Life lessons learned from horse training

The Tao of Horse Training by Suzanne and Bob

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back in the ring, the cranky Tigger is now joined by Finny, a boarder guided by Amanda, a teen intern at the ranch. Under Two As One Ranch owner Suzanne Sheppard’s eye, the intern patiently leads the skittish horse around the ring. She makes several attempts to place a step block at the animal's side to facilitate mounting.


The first few times, Finny kicks aside the block in disdain and trots off. But over the next 20 minutes, Amanda repeats the process until Finny allows the step block near her. Ultimately, she gets a brief ride.

Shephard applauds and calls out, “You go girl!” She is praising not only the horse, but the rider. Amanda is back teaching after a mishap six months ago, when a fall separated her shoulder.


“We train horses to bring out the best,” Sheppard said, “But we also train horses to bring out the best in their people.” Graduates of Two as One have reported to fellow ranch owner Bob Jeffries a spike in self-assertion regarding careers and relationships. “You learn so much from horses that you can take to every other facet of your life,” Sheppard said. Meanwhile, the good-natured ribbing between horse trainers remains the same. Asked about her progress as a horse trainer over a decade, Sheppard replies, “Well, I have been training Bob for ten years now, and he’s beginning to come along. We still have hope.”

Here are some extra tidbits about training from the duo:

  • When you’re teaching a horse, also listen to what he’s trying to teach you.
  • Horses never lie. The truth is there. If you’ve done the work [in training them], your horse will tell you. And if you haven’t, it will show up.
  • Training is about applying pressure—and relieving it—to obtain proper behavior.
  • Your horse will take cues from you: If you are consistent, fair, and attentive, he will be, too.
  • An untrained horse may save money in the short run, but you risk a major accident on the first ride.
  • Let’s keep the fun in the competitions and cut back on all the high-priced, fancy costumes!

Jay Blotcher doesn’t know hay about horses. He writes often on a wide variety of topics for Hudson Valley Life.


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