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  I came in from riding one evening and my wife was watching a cooking show called the “Pioneer Woman” with Ree Drummond.  I sat down and watched while Ree took several different ingredients, implemented them into specific recipes, and the end result was several tasty dishes that made me very hungry.  A few days later I was working a colt and I started to think of all the similarities between cooking and training.  With cooking, the quality of ingredients is very important.  With training, the quality of the raw product that we start with is very important also. With cooking it looks to me like it’s all about how you mix/prepare the ingredients that determines the quality of the end result.  Now you could take Ree Drummond, Rachael Ray, and say Paula Dean and give each of them the same ingredients and they all may have a little different method of mixing and preparing the ingredients; however, I would bet the end result would be very pleasing to the pallet in each case.  The concept of training a horse has many similarities to preparing a tasty recipe.


          My Dad called earlier this week and this subject came up, Dad was asking me how everything was going and how the training horses were working. I was telling my Dad that in all the years I’ve been training horses I don’t remember a time that I enjoyed it more than I do right now. His response to that was, “That’s because you train so much smarter than you did years ago”.

That conversation got me to thinking about the evolution of my program over the past 30 years and how my time management has improved a hundred fold since I first began this business. It all goes back to that old saying


​​          I think this heading will catch a lot of horse owner’s attention due to the fact that we would all like to make our horses 100% better. This is a concept I got from a famous reining horse trainer. Just thinking about how much more you could win if your horse was 100% better than he/she currently is, or the thought of how much more valuable that animal would be if it were 100% better is pretty appealing. When you break this down through a trainer’s eyes it becomes quite simple. Read more...


          I often get questions that pertain to this subject from aspiring trainers so I thought I would put a few thoughts down in writing. In the past 25 years I can’t remember a handful of times that I didn’t have any horses in training for my customers. As I look back now it kind of amazes me that I’ve been able to survive and make a living as a trainer in the horse business. 

          In the training business your success depends completely on


​          The first week in June I had a horsemanship clinic at my training facility and then I spent the third week of June in Bozeman, MT working with the trainers at the beautiful Copper Spring Ranch. During this three-week period I had the opportunity to work with a variety of horsemen and horsewomen at various stages in their learning and development as horse trainers.

          As I reflect back, I found one glaring similarity in most of these trainers; in most cases more attention had been given to


​          This is an interesting subject that I feel is misunderstood sometimes by us humans when it relates to developing a relationship of “trust and respect” with our equine counterparts. “I just don’t trust him”, is a response I hear sometimes from customers that have brought me a horse to fix some training issues and students at my clinics who are encountering challenges with their horses. Once again, the harsh reality of a situation where we don’t feel that we can trust our horse goes back on us. Usually the reason we have a hard time trusting our horse is because our horse’s responses are inconsistent when put in similar situations, thus they respond in one way this time and a different way the next time. So essentially our “mistrust” is based on their inconsistencies. Read more...


          As I make preparations for a clinic coming up this weekend, I always begin to think about what the critical elements are for helping the participants to have the best opportunity to improve themselves, which will in turn improve their equine partners. I reflect on what I do daily in my program, and the three levels of exercises that I put all of our customer horses and our own personal performance horses through every day. However as I go through all the philosophies of my program, and all the exercises that we put these horses through to give them that rock solid foundation that we read more...​


          This is a subject that applies not only to competition horses, but it also applies to horses that are in the initial stages of training. I try to break it into two very simple  categories; 1) toning their muscles, and 2) building their lung capacity for air. I try to break our training sessions or our work sessions into 3 segments--the warm-up,  the work session, and the cool down. I think it is extremely important to have a good warm-up session to make sure your horse is loose and flexible and not locked up in any of their 5 body parts. We use our level 1 exercises for our warm-up and evaluation of how our horse feels that day. Then we go into our work session from there. This will vary depending on the day and the stage of training /conditioning we are at with that particular horse. Typically it will involve some or most of read more...​


​          I think that it’s just human nature that we spend the majority of our time working on controlling and communicating with the parts of the horse’s body that are in front of the saddle horn.  These are the body parts we can easily see and feel.  Early in my training career I did the same thing.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that to have complete control and communication with the front end of the horse, I needed to have complete control and communication with the hindquarters/ “Drivers” of that horse. The head, neck, and shoulders are the parts of the horse’s body that determine the direction we go. The read more... 

​          This headline represents what sometimes may hold us back from progressing as we should in our training. It is just human nature that we sometimes get in the habit of making excuses for our own subpar performance or our horse’s subpar performance. The good news is that to turn this around and start improving at a steady rate, all we have to do is take the reins back into our hands and get to work. This applies to everything we do in life not just horse training. The old saying read more...

© Articles courtesy of Phil Haugen Horsemanship