What people see when they look at a broke horse is just exactly that. Face value. What they don’t see is the hours and months it took the horse to get to be a riding horse.
It all starts on the ground. If your horse can’t do it when asked from the ground don’t expect it to understand it under saddle.
My horses are all started with lunging and learning voice commands. I want them to always have something familiar to fall back on when introducing something new. This is where they will find their confidence and they will be ready for the next step. Having something familiar while being introduced to something new makes sure they keep using the thinking side of their brain. If they have nothing familiar to go back to if they get confused their natural response is to react. A reacting horse is a blind horse. They go completely on natural instinct that is to fight or flight. We try our best to avoid that at all costs while training.
Everyone starts horses different but over the years I’ve developed a sure-fire way that makes horses “good citizens” as I call them. My horses are quiet, not spooky, no vices, trusting and dependable. It takes time to build a strong foundation but a foundation without holes is one you can trust!
I teach voice commands first so I know they have an E-brake if all “goes to hell in a hand bag”. They are animals it can happen. We can train our horses but we can’t train our environment so always be prepared and alert.
I then introduce them to the bareback pad it’s soft and quiet so they don’t get afraid of the new device. After that I tie a jacket on the pad and lunge them with the jacket flapping all over. The following week I use the pad and grain bag, then the saddle alone followed by the saddle and “tutu”. The “tutu” is a string of shavings bags that goes over the horn. This is a big fluffy loud tool that get the horses to something sloppy in the saddle. After the tutu I put the flag on the saddle this gets them used to something above the saddle. By the time I put a leg over my horses almost thank me for not being as obnoxious as the rest of my tools haha!
So take your time, develop a method that works for you. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you don’t try you won’t know. If a method fails then you learn. Failing is never a failure. It teaches us to be better.
Patience, persistence and a sense of humor go a long way!