Breaking a horse is a highly involved but necessary process if you want to ride and command your horse. You can break a horse the gentle way or the hard way, but the latter tends to lead to future disciplinary problems. Breaking a horse gently involves creating a bond with them and getting them to trust you; while it is very time-consuming, it can be a rewarding experience.
The first step in the process is to acclimate or ‘gentle’ your horse, which involves making your horse comfortable with the behaviors you will eventually teach. This process is best started when the horse is young. Training can be completed with only a trainer and horse, but including another horse and rider is advisable— this lets the green horse observe the trained horse’s behaviors and learn not to be afraid when you start introducing various pieces of equipment. Make sure to spend time brushing and giving treats to your horse as you introduce things like halters to associate training with positive experiences.
Halters should be introduced first so that the next step, lead training, will be easier. This should also be done with an experienced horse so that the green horse can mimic its behavior. Tie a lead rope to the horses’ halters, take the other end, and then entice the horses to walk to you with a treat. The horse you are training should copy your experienced horse.
When this is completed, you can acclimate the horse to the bit and bridle slowly, using treats and encouragement, and then move on to the most involved part of the training: saddle acclimation. Before you ever get on a horse, it needs to get used to having light, inanimate objects on its back and having things wrapped around it. You can also ease the adjustment process by brushing and rewarding the horse throughout its training. When it tolerates light objects, you can lean against it while brushing. Saddling is the final step, again made more straightforward by saddling other horses around the inexperienced one so that it is less afraid of the process.
After this, you can carefully start to ride the horse and teach it skills like moving in the direction you indicate. Always make sure that, throughout the process, both you and your horse feel safe and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to slow down or repeat a step. The most crucial aspect of breaking the horse is building trust; doing that will ensure that you create a deep bond with your horse and that it will continue to obey and respond to you.