Training Tips: “Keep the Partnership”

The Partnership between horse/human is delicate and like all good friends you have to take time to really listen to what each other has to say, this way you learn to truly have a conversation and each party of the partnership can learn to enjoy and trust their friend more and more.

In these pics I am having a conversation with Big Storm. There is absolutely no way I am going, nor want, to argue with my friend but I also want to help him to learn to listen and trust me in new situations more (or even situations he’s not recently familiar with).

The saying ‘take his idea, make it your idea, trust together’ is the one that goes around my head all the time when with my horses (also with my husband and friends!




Stormy decided he needed to back off from something it was the noise of the stream going under the road at this point). I took his idea of going backwards and asked him to do it a wee bit faster than he was thereby making it MY idea and he relaxed and when I asked him to move forward he did so nicely.

I’d understood his point of view, took it, worked it and allowed him to change his mind and follow my idea .



Here I asked him to turn right, he wanted to turn left so I took his idea of going left and asked him to do it faster and a full circle thereby coming back to the starting point of my original request of going right which he did easily.

It’s almost a distraction technique by using their thoughts, allowing them to fulfil that thought and be free to take my request/thought more easily. With horses that have a strong will, which can also be a sense of worry, allowing them to have a say in the interaction you can dispel that worry about something (which would lead to a worry about you and your partnership/leadership).



The pics below show our 2nd ride from above and us going away from home and his herd mate Tara and we see a huge buzzard flying from post to post along a fence. I acknowledge what he has seen (pic 1) and then turn away from it to release any tension (pic 2). After a bit I turn him purposefully around using a hindquarter yield and go back towards where we turned the first time and the buzzard area and we go further this time and because we have more trust we manage to turn another way, over a stream and jump back all with relaxation, confidence and a good connection :














  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tips: “Slow, small things to try”

When the weather prevents us from doing more, or even small injuries when stabling is required, there are still small things done slowly that can be done to help keep our horse/heart connection and our horses minds exercised. Here is a list of things I do when our Winter puts a stop to big time play or riding, hope it helps you too.


1)      Familiarisation: 

Go nice and slow to start off, build up to more flapping but see what things you can rub on your horse and then around him at a distance. Try areas around him, high, low, in front, beside, behind and work on approach/retreat if something is worrying always releasing when your horse relaxes. This relaxation will get better as you work on releasing at the right moment, when he is calm and happy. 

Try things like: Bags, balls, flags, bunting, stick/string,  rugs, tarpaulin, cone on bum, feed bucket on bum, being near a curtain or going under a curtain or washing line (you could set up a curtain/line at stable door once your horse is okay with flapping plastic), you walking like you’re drunk to and around him, umbrella, rattles (can put small stones into a small water bottle), whistles, singing, fireworks (use a firework cd) saddle, bridle.

Can you take a saddle pad and ask for relaxation of the head as you slowly approach/retreat it up his neck…he’ll learn to lower his head when something is worrying on his neck and it’ll fall off over his ears rather than raising his head.

Can you touch him ALL over without worry.

Can you go under his belly….only when totally good with everything…a very BIG ASK.


2)      Feel game (touching):

  1. See if you can bring his head down for relaxation, work with your hand behind his ears (poll) or slight pressure on rope/halter under chin first. Does his head come up when you try moving your hand quickly near his head? Can you put a wee bit of pressure on the rope under halter to ask him to relax down when you do this, if he drops his head immediately then stop moving your hand for a quick release for him…this can help to train him for a response of relaxation if in a difficult situation.
  2. Can you ask for his head down with your hand over his neck to halter and bridle him. This helps to bring relaxation but also to help put his teeth in a good position for him to ‘take’ the bit himself and not knock his teeth in the process if you are bitting your horse.
  3. Can you ask him to move one step back to put his bum on a wall. Most horses are worried about what’s behind them so this can help you find trust in each other
  4. Can you ask him to move one step sideways to put his side on wall. This also will help with claustrophobia and trailer loading.
  5. Can you ask him to put a foot (or place a foot with your hand or rope around leg)  in a bucket or on a breeze block, on a carpet piece or on a tarp – just one foot. Once he’s done one foot try working on another etc.
  6.  Can you teach him to ground tie?
  7. Can you teach him to back up from his tail?
  8. Can you teach him to move forward with a rope around one front leg?
  9. Can you teach him to move backwards with a rope around his back legs? (good familiarisation with ropes around legs is a must and you being behind him must be in place for numbers 7, 8 and 9)
  10. Can you back him into stable working first with bringing him out, in, out etc.
  11. Can you back him out of a stable, working as above.


3)      Focus/Driving game (no touch):

  1. While keeping your feet still can you ask him to move one or two steps backwards and one or two steps over/away from you and touch a cone?
  2. Can you ask him to sidle to a mounting block. You can work on asking him to move over to a wall first as in the FEEL game. All of these are for just one or two steps, nothing big or fast.
  3. Can you half circle/squeeze him into his stable?
  4. Can you half circle/squeeze him out of his stable?
  5. Can you ask him  to back up one/two steps before putting his feed down?


Also think about getting one obstacle and working all the above with that ie: a plastic bag. Can you use if for familiarisation in all areas. Can you ask him to put his front foot then back foot on it. Can you ask him to sidepass over it. Can you ask him to squeeze over it and round it etc. See how much you can do with just ONE THING.

Maybe print this out and tick things off as you work on them and I hope that gives you some fun things to try out that are do-able in a small space without much movement.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tip: ‘How good is your Connection’

How good is your Connection to your Horse? and do you test it?

Can you connect from the shoulder, to his front feet?
Can you connect from in front of your horse?
Can you connect from the hips, to his back feet?
Can you connect from behind?
AND can you connect to all these places in walk, trot and canter AND from both the left and right?
Can you also do that online AND at liberty?
And can you then take that connection into your riding?

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy