Essential Training, or Knowing This Paid Off

My horse managed to get his leg stuck in a feed bag that was hanging from the side of a trailer. It took what felt like an eternity to cut it loose from his hoof. He was calm the entire time. It got me to thinking that perhaps his hobble training paid off here.

Does anyone have a particular bit of training that’s stopped a sticky situation from turning serious? What are you thankful you took the time to teach your horse or yourself?

Glad your story turned out OK! I keep a knife right on my trailer door for exactly that reason, but I know how it can take an eternity!

I taught my horse “wait,” when I point at him when leading. This has helped many times when there is no where to tie but I am trying to see if we can squeeze though some brush or if the trail ahead is too dangerous. We just did this when I encountered a huge downed tree on a narrow cliffside trail. I knew I could go up and around, but I needed to see if the horse could follow. He waited at the end of the 15 foot lead while I clambered up the steep hillside, then with an OK and a tug he followed me up. Back down was slippery, so he waited behind till I said OK so I wouldn’t get squashed by his momentum coming down the hill (he mostly almost slid on his hindquarters!). Love these good patient horses!


Whoa as a voice command from the ground and whistle as a recall are both very useful. If the horse is too excited they may not work. But they have been helpful when my horse wanders away in places she shouldn’t!


I unintentionally taught my horse the word “back” to back up (obviously). It came in handy when on a group trail ride we ended up on an elk trail that went down into a steep canyon. I got off and led her down and she was back on her haunches and both front legs went under a couple of downed saplings. She waited calmly for me to help her and when I couldn’t lift them off I told her “back” and she backed herself up the hill and freed herself. Such a good girl!


Hobble training has been extremely useful with various horses here. They wear the hobble and just STAND STILL. Not allowed to “fight it out” with the hobbles. They might lift a leg to paw, can’t lift it far. Try lifting the other leg, no, still can’t paw. They work it out in their head they just can’t leave over a period of time to make it solid training.

We want horse to calmly accept the restraint, just stay put when legs are not movable. It has come in handy with 3 horses who got caught in wire, waited quietly for help. A fourth horse got tangled in harness, went down in a Team of 4. All halted in a sliding stop, while I as groom hopped down to help her. No fight, no kicking, just laid still waiting. I pulled a couple straps back into place, driver backed up the Wheelers to get her off the evener. I grabbed the reins on her, said her name and pulled. She hopped up, stood while I checked harness again and drove off quietly when I said everything was in place! Amazing horse, training worked when needed! Had to fend off the “helpful audience” while she was down. I yelled at some, who wanted to cut her out of the harness even though there were quick release snaps!!

Hobble training is a much ignored step in training, but SO useful as a tool to the horse his whole life. Ours are bred with a high quantity of TB blood, still can learn to be accepting of restraint. All the equines caught in wire (fighting over a single dividing fence, one broken wire on the ground) healed cleanly, minimal or no scarring (because they did not fight the wire holding them), went back to being sound, hard workers, winners in competition.


not the trainer myself, but boy was I thankful of the training my lease horse’s owner has done with her the other day when she managed to snuffle her way into having her muzzle caught on a bin in the grooming stall.
She started to pull back (while the bin was attached to her face!) and I said “staand” and she stopped and waited while I freed her.
It’s hard to overstate how helpful it is to have a horse with the sense to wait for help, and to keep waiting while being helped, even if it’s taking awhile!


neck reining is very useful

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I taught my horse to stop when the rider falls off, by fake “falling off” sometimes when riding her.

Years go by, and she’s older and being barrel raced by a couple of the neighbor kids (she’s just under the line to be counted as a pony, so great for the youth show type stuff). One time at a show the girl riding her, about ten, got off kilter and fell off at the first barrel. They sent me the video; my pony planted hoof and was dead stopped before the girl even made it to the ground.

Never been so proud of an animal before.


Wait. One step, stop, think. I was in the mountains and we were exploring what looked like a trail, turned out we got caught up in a boulder field. No way to turn around, I got off, stood on the rocks, used my reins one at a time and backed her up one step at a time until we were free.

I also taught this same horse to whoa by ‘fake falling’. LOL.


Hobble training is so great. Teaches horse not to fight when a leg is confined.

I also taught the voice cue “step step” when there’s something that needs navigating (steps, a down tree, irregular rock shelf) and he is encouraged to go on carefully.

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After scaring myself yesterday, I wrote an entire blogpost on this topic!

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Trust … in me and me Trusting her to take care of each other

My little mare was protective of me and I of her, we never got into any trouble but she often would look at me with a Question Mark in her eyes. Before tackling an unknown we sort of agreed upon an approach.

The funniest was when she decided I was lost, so I gave her free rein and off we went through the wilderness directly to the trailer. Once there she just look at me kind of saying OK you are safe now, She was not aware we were on a circling route that was leading us eventually back to the trailer. However Her route was much shorter


Clanter, your story reminds me of a story my husband told me about when he was riding back from a day ride and it was pitch dark. On the way to the trailer, the horse made a sharp right, DH, not remembering a sharp left on the ride out, overrode the horse’s decision and continued straight and ended up at the other end of the park from where the trailers were. After that, he trusted his horse to find the way. Horses have a great memory plus they can see almost perfectly in the dark.

I was riding my little mare at the local tree farm and there was this one wide space where she always insisted there was a trail there and wanted to turn towards it but I made her continue on. After this happened several times over the years, I finally let her go that way to satisfy herself. She goes down into the opening and comes to a wall of blackberries. She’s looking this way and that for a way through, couldn’t find any so let out a big sigh and went back to the main trail. She never tried it again. Silly goose! I have lots of stories about our exploits on the trails.

Horses just seem to know when they need to step up to the plate and take care of you. Another time, I was riding my mustang mare and we were going up a pretty steep hill. DH was riding ahead of me and his saddle bags came loose and fell off. He didn’t know this and continued up the hill. Even though my mare wanted to catch up to him, I stopped and picked up his bags while she waited, ground tied. I remounted and continued up the hill. I never taught her to ground tie but she knew she was expected to stand there and wait for me.