Chapter 6 : Training the Horse to Know Voice Commands

For those of you who are inexperienced, voice commands for the horse is nothing but words, but to the horse they are only sounds. Because horses cannot speak our language, you will need to stop and think about what you will say to your horse when you want a certain reaction from him.

As an example, we are going to look at the word “whoa”.  This is probably the most abused word in horse language.  The “whoa” command to the horse should tell the horse to stop. Unfortunately there are many riders who use the word “whoa” to make the horse slow down, and not stop.  The horse will then become conditioned to slow down instead of stop when he hears “whoa”.  The rider then thinks he has a stupid horse because the horse won’t stop when he says “whoa”.  When actually it is the rider/trainers fault.

If you tell the horse a command that means one thing and you want the horse to do another, basically you are lying to your horse. Lying to your horse will not get you what you want from him.  So the best policy is to never lie to your horse.  This means when you say “whoa” you intend the horse to stop and not to slow down.

When using voice commands you want to use simple words with as few syllables as possible.  So if you want to your horse to back up then you would say “back”.  If you want your horse to walk, then you will say, “walk”.  You get the idea.

When you are using a voice command associate an action with the voice command.  If you want to teach your horse to gallop, then when are in the round pen you will use one of your aids to teach him to gallop.  You say the word “gallop” then you will bring in your aid to motivate your horse to a higher speed.

To teach your horse to walk, you will turn the opposite direction in the round pen and walk.  If he goes to fast tell him to “walk” to have him go slower.  Also by making a very slight move to the front of him to show him to go slower.  After he has walked around the pen a few times, then you will want to stop and pet him. 

You must also be careful when you talk to your horse. Don’t use the voice commands in a threatening tone of voice or by yelling a command.  You will scare and confuse your horse and increase his heart rate. He may take longer to train.

“Step” is a popular command to teach a horse.  You use this command to make the horse move forward, to take a step.  Don’t yell the command at your horse because your horse may take it as a punishment, and it may take longer for the horse to understand what it is you want him to do.

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