Horse Training on the Internet
By Don Blazer
The Internet is a wonderful thing, providing great information in a matter of clicks.
The Internet also spews out more bunk, bull and incorrect information faster than you can ask, "Who are these idiots rushing to provide so much bad advice and nonsense?"
Don't get me wrong…I love the Internet and the fact that it is open to everyone; I wouldn't have it any other way. I just think it needs a warning label: "Reader Beware!"
When it comes to horse training, the vast majority of information found on the Internet is wrong, dangerous and certainly not beneficial to horses. And the websites carrying such bunk call their contributors "experts." Certainly both the websites and the contributors are delusional about the accuracy and value of their knowledge.
Of course, the same is true for the "hot button" issues, such as horse slaughter, EIA regulations and wild horse preservation. Few accurate facts are ever given; plenty of emotional misinformation and myth can be found on most websites appealing to that special group of "kiss them on the nose" horse lovers.
Search for almost anything about horse training and you'll get 211,678 hits that will provide 211,670 bits of advice that aren't worth the time it took you to type in "horse training."
It seems that anyone who has even seen a picture of a horse is willing to offer their opinion on how to train them. While most can't give you the footfall sequence of a horse at the walk, they still consider themselves an "expert".
When I want advice from an expert, I want two things. I want an expert who has been there and done that.
Now some will say that winning isn't that important.
Winning is "everything," and the most important aspect when you are measuring expertise.
You may not want to show your horse. You may think that showing is just a lot of fancy horses, fancy saddles, fancy clothes and a ton of expense. It is that, but it's also a lot more.
Don't show if it doesn't appeal to you. But don't discount how much knowledge, experience and expertise it takes to "win" in the show pen.
You want to know how to train a horse: seek a winner for advice.
Winning on any show circuit (and there is a circuit for everything and anything you want to do with horses) means the person knows how the horse is supposed to move in any and every gait. The show horse trainer/rider knows specific maneuvers and foot-fall sequences, how to gain collection, how to change equine behavior, how to communicate and how to do the most to enhance the horse's natural ability; all of great benefit to any horse.
Show horse trainers that win are usually generalists in horse training, but experts in specifics.
They've learned that there is so much to learn that you can't learn it all, so it's best to learn as much as possible about a small subject.
Reiners train reiners, jumpers train jumpers, trail horse riders train trail horses, race horse trainers train race horses (usually choosing sprinters or distance horses) barrel racers train barrel horses. Learning all they can about a single subject is what makes them experts at that event. Ask them general questions about horse training and they can give you general answers. Ask them to get down to the nitty gritty and they can really explain what to do and how to do it.
Before you take advice from an Internet expert or super-star clinician (very few have ever trained a winner), ask the hard question which exposes the truth: what have you won that makes you an expert?
If he or she hasn't won it, he or she may still be a really nice person with good intentions…..the horse world is filled with nice people, but that doesn't make them experts.
And if you don't think you need answers from a winner, at least go to a winner for the sake of your horse; your horse deserves advice from an expert.