5 Training Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed
Are you looking to ramp up your training and make serious progress with your horse? Every job is easier when you have the right tools to help you along the way. These five training tools and techniques will help build a stronger bond while you teach your horse confidence and respect from the ground up.
Almost every horse trainer will tell you solid ground manners and skills are vital foundational pieces you need to have in place BEFORE you get into the saddle.
Rope halters are a natural horseman’s go-to training tool for groundwork. They are designed with knots specially placed on pressure points around the head and face to help teach your horse to give in to pressure rather than pull away. Rope halters will also give you more leverage than traditional leather or nylon halters.
Lunging is an excellent training method if you are training a young horse, looking to exercise your horse without riding or getting back to basics with an older horse. Before starting a lunging regimen, understand how to lunge and consider lunge tools like the Pessoa lunging system. While you can lunge with a simple long line and lunge whip, lunging systems help teach your horse the correct frame and encourage them to build muscles in their topline and back.
While this may be an under-appreciated tool, a lunge whip during training sessions can be one of your toolbox's greatest tools. They range from 5-to 7 feet long. You’ll have to use this tool with one hand. Pick a length and style that works for you so you can easily maneuver it during your lunge training. Lunge whips come in lots of fun colors, but be cautious if you have an overly sensitive horse. Light color whips will often make very sensitive horses more reactive.
Once you get on horseback, it’s vital to encourage proper form, so your horse builds muscles on their top line. They do this by lifting their rib cage and driving from the hind quarters with flexion at the pole.
This martingale style encourages flexing at the pole and jaw while you are riding. The great thing about a martingales design is that it is intended to be used until your horse no longer needs it. The idea is, you ride and train with it continuously, encouraging the correct frame. Then after a length of time, you remove the training aid, and the horse naturally finds the correct position on their own because their muscles have developed correctly.
Dressage cones are traditionally used to mark key areas in the arena for a dressage test, but they have many other fun training uses. Using cones and other obstacles in your area/ riding area can challenge your horse by making them bend and turn with leg and rein cues. Cones can also be introduced to your horse as a new, unfamiliar object. If you are preparing for a show, you can add sound makers or flags on each cone to desensitize your horse to noise and new things in their space. This training method will make them less stressed and less reactive when in a new environment.
Before starting any training routine, set your goals and time frame. If you have never attempted this form of training, we recommend getting a second set of experienced hands or a trainer to help you. These tools can be life-changing for some horses when used correctly.