Horse training is incredibly hard work, and many horse trainers and riders like you find themselves getting a little bit discouraged sometimes. It could be because you feel like things aren’t progressing fast enough, or that you’re stuck trying to figure out how to get your beautiful horse to clear that jump. But don’t let that get you down; even the best horse trainer in the world wants to toss her riding helmet to the ground in frustration every now and then.
That’s why it’s important to see words of encouragement every now and then. They’re reminders of why you’re doing this, what you’re already doing right, and what you’ll be able to do if you just keep at it with your horse training. And because few things motivate us better than the wisdom of experts, we’ve collected some of our favorite quotes from some of the biggest stars in the horse riding industry, as well as a few up-and-comers, too.
Anytime you need a pick-me-up, feel free to tuck your riding helmet under your arm and come back to this article. Here’s what the pros have to say about horse training:
“If you are only a student of technique, then the options become very limited. On the other hand, when you are a student of the horse, the options are unlimited.” – Mark Rashid
Mark Rashid is a renowned horse trainer who wrote the book on partnering with your horse—several of them, in fact! He’s spent his entire career authoring books that share his philosophy on how horse training needs to involve two-way communication instead of forcing your horse to do things.
In this quote, he’s telling us how understanding your beautiful horse better will open up way more possibilities in training than focusing on riding technique. The more you know your horse, the better you’ll be as a trainer.
“Learn from each and every horse you ride. Every horse has something to teach you, and sometimes you don’t realize what that lesson is until years later!” – Carl Hester
Olympic champion equestrian Carl Hester echoes Rashid’s sentiment with this quote. He believes that every horse can impart valuable lessons to their riders, as long as we know how to listen. Sometimes, those lessons aren’t even about riding in the first place; we can learn a lot about ourselves through every encounter with a real horse.
“You trust your horse with your life, and they're trusting you with theirs. It's a team effort—you have to have a certain communication.” – Zoie Brogdon
17-year-old Zoie Brogdon might still be an up-and-coming equestrian, but she’s already got a lot of wisdom to impart to riders. She’s absolutely right in saying that riders and horses trust each other with their lives; riding can be incredibly dangerous for the both of you without proper horse training.
Your four-legged partner also depends on you for their overall quality of life, depending on the food, shelter, horse grooming, and general care you provide them. They put a lot of their trust in you, so it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t betray that trust. Treat them as a true partner, and the two of you will go far.
“Every transition you ride should be a good one, because this is your foundation.” - Charlotte Dujardin
Charlotte Dujardin is one of the most famous equestrians in modern history, and one of the most accomplished. If you’re looking for someone to give great advice in dressage, you can bet she’s got an entire library’s worth of knowledge tucked inside her riding helmet.
Transitions are what take your beautiful horse from one movement to the next, which means they play a huge role in your overall performance. With good transitions, your horse is able to start and end each movement in proper form, and can do so as smoothly as possible. Get them right, and the rest follows.
“When you don't have a confident position, it’s saying to people you don’t believe in yourself.” – Robert Dover
Outside of being the first openly gay Olympic athlete, Robert Dover is a treasure trove of quotable quotes when it comes to horse training. He’s candid and opinionated, and backs his words up with an impressive track record in dressage.
One of his most quoted pieces of advice is this little tidbit on posture. Your horse isn’t the only one judges are looking at in competitions—you’re being evaluated as a team. Your riding form is just as important as your horse’s, so maintaining a confident position will go a long way towards your score.
“Masterful horsemanship is nothing more than simple things done with excellence.” – Pat Parelli
Pat Parelli is a pioneer in the natural horsemanship movement; in fact, he coined the term himself in the 1980s. For him, riding is all about the fundamentals—partnership, pressure control, and position. If you work hard at mastering the basics, all the more complex movements involved in riding become easier for your horse to learn.
“Horse training is not about fixing the horse. It’s about fixing your leadership.” – Linda Parelli
Pat’s wife Linda is also an advocate of natural horsemanship, which asks every horse trainer to be gentler with their horses. Some people believe that using tools like whips helps to fix wrong behaviors by punishing your horse whenever they make a mistake. Linda and other natural horsemanship advocates, however, believe that this method only teaches your horse to be fearful rather than trusting.
If you adjust your own leadership data-style to work with your horse’s temperament instead of against it, you’ll earn their trust and gain a willing partner.
“Punishment as a training tool should be obsolete. Your horse wants peace with you and he’ll adapt his life to achieve it.” – John Lyons
Horse trainer and author John Lyons feels the same way about punishment. His quote reminds us that horses are living creatures with thoughts and feelings of their own. Like us, they just want to be happy, and will do what it takes to keep things going well. If you can show your horse that they can find that happiness by cooperating with you, they’ll understand that following your leadership is a good thing.
“If you act like you’ve only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like you’ve got all day, it will take fifteen minutes.” – Monty Roberts
Real-life horse whisperer Monty Roberts developed his method of non-verbal communication with horses by patiently observing them interact with each other. In this quote, he’s telling us that we need to apply that same level of patience during horse training.
Rushing through training only makes it more likely that you’ll repeat your mistakes, and less likely that you’ll learn from them. If you want to get better sooner, you must take your time, pay attention to yourself and your horse, and patiently practice doing things the right way.
On being a trainer
“I think for those who unfortunately struggle with being bullied, don’t ever let anyone take your love of horses away from you.” – Mavis Spencer
As a young black girl who loved horses, Mavis Spencer saw her fair share of bullying growing up. Some people just treat horse girls as a joke, even though they’re some of the most passionate folks you’ll ever meet.
Her advice to riders who have to deal with bullies of their own? Remember the reason why you started training in the first place—getting to spend time with a beautiful horse. The teasing may get to you, and it can make you start to think that maybe horses aren’t worth the pain. Don’t let the bullies trick you into feeling that way. People grow up and change, and anyone picking on you eventually won’t matter. What doesn’t change is every single thing you love about horses.
"I train horses ‘cause it’s my passion. I could do a thousand other things to make more money, but this is what I love to do." – George Leonard III
Professional horse trainer George Leonard III keeps it real about the financial aspect of training. For the tremendous amount of work you do, you could be earning way more money doing something other than horse training. But riders and trainers know that no one can put a price on the incredible privilege it is to be working with a real horse.
No one gets into riding because we want to build our fortunes; we do it because it lets us get as close to horses as we can, as often as possible. There’s nothing in the world we would trade our relationships with our horses away for.
“No one gives me a clear round. I earn it.” — Georgina Bloomberg
Equestrian Georgina Bloomberg gives us the perfect reminder that any sort of success we achieve in competitions is the result of hard work. We have to put in the time and energy into horse training if we want to excel. It’s tough, and sometimes it pushes us to our breaking points, but being able to relish that moment where you and your beautiful horse become a perfectly coordinated team makes it all worth it.
Feeling inspired yet? Keep at it with your horse training, and your passion will take you far! And while you’re at it, make sure you’re training with high quality gear that protects both you and your horse. Check out our collection of saddle pads, horse boots, and bit accessories before getting back to the grind.