Horse Training

Horse Training: Teaching Your Horse to Back

June 21, 2016

Apply these horse training tips for a safer, more finished horse.

While horse training its important to be consistent and not ask for too much too soon Journal photo

When training horses to back, it’s important to be consistent and not ask for too much too soon. Journal photo

From AQHA’s “Fundamentals of Horsemanship”

AQHA’s “Fundamentals of Horsemanship” is a great resource whether you’re working with a green horse or giving a refresher lesson to your old school horse. Today’s exercise is teaching your horse to back up by walking to a fence, stopping and backing up. The only pieces of equipment you’ll need for this lesson are a saddle, halter and two reins.

Imagine your horse walking straight through a fence. Using your reins and legs to keep him straight, keep asking him to go farther until you feel his back lift as he can no longer move forward. Stop pushing forward and allow him to step backward.

Read the rest of this entry »

Training Exercises That Develop Strength, Balance and Self-Carriage

June 13, 2016

Mississippi State University teaches exercises to develop a horse’s balance at the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp in Slovenia.

By Kelsey Stangebye, 2016 AQHA international intern 


From left: AQHA international intern Kelsey Stangebye, Hannah Miller, Samantha Miller and Dr. Clay Cavinder

We had an #AQHAProud weekend for the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp at Castle Prestranek in Slovenia. The horsemanship camp was conducted by Mississippi State University; led by Dr. Clay Cavinder, an associate professor and Extension Horse Specialist for MSU, and assisted by MSU undergraduates Hannah Miller and Samantha Miller. We had an excellent horsemanship camp over a three-day period, in which, the instructors provided exercises that focused on gait transitions and training over ground poles. Additionally, the MSU instructors and I were so impressed with the members of the Slovenian Quarter Horse Association’s camaraderie and admiration for their Quarter Horses. We would like to thank the Slovenian Quarter Horse Association for their generous hospitality that they extended to us, and also for their awards presentation. (More to come on that below!)


Riders prepare for the horsemanship camp awards ceremony. (Credit: Sara Velenik)

Exercises to Develop a Balanced Horse

During the horsemanship camp in Slovenian, the MSU instructors explained how using ground poles and gait transitions can develop the horse’s balance, strength and self-carriage. Additionally, using ground poles and working on transitions is particularly helpful with training a horse that is heavy on the front end and/or hollow through their topline. The instructors explained that these exercises will also be beneficial for a rider to develop their rhythm and timing as they practice transitions and guiding their horse over ground poles. Ultimately, developing the horse’s balance will allow the rider to finesse their control over the horse’s body and prepare the horse for more advanced maneuvers; such as the lead change. Read the rest of this entry »

Shoulder-In and Your Horse

June 7, 2016

The shoulder-in is a valuable horse-training exercise on and off the dressage court.

Dressage exercises such as the shoulder in can be valuable no matter your discipline Journal photo

Dressage exercises, such as the shoulder-in, can be valuable no matter your discipline. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Certified Horsemanship Association master instructor Carla Wennberg with The American Quarter Horse Journal

I have two passions: reining and dressage.

People need to realize they’re not that different, though the horses might look different.

Shoulder-in is just one of the exercises that can be done with your horse to help supple him, whether you ride a reiner or a dressage horse. It works to strengthen the haunches and topline, and frees up the shoulders so the horse can perform higher-level maneuvers such as sliding stops and rollbacks, or canter pirouettes.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Is Team Wrangler?

May 24, 2016

AQHA and Wrangler have teamed up to gather a collection of AQHA Professional Horsemen for you and your horse’s educational benefit.

AQHA Professional Horseman Marty Simper of Ogden, Utah. Journal photo

AQHA Professional Horseman Marty Simper of Ogden, Utah. Journal photo

By Camille Graupman, AQHA Communications and Digital Marketing Intern

As a joint effort between Wrangler and the American Quarter Horse Association, Team Wrangler promotes educational outreach for the horse industry.

The 2016 team is as versatile as the American Quarter Horse, comprising top AQHA Professional Horsemen and -women, from across the disciplines – including halter, all-around, roping and racing. The AQHA Professional Horsemen Association is an organization of horse trainers who agree to adhere to the professional standards of AQHA and work in a professional manner to further its goals and objectives.

Team Wrangler members will be promoting the American Quarter Horse around the United States throughout 2016. This year’s AQHA trail ride in Eminence, Missouri, will feature an appearance from Team Wrangler member Marty Simper. Marty will be instructing the Ranch Riding clinic and assisting with the Trail Challenge.

Read the rest of this entry »

Selecting a Riding Instructor

May 10, 2016

Horse training 101: A good riding instructor brings out the best in you and your horse.

Find an instructor who can help you meet your goals, whatever they may be. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm

In this article, I will give you some suggestions on how to select a riding instructor to help you improve the skills you bring to the partnership.

Finding the “Right” Instructor

I stress the importance of creating goals for both horse and rider. Your riding goals should be based on an honest evaluation of your personality, expectations and riding skills. Once you have accomplished this step, you have a blueprint to help you select the right instructor to help you achieve your goals. Read the rest of this entry »


April 26, 2016

AQHA Professional Horseman and Team Wrangler member Dan Trein lends his wisdom on the moderate extension of the jog.

Brianna Tamulewicz sports a well fitting jacket in the 2011 Built Fors Tough AQHYA World Championship Show western pleasure finals on Dark Jasmine. Journal photo.

Effective and patient communication between you and your horse will result in more seamless gait transitions, like the moderate extension on the jog. Journal photo.

By Dan Trein in The American Quarter Horse Journal

What is the moderate extension of the jog supposed to be?

Simply what it’s called: It’s just a moderate extension of the jog. We put enough extension to it so that there’s a notable difference. However, with this gait in a western pleasure class, you won’t see the level of impulsion as you would if you asked that hunter under saddle horse to trot ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

Follow His Instincts

April 12, 2016

When training American Quarter Horses, it’s all about the attitude.

Martin Black

Any successes we have with horses come from communicating in their way. – Martin Black. Journal photo

By Martin Black

It is interesting to watch big cats and other predators stroll through herds of prey on the Serengeti Plains in Africa. A zebra may take notice of a lion, but if the lion doesn’t show any aggression, the zebra may continue grazing.

As long as the lion is relaxed and non-threatening, the zebra stays relaxed. But when the zebra gets any hint of suspicious action from the lion, the zebra becomes alert. If there is a sense of danger, the zebras leave for safer ground. If the zebras can’t get away, they turn to fighting. Read the rest of this entry »

Professional’s Choice: A Bit of Advice

March 29, 2016

This compilation of great bitting advice from Professional’s Choice is sure to gear you and your American Quarter Horse up for horse-training success.

 Ed Dufurrena attributes his new found improved communication with his horses to Clear Signal Equine Bits

Ed Dufurrena attributes improved communication with his horses to Clear Signal Equine Bits. Photo courtesy of Professional’s Choice

From AQHA Corporate Partner Professional’s Choice

Clear Signal Equine Bits aim to eliminate common bitting problems by providing innovative solutions and clear communication with our equine partners.

These bits have been designed to keep horses comfortable during work, enabling them to perform at their best. Read the rest of this entry »

Mind Your Manners

March 8, 2016

Your actions may encourage your horse’s food aggressive behavior. Here’s a horse-training tip to help:

horse feeding

A training flag can help you get your horse’s respect at mealtime. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Julie Goodnight

Is your horse cranky at feed time? Does he pin his ears, bare his teeth and stomp his feet? Or worse, does he grab the hay out of your arms and shove you aside? Read the rest of this entry »

Groundwork: Less Is More

February 23, 2016

We can take a good horse-training technique and run it into the ground.

horse training

Curt Pate works with a young horse on the ground. Journal photo

From America’s Horse

By AQHA Professional Horseman Curt Pate

Keep groundwork to a minimum.

By this, I mean, do what it takes to be safe, but don’t overdo it. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training for a Straight Lead Change

February 9, 2016

Changing leads on your horse is not about changing direction.

training figure 8

Photo courtesy of Bob Avila.

By Bob Avila in The American Quarter Horse Journal

For many years, I was no good at lead changes. I can’t tell you how much money I have lost by missing a lead by half a stride or dragging a lead by two strides.

Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training: No-Go Mounting

January 26, 2016

Tips to keep your horse standing still while you get on.

mounting pic

Become a better horseman. Photo from AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship.

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

Can you barely swing your leg over your horse’s side before he starts to walk off?

If you’re envious of those horses who stand still as a statue until their riders are ready, these instructions are for you.


  • To get onto your horse without him moving or becoming disturbed.
  • To have your horse “await further instructions” once you have mounted

Read the rest of this entry »