5 Horse Principles

There are 5 things best to keep in mind when dealing with any horse, especially one with behaviour problems:


• Horses are large and unpredictable. They use fight, flight, or freeze to cope with stress or perceived danger. Safety of human and horse is paramount when training.


• Horses need social interaction with other equines and require foraging and freedom. We can be seen as a threat by horses.


• Horses’ brains are different from ours. They think, see, and hear differently than we do.


• Horses can feel. They can suffer, and they can be content. They can become attached to us or be afraid of us.


• Horses thrive on consistency. Our end goal should always be that the horse does what we want it to without having to be constantly reminded.


Want to know what each of these means for your relationship with your horse?

When you sign up for lessons, I teach these basic five things to keep in mind, as well as five training tools (see this post) so that you understand why you are doing what you do when you ride.

Or, sign your horse up for training and you can watch as many training sessions as you like as well as receive a lesson when you pick your horse up!

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This information was adapted from the International Society for Equitation Science’s (ISES) 10 First Principles of Training.

5 Training Tools

Here are 5 principles that show how your horse’s mind works. They are the rules for how he learns things. I use these to retrain every behaviour problem that I get. If you understand them too, you will be able to keep your horse well trained.

Horses have to get used to perceived threats in order to survive. They can’t always be running away, wasting energy. We can systematically use this to get horses used to things they tend to be scared of.


Horses learn by trial and error. When the result of a certain behaviour is something they want, they are likely to repeat it. When the result is something they don’t want, they are less likely to repeat it. Horses don’t learn well from punishment.


Horses easily make associations. When one event predictably happens before another, the horse strings them together in its mind. These can be good or bad associations.


Horses get progressively better with practice. If they practice something we don’t want and it is somehow rewarding, they will get better at that just as much as practicing behaviour that we like.


Horses need clear consistency. They rely on the cues we give them, intentionally or not. They must always be able to tell what we are asking of them.


By knowing these things about horses, I can ‘speak’ in a way they understand. You can, too.

When you take lessons with your horse, I go through how these training tools work. When you register your horse for training, you get access to me during training to learn how I teach him and a lesson to put it into practice!

Register Now

This information was adapted from the International Society for Equitation Science’s (ISES)10 First Principles of Training.