"Cowgirl Magazine" - Myths Western

It’s not uncommon to hear popular training methods online, at the barn, or at shows. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. There are many myths that have been circulating in the western training world. Don’t let your horse fall victim to these incorrect and potentially harmful ideas.

1. Myth: Reward the slightest try with a BIG release.

In most cases, it’s good to reward an attempt at something new. However, if you only reward the slightest tries, you’ll only get half the result. The horse needs to perform the entire movement eventually. You need your horse to understand what you want. He may not connect his attempt with the actual task.

Furthermore, the release should be subtle and not disruptive of the movement. You should be able to continue working after a small release without having to gather up your reins or compose yourself again.

2. Myth: Good riders constantly give their horse little bumps in the mouth.

Your hands should be soft and steady. You don’t want him to avoid or not trust your contact with his mouth. He should search for it and be comfortable. Little bumps in the mouth encourage him to get tense when the reins are picked up.

3. Myth: If your horse is strong in the mouth, then get him a stronger bit.

The best reason you’d need a stronger bit is because your horse’s training has progressed and he’s become more refined. A horse that is strong in the mouth hasn’t usually been taught to respect the rider. He needs to understand the cues and what you want from him. It might be time to do some ground work.

These myths come from people misunderstanding trainers. It’s important you do your homework before starting a new training method.