Train Them and Trust Them

I don’t know where I saw this phrase, “Train them and then trust them,” but it resonates with me about working with a horse on many different levels.

The same is true about ourselves. When we put in long hours of training on a specific skill that’s given us trouble, if we’ve truly done our homework, when the rubber meets the road, we need to trust ourselves.

That’s what this video is all about.


As horse people, we spend our entire lives trying to learn about our horses and develop our skills.

Sometimes in the “skill development” area, we get carried away and think we need to keep drilling our horses where they’re actually fine! The real challenge is we’re unsure about what we’re doing.

While our horse or we might’ve had a weakness in a spot, once we (or they) “got it,” then, on any given day, ideally, we go over it a time or two, but then it’s time to trust ourselves and our horse.

Train them and trust them.

If we keep asking a horse to repeat well-done behaviors over and over, one of two things can happen:

  • Our horse gets confused or discouraged, or their response worsens because they’re unsure what we want them to do. They’re never rewarded by pausing, breathing, and then moving on to something else. Horses crave comfort and safety; their ultimate reward is waiting and then letting them relax – I’m talking about really letting them down.
  • Our horse doesn’t learn to trust that we will reward them. For example, when a horse knows you will release them (for even the slightest try or accurate behavior) and then you pause, let them lick and chew, and take a deep breath, every time you ask them for a move, they eagerly look for the response (the ‘answer’) to what you want in everything you do. They trust you will let them know when they get it right. When you never pause and relax after a correct response, they don’t let down all the way. They stay somewhat on guard and can feel a lot (or a little) on edge most of the time.

Train them and then trust them.

Do the same for yourself. Practice accurately and then trust yourself.

Trust is beautiful. It allows one movement to flow into the next.

Please leave a comment for me and let me know what you think.

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18 Comments on Train Them and Trust Them

  1. Kim on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 2:03 pm
  2. “Train them then trust them”.. what I know about training horses would not fill a thimble. But I started riding a “crazy Appy mare” (so she was labeled) that had no idea what slow and calm meant. No one would ride her. She languished in the pasture for years. So I said to her owner, I’ll take a shot. My only instructors were you and Julie Goodnight. The entire barn thought it was ridiculous but every time she walked calmly or did something well – I dropped the reins. We were done. Some sessions were 8 minutes long. She’s not perfect but after 2 years everyone wants to know how the gal who doesn’t even own a horse “trained one”. That’s not training. That’s trust! Thank you for all of your help!

  3. kathy on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 2:35 pm
  4. Perfect. train them and trust them. And yes indeed, it’s an across the board theory. Applicable to everything we do with others, humans and animals.

  5. Leah Smith on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 3:33 pm
  6. Love this! I have recently really begun to understand this and it a powerful training tool for me personally and for my two mares. Thanks again Barb for you wisdom!

  7. Linda vandenbosch on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 5:33 pm
  8. Oh thank you.. with recent upheavals , I really needed this reminder.. my horse has shown me this and we have developed another connection in our journey. Awesome to read and listen to ..

  9. Linda vandenbosch on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 5:34 pm
  10. A timely reminder .. so true

  11. Bronwyn on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 5:45 pm
  12. Awesome article, this is so true, we need the confirmation even though the horse is already there. Thanku for the explanation

  13. Emma Quinn on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 6:16 pm
  14. Oh gosh, I felt like you were speaking directly to me! This is exactly what I did a fortnight ago at a show, I was so nervous I did too much before I went into the showpen, then when I got in there my horse was over it! Thanks so much for this!

  15. Melinda Stevenson (Mindy) on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 6:38 pm
  16. This is so true for training herding dogs as well!! Thank you Barbra!

  17. Carolyn Knick on Sun, 2nd Apr 2023 8:17 pm
  18. This article was spot on for me. This happened the other day exactly as you described. Was working the flag and my boy was so good the first two rounds. But we went for a third time and things started to fall appt and by round 4 he just shut down. Learned my lesson that day and your article and video just validated it for me so clearly! Thanks Barb, I needed it.

  19. Tonya Holmes on Mon, 3rd Apr 2023 6:46 am
  20. This was perfect timing. I’m guilty. Of boosting my confidence through repetition my horse doesn’t need! Thanks again!

  21. Mary Kay Russell on Mon, 3rd Apr 2023 11:24 am
  22. Great advice. Sooooo hard to slow down, so hard not to drill. We all want our horses to trust us, but we aren’t very good at trusting them.

  23. Carol MacGregor on Mon, 3rd Apr 2023 7:13 pm
  24. Hi Barb, Thank you Barb for the important insight. None of us like to have to drill too much and neither do our horses!!!

  25. Ellen on Tue, 4th Apr 2023 10:32 am
  26. I know my Splashie will be so happy I heard this today! Doing something multiple times is a bad habit for me. Especially when she does what I ask the first time. Thanks Bard

  27. Kacee Casto on Tue, 4th Apr 2023 7:56 pm
  28. Thank you Barbara, this is a great phrase to put in my slogans book. It’s simple, true and applies across the board from horses, to ourselves to our children. The pause is so valuable. I often thought I could save a great deal of money on instruction if I just recorded his voice saying “wait, wait, for it.” Lol.

  29. Camille Abbott on Wed, 5th Apr 2023 7:47 am
  30. A good reminder to quit while you are ahead so to speak!

  31. Susan J Kumer on Thu, 6th Apr 2023 8:01 am
  32. Boy, this comes at me directly! I completely bored my horse to death until he wouldn’t participate this week at a lesson going over ane over a pattern. This phrase/video will help me put it in the forefront of my mind.
    Off the wall, I have a burning question Barb. Do you always ride Nic in a snaffle?

  33. Barbra Schulte on Thu, 6th Apr 2023 9:27 am
  34. Hi, everyone, and thank you for all the great comments. And Susan, I don’t always ride Nic in a snaffle. For the videos, it’s easy for both of us, and I usually do easy things in the video because I’m yacking – HA. The truth be known, I like bits fine – but they are not the center of my riding world. My favorite relaxing bit is a dogbone snaffle with short shanks because it has a little leverage but a super comfy three-piece mouthpiece that conforms to a horse’s tongue. I like heavy long shank bits with a port for showing a cutting horse.

  35. Terri on Fri, 14th Apr 2023 2:05 pm
  36. Love this. The pause/waits/down time are so productive

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