How to Softly Break a Wild Horse

By Brennan Bennett

Softly breaking in a horse is no easy task. It takes time, dedication, patience and most of all, compassion. It is important to understand the concept of fear---if you aggravate or scare the animal, it will not respond well. Be prepared to be bucked, kicked or even bitten at first. Wild horses have an innate fight or flight response. Use compassion and connection to bridge the gap of master and beast, until the animal learns to respond positively to your presence.

Gaining Its Trust

Oats and alfalfa are higher in protein than food in the wild, so do not overfeed the horse at first. Images

Direct your horse to a smaller stall in the barn. Gently make physical contact using Timothy hay, alfalfa or a bucket of oats as a gesture of goodwill. Remain calm and do not make any sudden movements.

A corral is an open space where a horse can see its surroundings.

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Attach a hackamore. Attach a rope to the hackamore. Put on a pair of gloves to prevent rope burn. Lead the horse to the corral. Do not wrap the rope around your hand. Be ready to drop the rope if the horse becomes skittish.

A noisemaker keeps the horse alert and can be used to enhance focus.

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Attach a plastic bag to the end of a long whip shaft. Use the plastic bag as a noise maker to keep the horse's attention while running the horse in circles in alternating directions until it is physically worn out. Do not frighten the horse, just keep its attention by shaking the bag in its visual range. Repeat daily until the horse is noticeably comfortable with you attaching the hackamore in the stall.

The horse needs to get used to small amounts of weight on its back before you attach a saddle.

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Attach a horse blanket with a cinch strap. Tie down all loose ends. Continue training the horse on the rope.

English saddles are lighter and have a more firm grip than western saddles.

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Strap on a lightweight saddle, but do not get on. Increase the horse's protein intake alongside the workouts, as you add more weight to the horse's back.

Be gentle with the brush.

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Brush and clean the horse at the end of the workouts. Look for ways to emotionally bond with the horse in order to give it a sense of security with you, the owner.

Riding the Horse

Using a bridle in the early stages of training may infuriate the horse.

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Mount the saddle outside in the corral, with a hackamore, not a bridle, attached.

Not asserting physical control may cause the horse to panic.

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Keep the reins tight; assert control. Use the same verbal commands as you did when training the horse on the rope. Keep your stirrups and legs tight on the horse's waist. Calmly reassure the horse with verbal commands and physical gestures of compassion.

A relaxing trail can be the bonding experience you and your horse need to build a strong sense of trust.

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Start with slow walking commands. Spend as much time on the saddle as you can. Take your horse on a trail ride.