Horse Sense logo 2

Just train my horse

Sometimes I receive horses to train that owners expect me to get ready for a beginning rider (them).

I try to communicate to horse owners that the disposition of a particular horse determines far more than the training. I communicated in prior columns that horse training involves finding problems and then solving them. A beginner’s horse is one that has very few problems to start with. It has a disposition such that it doesn’t get bothered with much at all. It might not have enough energy to be a very athletic horse, but sometimes it does. Horse breeders have been selecting for disposition for quite a while now, so there are a good number of horses that are fairly gentle to start with.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

Certain horses can gentle over time, but most horses are not logging many hours in today’s world , so that is generally not a modern option. If a person has a horse with a challenging disposition, I tell them that the training needs to go into them more than the horse. This is a good reason for the owner to rise to the occasion and become a better horse person. When horses are more sensitive to situations and have a tendency to overreact, then it’s important to train the riders much more than the horses.

This is a great comparison to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of us would much rather have the other guy change rather than us, but the most workable situation is for us to change and get better instead. The first point of the gospel brings this out when it demands that we admit that we are the sinner. We can no longer blame everything on mom, the U.S.A., the teacher, the dog or even our horse. When we admit we are the sinner, we can climb out of our hammock and get to work. We can actually get busy and do something constructive about it. This is why I can get so excited about true religion. It puts us into the driver’s seat to be ready to learn and get better on a down-to-earth basis, while at the same time we are absolutely convinced that we will be in paradise with the down to earth God in flesh “Jesus Christ” when we die. True religion has always risen to the occasion when others were too lazy, scared, mad, sad or whatever.

Famous horseman, Pat Parelli, would say, “People want me to train their horses to put up with their inadequacies. Frankly, I will not even try to do it anymore!”

My worst situation like this involved a very overweight woman who wanted me to train a horse for her. It was not a very gentle horse to start with, and the owner could barely lift her leg a foot off the ground, let alone over a horse’s back. I should have told her from the very beginning that it would be an impossible situation unless she did some serious “biggest loser workouts.” I never had any serious issues with the horse while I put 30 hours of training on him. But the horse did not do well with anyone related to the owner. The owner herself physically could not even get on the horse, even with a stepping stool (probably a good thing). The biggest problem was that they could not be convinced that they needed any training (no sinners here!). The horse and I were the “heathens” and they could do no wrong.

My best situation involved a group of college kids from Campus Crusade for Christ. Their attitude was very open-minded and humble. They were all ears for listening to me about how to communicate with horses, and rolled up their sleeves and got to work as well. They are the ones that got me going back to church. They impressed me deeply about what true religion was all about. They were definitely not too heavenly minded and nor earthly good. They had a good picture of the mud, blood, sweat and tears that exemplifies Jesus Christ.  I’d like to thank Jon (a recent student with a horse), who rolled up his sleeves also.

The greatest thing about heaven, will be the humility present in the people who are finally ready to let God work on them. That is besides the horses and beautiful country.

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot trimming specialist from Raymondville.  Email: