This is one of the BIG things that gets in people’s way and prevents them from being able to get respect and trust from their horse.

A lot of people think that if they firm up a little bit when trying to teach their horse to do something then that’s going to scare the horse and he won’t trust them anymore.

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But it’s actually the opposite.

For example, let’s say you’re on the ground with your horse and you’re trying to lunge him and have him go around in a circle.

You raise your arm up and then you might pull the lead a little bit.

And he just stands there…and doesn’t even take one step.

Well instead of just doing the same thing again and getting the same result, you could now add more pressure by raising your flag and waving it a little.

(This video is part of the Timing & Communication series on Horse.TV. Click here to get a free 7 day trial to Horse.TV and watch the entire series!)

Waving the flag would be an example of getting a little more firm.

And then if he still stood there, you could just kind of lightly pop him on the side of his shoulder.

That would be an example of getting even more firm.

And then if he STILL stood there, you could just continue popping him and adding a little more force each time until he took one step or did something different other than stand there.

Remember, you’re not looking for a huge change.

You’re just looking for a small change – something other than what he’s doing right now.

And always remember that the SECOND your horse makes the change, immediately release all pressure – stop waving the flag, back up, ease off, and maybe even pet him.

People don’t realize this, but being afraid to get firm with their horse is hindering their communication and their clarity.

You have to remember that horses thrive on communication and having a leader to follow.

You’ve probably seen horses in the pasture and noticed how they’ll nit pick at each other and sometimes even bite each other…and there’s always that one dominant horse.

The dominant horse is the one that puts everybody in their place, tells him where she wants them to be, when they can eat, etc.

But the horses are always still a herd and they still always follow that dominant horse…even though the dominant horse sometimes gets firm.

Don’t be afraid of getting more firm with your horse, but what you do need to worry about is that you ease off and go back to being really soft at the right time.

Because timing is the real trick to helping them learn fast and clearly.


Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship. For the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. He was often in situations where he either had to figure out how to help the horse understand, or it could easily turn into a life or death situation. Carson now travels the country putting on training clinics teaching people the fundamentals of Horsemanship. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.