can utilize. Then you’ll also need to make sure it is a method that the horse responds to. Even if you are an old pro at training horses it is always good to have an extra method or two that you’ve mastered. Some animals just won’t respond to your old tried and true approach.
There are a few things to consider when selecting a method of training a horse. The first is that for the most part horses want to please us. At a basic level if you can show a horse that a particular action pleases you the horse will be more likely to do that action. The second thing that you want to consider is what do you want out of this horse? Are you looking for a trail horse, a barrel racer or going for dressage? Just like training for a sport it is good to have your destination plotted when you begin a training regimen.
In traditional methods of training you will work with a young horse to first be willing to accept people around it and touching it. The foal will need to be halter-broken, or taught to wear a halter to be led about. The animal will also learn to be calm through vet checkups and grooming. After a horse is taught these skills ground training will begin. The horse is still too young to be ridden but more and more of the tack is introduced to the horse. This is laying the foundation for your horse to be ridden.
Finally it comes time to “break” or “back” the horse. This is when the horse is saddled and finally ridden. If the previous steps of the training where done well the horse should be used to being around people and being handled. The horse should just see this as a new lesson and learning something new. Some horses will not take to being ridden, some at first, and others at all. This could be from earlier training problems, but it could just as easily be from the horse’s personality. Some people will give up on a horse and others will keep trying to get the horse to be comfortable being rode. At this point the horse is ready to be trained in a specific discipline.
As an alternate some people utilize natural horse training. They claim that this method of training is more in line with the way a horse would grow up in the wild. The thought is that traditional methods frighten the horse into performing as you desire, whereas with a natural method you and the horse form a team to accomplish a task. However you choose to train your horse, be sure to remember that it is a living animal and not just a machine that does your bidding.