Dear Mark,

I have read a lot of your advice regarding the training of horses and in doing so, noticed that you frequently mention sending the horse to a professional trainer. I just bought a one year old quarter horse and for several reasons do not want to send him to a professional. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and capable of learning and would like to ask for your help. Please share with me some ideas or concepts that I can use to start him. What are the steps I should follow and when should I complete them? In other words, how old should he be at each step? Also please let me know what books or tapes are available that would explain each of the steps in detail.

Thank you for your time and skill. Carli Boston


Hi Carli, you questions are not easy to answer because training horses does not come with an owners manual, or pass some sort of correspondence course, or attend some sort of natural horsemanship clinic where you buy all ten tapes and all of a sudden you are qualified. The reason I always advise people to get help with their horses from QUALIFIED trainers is because what we do comes from countless years of experience, schooling, apprenticing, and the kind of knowledge and horsemanship talents and abilities that can not be duplicated by reading a book or buying hundreds of dollars of do it yourself tapes.

There are more bad, and I mean really bad trainers out there than there are good ones. However there are ways to do your research and find the right one for you. Stop by their facilities, watch them ride, talk with other people, look at their accomplishments, do they belong in any professional breed or horseman associations. Doing your research for a trainer is as important as finding the right doctor, builder, plumber, electrician, lawyer or any other professional. There are many clinicians that use the “do it yourself and save money and do not go to the mean old trainer method”.

This sells tapes, people will go to these clinics and they are told what they want to hear. I am not saying that all clinicians are this way, because I also give clinics around the country. Much can be learned from clinics, tapes, books, etc. However, this cannot replace the actual ability to get the job done correctly and safely. I have seen way too many people get hurt and hauled away in ambulances and airevacs by starting their own horses, and this is why I have taken this position.

I would like to help you with your situation for starting a colt, but if I post it on this site, I would have to write a book. Western Horseman has good books on starting colts, but nothing can replace finding real qualified professional help. The main thing here to remember is be safe and DO NOT GET HURT. I have seen way too many accidents that could have been avoided. You are probably not hearing what you want to hear from me, but it is my opinion.

Thanks for writing and good luck with your project.