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Your most valuable training tool

Everyone looks for a magic fix to ‘cure’ their horse problems. Plenty of people will sell you a ‘magic’ halter, stick, lead rope, bit or some other contraption, writes Neil Davies. 

Building confidence at the California State Fair, Sacramento, 1989.

Building confidence at the California State Fair, Sacramento, 1989.

None of them will really help. No contraption ever invented will teach your horse to be relaxed, confident and ready to learn.

I’m going to tell you about the most valuable training tool available in the world or any other large place. It’s free and I’m going to reveal it at no cost. Priceless!

It’s as simple as rubbing your horse’s head. Yes, give him a rub and show him that it’s always easy and pleasant to be with you. Your horse will learn that whenever he brings his head to you, it will be a pleasant experience. He’ll learn that when his head is with you, he can ‘switch off’ and relax. He’ll learn that you won’t chase him or hit him when he has his head with you.

Horses soon learn to enjoy having their head rubbed. I do it with every horse for their entire life. It doesn’t matter if he’s a few days old or twenty years old. If you can’t rub a horse’s head, neck and around his ears, he isn’t totally relaxed and confident.

In the slideshows above, it took some time before the foal was confident enough to allow me to rub his head and around his ears. It doesn’t matter if it takes one lesson or ten, it’s a small investment to make in any horse’s education.

Whether I’m catching a horse for the first time, starting him under saddle or re-training him, my first step is to go to the horse, rub his head and show him it’s easy and pleasant to be with me.

It’s pointless to try to lead a horse, handle his legs, tie him up, saddle him, ride him or do anything else if he’s frightened. Confidence and relaxation are the keys to teaching your horse, no matter his age or stage of training.

Take time to rub your horse’s head, neck and around his ears every time you’re with him. You can’t overdo it, so there’s nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain.  So what are you waiting for?

Fast forward almost a quarter of a century and it’s business as usual. Starting this mare under saddle. Bargo, New South Wales, Australia. 2013.

Fast forward almost a quarter of a century and it’s business as usual. Starting this mare under saddle. Bargo, New South Wales, Australia. 2013.

neil-daviesNeil Davies began training horses full-time in 1977. Over the next 15 years, he started more than a thousand horses under saddle and trained thousands of so-called ‘problem’ horses. [read more]

He is the author of Fear-free Horse Training – every step of the way.

Visit Neil’s website at www.fearfreehorsetraining.com.

Neil Davies

About the Author

Neil Davies began training horses full-time in 1977. Over the next fifteen years, he started more than a thousand horses under saddle and trained thousands of so-called ‘problem’ horses. From $100 backyard ponies to thoroughbreds worth millions, Neil has seen it all. » Read Neil's profile

Comments (1)

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  1. Colin Dangaard USA says:

    Neil Davies is without doubt the greatest living trainer of horses alive today. His understanding of this noble creature ranks right up there with Gengis Khan, Alexander The Great and Attila the Hun. Not only does he know what horses are saying — he listens! And he loves them.
    His greatness will live on long after he has gone. Thank the Gods of Horses that he wrote this book before the Universe punched his clock.

    Colin Dangaard
    USA

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