Train Horses for Work Situations
Training Horses for Work SituationsHistorically, horses worked on farms and served in battles - as well as being ridden. Withthe introduction of agricultural machinery, fewer plough horses were needed and the war horse is confined to the history books. Today, there are other work situations for these versatile creatures.
Horses for CoursesBefore a horse can be considered for any type of training for work, there are several things to consider:
- What is expected of the horse?
- Is it the right shape, size, colour and age?
- Does the horse have a suitable temperament for the work?
These points may seem obvious, but it would not make sense to select a horse fortraining, for example, as a Drum Horse, if it couldn’t carry the weight of the drums! The people who select horses for specific work know what to look for and can spot horses that have potential for the job in question. Some horses are bred for the work to ensure certain traits are kept.
Example - The Drum HorseThese huge coloured horses are used most in British Pageantry. They have to be a big breed, usually Shires, to carry the weight of 2 enormous silver drums, the drummer and all related paraphernalia. They also have to be exceptionally well mannered and even tempered,because they are expected to stand still for hours, with drums banging in their ears and the drummer’s arms moving quickly up and down behind them. With all this going on, all the drummer has to control the horse with is his feet, so he must be able to trust the horse to stand still! A horse that could not cope with loud noises wouldn’t last long in this training.
Fight or Flight InstinctHorses have a built-in survival instinct called fight or flight. To escape danger in thewild, a horse would gallop away. This instinct has to be adapted, through training, for the work involved (otherwise out-of-control, frightened horses would be bolting in all directions, causing danger to themselves and everyone near them). Horses are taught to remain calm, accept the halter and stand still from a very early age, through human contact.
For example, the inexperienced police horse, aged between 4 and 7 years, will go through a gradual desensitisation process during its training. This is to build confidence and promote trust between horse and rider, by being exposed to flapping flags, noisy crowds, being touched by different materials, and other external stimuli. Training takes several months and is never rushed. Good trainers appreciate that each horse is an individual.