Build a New-Horse Partnership

Trainer Katie Phalen shares tips for learning to work effectively with your new horse.
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Trainer Katie Phalen shares tips for learning to work effectively with your new horse.

Once you bring your new horse home, it's important to create a good relationship with him. These two simple tips will help you forge a strong partnership with your new mount.

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Incorporate lots of low-speed transitions and changes of direction in your new horse's early workouts; they'll help him stay focused without adding too much excitement. You can use visual aids such as cones and ground poles to add interest (and to remind you where you want to go, so you're more likely to get there). Notice we've gotten out of the ring and into the field as well: more fun, and a good transition to heading out on the trail.

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Woohoo! Out and about with a reliable buddy, you and your new guy can try all sorts of things. Be careful to select trail partners who will respect your requests for the level of work and play you're comfortable with. (When you're the babysitter, make sure to return the favor.)

Katie explains her complete program for getting your new-horse partnership off on the best foot in the April 2004 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. For more on choosing a good trail buddy for your horse, see "Best Buddies: Pick the Right Companion" in the July 1997 issue.