Training horses to remain calm in uncomfortable situations Part 1: How do horses learn 2015-11-29T00:00:00+01:00

Waving flags, spectators with umbrellas, loud music and hustle and bustle at competitions - naturally, horses respond in such situations by attempting to flee which is firmly anchored in the instincts of herd animals and has ensured survival in the wild. In this video series, Warwick MacLean will introduce you to his training method to help horses become comfortable in unusual situations.

Riding horses today are expected to face all of these challenges with composure and self-confidence. But to do so, they need to develop an understanding of the situations and learn not to react by running away. So that the rider can train his horse accordingly, he must first know how horses learn. There are three types of learning in horses: first, habituation, second, operant conditioning, and third, association.

There are two possibilities to consolidate the success of this work, either by positive reinforcement, that is by rewarding for the desired behavior or by using negative reinforcement, taking something away, e.g. removal of pressure. In either case, consistency is key. The training method is based on working with basic exercises, such as backwards and sideways as well as standing still, this way the foundation for controlled and calm reactions from the horse is established.

Further videos in this series:
Training horses to remain calm in uncomfortable situations Part 2: habituation to objects & noise on the ground
Training horses to remain calm in uncomfortable situations part 3: Getting used to umbrellas

You will learn in this video:

  • How to train your horse according to his way to learn
  • How to use groundwork to help your horse stay calm at all times
  • How to recreate and work on stressful situations that can occur at competitions

Warwick McLean

The Australian combines his years of experience in horse behavior training and retraining horses, with his love of dressage, training and competing horses to Grand Prix. Together with his wife, he manages a training stable near Düsseldorf. He also assists with training the horses of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

> more

Related videos

Ingrid Klimke works with student Laura on correct use of the rider’s aids

Ingrid Klimke

The 5-year-old Saint Ledger has only just started his basic training. In this lesson, we concentrate on familiarising him to the rider’s aids and despite being in an unfamiliar environment, relaxing in his body and mind.

Duration: 09:08 Minutes

The school of Légèreté Part 1: Theoretical basis

Philippe Karl

Those who wish to understand the philosophy of Philippe Karl and his School of Légèreté should firstly understand the theoretical aspects behind it. The foundation of his teachings is harmony and balance between horse and rider. The effectiveness of the rider plays a deciding role on the journey their training takes.

Duration: 10:59 Minutes

The school of Légèreté Part 10: Piaffe and Passage

Philippe Karl

The desire of the horse to go forward, combined with bending the hindquarters is the basis of a good piaffe. Philippe Karl uses various exercises to teach his horses the piaffe and bring them into perfect balance. Every horse can learn to passage correctly when one sensitively combines the Spanish walk with the trot, something the world-renowned trainer has seen continually happen over the years.

Duration: 21:17 Minutes

The school of Légèreté Part 6: Riding in a double bridle

Philippe Karl

Once the horse has been familiarised to the effects of the double bridle on the ground, Philippe Karl then continues this from the saddle. He rides using the Fillis hold, enabling the use of the two bits separately.

Duration: 09:16 Minutes

The Successful Halt Part 1: Technique and Feeling

Reinhart Koblitz

The successful halt is the key to good riding and based on the aids coming together correctly. There is hardly any other exercise that is applied so often yet with so little sureness and knowledge.

Duration: 16:05 Minutes