The Growing Popularity of Horse Training
Why Horse Training is Popular and Necessary
In recent years, many scholars have adopted the hypothesis that the Botai people and other inhabitants of the Eurasian Steppes became the first people to tame the wild horse, Equus Ferus, between 4000 and 6000 years ago. Near the beginning of the Iron Age, around 800 BC, inhabitants of Central Asia began to ride horses as opposed to having them just pull carts and wagons, which required a different type of training.
We have come a long way since these rudimentary forms of horse training, and today there are a multitude of disciplines for which horses are trained. Beyond working, transport, and riding, horses are trained in dressage, racing, and even equine therapy.
Defining Horse Training
Horse training is a blanket term which refers to a variety of practises that teaches horses to perform certain behaviours or tasks when instructed to do so by a human. Horses are trained to be more manageable by humans for everyday care, as well as for equestrian activities such as dressage, horseracing, and therapeutic horse riding for individuals with disabilities.
While horses were once only used for warfare, farm work, sport, and transport, today horse training encompasses practises which make horses useful for a variety of recreational and sporting equestrian pursuits. Discipline specific training such as stunt work, police work, and crowd control activities are also highly popular.
The Goal of Horse Training
The first goal of any type of horse training is to develop a horse that is safe for humans to handle and under most circumstances to be able to perform a useful task for the benefit of humans, such as horse racing to eventually feature on top NZ betting sites! No matter which school of training or discipline chosen, a few specific considerations and an in-depth knowledge of equine behaviour allows horse trainers to be effective.
- Safety is of paramount importance: horses are much larger and stronger than humans so they must be taught behaviours that will not injure people
- The psychology of horses differ greatly from that of humans, and as such the human has the responsibility to help a horse understand the goals of a human trainer
- Horses are social herd animals and if treated with respect will return that respect and follow a human leader
- Horses must be trained to not rely solely on instinctual fight or flight responses and to instead trust their human leader to respond appropriately
Stages of Horse Training
No matter the goal of the training, all horses must go through a specific series of steps on their way to being ‘finished’ animals or before being given a specific discipline.
Training of foals and younger horses: Foals should be handled by humans at birth or within the first few days of life to normalise the activities they will see throughout their lives, such as being touched all over, picking up its feet, and getting used to the human voice.
Ground training: Basic skills need to be imparted to horses that are still too young to be ridden such free longeing, leading, desensitisation, and being introduced to a saddle, bridle, and harness.
Backing or riding the young horse: When a horse is first ridden or ‘backed’ varies considerably depending on the breed or discipline used, but most thoroughbred race horses have small, light riders on their backs as early as the fall of their yearling year, while most horses can be ridden from two to three years of age.