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Gadget-Free Training

I'm not a believer in the use of fancy gadgets for the training of horses. I've seen some really weird things that have been used on horses. Virtually all of them useless or even dangerous. I do not believe in 'sacking' in any way, shape or form or any other form of training that results in the discomfort of the horse.


For centuries, there have been many devices used in the training of horses. If you work with horses, you’ve probably seen variations of most of them. As with any training device such as bitting rigs, crops and various whips, etc., there is a proper way and improper of using them. Unfortunately, there are a good number of trainers and horse owners that do not know how to use these devices properly. I do not believe in the use of crops, whips and various ‘patented’ bits, at least by those who do not know how to use them.

Crops, whips or any other devices should never to be used for disciplinary ends. I cannot even tell you the number of times that I have seen some trainers raise welts on a horses hide with a crop simply because the horse refused a jump or didn’t know what was being asked of him. There was no justification for the use of force (not even, in this case, self-defense of the rider) in any of these situations.

Recounting another incident that details the abuse of a training device, I have seen bitting rigs used to discipline a horse. One particular trainer that I knew punished a horse (for poor performance) by turning the horse out in a bitting rig. When the trainer could not catch the horse later that day (the horse was out all day without the ability to eat or drink), he left him out all night and most of the next day. This is why I do not like ‘gadgets’, especially in the hands of those who use no common sense.

Various devices such as elevator bits and martingales are often abused. Neither of these devises are necessary. These devices, 99.99% of the time, do nothing but conceal the ‘holes’ in the horse. I do not use ‘gadgets’ because I have never needed to use them. I know why and how to use these devices, but I still don’t use them.  

Right now, I'm in the process of writing a book on relationship-based training for horses and riders. With any luck, I'll be finished with the book by the summer of 2001.

Remember, be kind to your horse. Give him lots of turn-out time.

How many horses have you seen that are totally bonkers because they have been locked up in a stall for days, even weeks at a time? There are a lot of stocked up horses that need to be let out for pasture time. Don't let yours be one of them. It's vital to a horse's mental health to be allowed to be a horse.

  Page last modified 02/17/01

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