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Gentling Is An Effective Horse Training Method

Updated on February 22, 2014

Horseback riding is a relaxing experience to many people. But, some people do not realize that before a horse can be ridden, he must first be trained to accept a rider on his back. There are two basic ways that a horse may be trained: breaking and gentling. When a trainer breaks a horse, she believes that she must break the horse’s will to comply with hers. This method uses whipping as well as severe and rough riding methods before the horse is ready to be ridden. Gentling is a softer method of training. A trainer that gentles a horse believes that she can train him to be ridden without breaking his spirit. She uses a lot of ground work and gentle exposure to gain the horse’s trust before she gets on his back. A horse benefits the most from a gentle approach to training.

Gentling results in a predictable horse. The horse does not develop any irrational fears. Whipping the horse into submission through breaking often causes the horse to develop a fear of normal objects, such as a trailer or a stall in the barn. Gentling teaches the horse that he does not need to be afraid. The horse also learns to trust his trainer through gentling. Because the horse trusts the trainer, she will be able to do anything with the horse based on that trust.

Gentling is the safest method to use. Gentling is safe for the trainer because she does not ride the horse until his reactions are predictable. She first accustoms the horse to being around the saddle before placing it on his back. That way he does not become dangerous to be around because of bucking and rearing. She also places a weight on the horse’s back before she mounts. This way the horse can get used to having weight on his back without the danger of the trainer getting bucked off the horse. Gentling a horse is safe for the horse because he is not panicked over mistreatment. When a horse panics, he may blindly run into something and physically hurt himself. A horse panics when he is whipped and scolded loudly. He doesn’t understand why he is receiving punishment when he did not do anything wrong.

Gentling is a humane method of training. The horse is never physically abused. The horse is never beaten with a whip. Instead, he is treated kindly. The horse learns to trust a trainer with soft, slow movements. Also, the horse is never emotionally abused. Yelling at a horse only confuses him. This is why gentling should be used for rehabilitating horses with fears. When a horse has irrational fears because of previous harsh training methods, quiet, gentle methods calm the horse and he will respond to the trainer. Using a harsh method on a fearful horse can be compared to using a harsh demanding tone on a fearful child. The fearful horse will learn to mistrust humans because, in his eyes, they are mean creatures that intend to hurt him.

A horse trainer should use a gentle approach to her training methods. The trainer that gentles her horse has a friend for life. A special friendship may be formed when the trainer gentles the horse; therefore, the training lasts forever.

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    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 2 years ago

      Yes, it does. It is awesome that this kind of training is useful across a lot of different species of animals? I'm glad that your friends are using this wonderful training method! Thanks for commenting!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 2 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      The gentle approach wins every time! Now the marine animal training method using a clicker makes this approach even easier for the trainer and allows a totally positive training experience. Shawna Karesch wrote on this and helps Beezie Madden with training her horses.

    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 2 years ago

      Thanks for commenting. I hope so too. And those harsh methods don't produce as great of results. That kind of training may backfire on the people who use harsh methods because the horses are obeying out of fear, not trust.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I hope this method becomes widespread. Some training methods for horses are so harsh! Voted up and useful.