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The Teaching Posts provide valuable information presented in a fun and interactive fashion.
Bob's explanations of the correct answers for the Teaching Posts are at the bottom of the page.
To view other Teaching Posts, select one from the drop down menu below.

Lessons in the Teaching Post series:

Teaching Post #1
Getting Your Horse's Attention

Horses are not so different from children in a lot of respects.  If your child doesn't pay attention to the teacher in school, he/she doesn't learn what is being taught regardless of how well the teacher teaches.

If your horse is focused on his buddies or thinking about his next meal, how is he going to learn from you? Just how do you get your horse's ATTENTION so that you can teach him what he needs to know?

Note:  We always begin the work with our horses from the ground until the desired results are achieved; then we proceed to the mounted work.

Check out the possible ways that might be used to get your horse's Attention as listed below and choose the one that you think would work best. Results of all answers given by our readers will be tallied and posted. When Bob posts his explanations for both the correct and incorrect answers, we will add a new Teaching Post. Please be advised, we are attempting a little humor here.

    Please make your selection:
     [a] Give treats to bribe your horse for his or her attention
     [b] Hit the horse over the head with a two by four
     [c] Place a lead shank (chain) over the nose or under the chin and yank on  it
     [d] Use sight and sound stimuli to induce a fear response
     [e] Ignore the fact that the horse isn't paying attention to you and go ahead and start the lesson.  The horse will soon focus on you and you will have  his/her attention.

Answers and Explanations to Teaching Post #1

NOT CHOICE "a" because:

This will teach the horse to always expect a treat from you and most likely will encourage nipping which can lead to more aggressive behavior.  Furthermore, you can't be giving treats when you are showing the horse or if you happen to be out of treats.

More importantly, giving treats allows the horse to decide to pay attention to you only when you have something for him that he wants, such as food.  If the horse decides that the treat isn't of interest, you won't get his attention.

NOT CHOICE "b" because:

In addition to being abusive, by hitting the horse with anything (including your hand), you are picking a fight. If the horse decides to fight back, he will undoubtedly win because of his obvious physical advantages.

NOT CHOICE "c" because:

Although this tactic is often suggested, it more often than not leads to teaching the horse to throw his head as an attempt to get away from the pressure and pain that results when you pull or jerk on the lead shank.


This is only correct if the horse already understands how to do what you are asking him to do.  Therefore, if you put a cue on and the horse understands what the cue means and correctly responds to the cue, he now becomes focused on you.  But if you are trying to teach the horse something new, or if you are starting a totally "green" horse, or if your horse is simply "tuning you out", he will not respond to the cue and you simply become an annoyance to him.  When this happens, you have to go back to the Attention Getting exercise as explained in the right answer.

And the Correct answer is "d" because:

By inducing the fear motivator (attention getter), we immediately get the horse to notice us...hence we get his attention. We never hit the horse to get his attention, because by hitting the horse, you are giving him a justifiable reason to be afraid and to "hit back". For a fear motivator we only use the senses of sight and sound. You will know when you have the horse's attention, when he turns and faces you in a relaxed and non-aggressive manner and appears to be waiting for your next request.

Consider this analogy: The teacher in a classroom of inattentive students, doesn't get anywhere by just quietly going on with the lesson. Rather, a loud clap of the hands or a shout of Listen UP! is needed to get their attention first.  Basically, the same thing is true with an inattentive horse. You can use a short whip or your hand to hit your leg (not his) and the sudden movement (sight) and crack or slap (sound) of the hit will get his attention. Then we can proceed to ask for a small piece of movement from the horse and immediately reward the horse for his response with petting and kind words.

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