Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Difficult Mare


Hi Heidi,

I rode a lot when I was young and became quite advanced, however stopped at age 12 and have recently taken it up as an adult. 6 months ago I started again and have really enjoyed re-learning and progressing, and can now confidently walk/trot/canter at my local riding school and am beginning to learn to jump.

At the riding school we ride a variety of horses, and usually I really enjoy learning their temperaments and managing their different styles. I've learned I prefer forward, often bouncy horses, and am usually very confident managing the more difficult ones!

Recently I've been put several times on a mare called Star, who I find really difficult. She's very stubborn and doesn't even like being led out of her stable by me, and she always makes my life very difficult. It seems like I have no control over what she's doing, as she's perfectly capable of doing one thing with her head and quite another with her feet. Cantering on her is almost impossible; if I do get a few strides she cuts across the school to the back of the ride as quickly as possible. I'm doing my best to give her the correct leg aids, but she'll often sidestep or jerk her head forward if she disagrees. Basically, she does her own thing in the lesson, which makes it very hard for me to learn.

As she isn't mine and I only ride once a week, I know I don't have an ideal rapport with her, but have you got any tips on how to get her a little more responsive? I feel like I've come so far in six months and I really want to keep improving, but I just can't get through to this horse.


Thanks for the question and sorry about the delay.

To answer your question, I will say what I always say...  there is no magic in training and no 'tricks'to fix things quickly.  If horses are acting out or misbehave, 99% of the time, it is holes in their basic training and their foundation. the other scenario is that the horse has gotten wise and crabby and decides what it does and when.  I know this is not your horse.  i encounter this often doing trainning and clinics for others and within my first working or training session i just establish that i am in charge and essentially don't take no for an answer.  right  out of the  stall or  barn, if  the  horse is sloppy  about moving for  me, i insist  that they move.  When i see this, i will then do a leading exercise and reach back with my whip or rope  to make  them walk with me.  Please note - I will NOT get on a horse displaying rude or nervous behavior.  I have a much  safer and better chance on the  ground fixing this.  Affter leading, there would be roundpenning  or lunging.  If  you cannot make them canter on the  ground, they wont  likely canter under saddle and  may even  buck if asked to.  I always say when i see this "this horse is saying to its rider - whoa now - dont get confused.  this is MY  program and i dont canter".  That is how people get hurt. I also go back to the basics and make sure that their foundation is solid and great manners.  Then you should be able to do just about anything with them, including advanced disciplines.  there is a great deal of information and videos on my website about Phase 1 and 2 training on my website at no charge to you.  Take a look and start refreshing their manners.  If i were you or working  with you, you  would  not  be mounting this  horse, but rather  doing ground work for  several sessions.  I do  wonder if  your trainer is  very smart to make you work  with this horse and sort  it  out.  I fear that is not  the  case - not for  one day a week on limitations with what  you can do.  This is  how one gets hurt.  I would want to work with this horse  for several days (and  only me) to establish leadership and correct this behavior, or refuse to ride  this horse once a week.  Please consider this  so you don't get hurt.  lazy  horses buck and throw or rub people off as often as hot or  nervous  horses.  They think they  are showing  us that they are in charge.  Stay safe and good luck!

Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

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Heidi Herriott


I can provide specialized advice to questions regarding: +General/fundamental training methods +Behavior issues +Specialize in trick horse training +Pulling a sulky/cart, +Care and feeding +Traveling with horses +Mobile set up +Freestyle choregraphy and development +Animal Welfare issues. I am not well versed in competitive showing with judges and such.


I am a professional horse trainer and presenter with Thirty Five (35) years of horse training, riding and performing. Have expertise with miniature horses, ponies, mules, saddle and drafts. Ability to provide specialized advice to questions regarding various training methods to include trick training, training to pull a sulky/cart, care and feeding, as well as traveling with horses. Has entertained hundreds of thousands of people across the USA as well as performed and educated individuals on national television. I also host a website which provides Online Trick Horse Training through videos and printable manuals.

International Association of Fairs and Expositions; Outdoor Amusement Business Association; Florida Federation of Fairs; Showfolks of Sarasota

Publications;; USDA - Animal Care guidelines; MORE magazine; Showtime Magazine; Orlando Sentinel; West Orange Times; Fairs & Expos magazine;; Circus Report;; Animal Welfare & Education Campaign; The Faircracker

CREDENTIALS: +35 years of hands on working with all types of animals, specializing in variety of breeds of horses (i.e.: miniatures, ponies, standard and draft); +Animal expert interviewed on national TV programs to include: TODAY show, O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, Fox, and Good Morning America

Awards and Honors
Animal Planet’s “Pet Star” Winner with a miniature trick horse; Nickelodeon Figure It Out - winner with mini mule and trick horse; Silver and Bronze medals at the Sarasota International Circus Festival; Guest Master of Ceremonies – John & Mable Ringling Museum of the Circus; PTSA Volunteer of the Year

Past/Present Clients
Past/Present Clients, Employers and Partners----- Walt Disney World, Ringling Bros. Circus, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, DownUnderHorsemanship, Mississippi/Florida/Missouri state fairs, NC State Championship Horse show, Six Flags, Arabian Nights, International Andalusian Alliance, Women Luv Horses, Southwick’s Zoo, Richard Petty Farewell, Ringling Museum of Art, Texas A & M University, Land of Little Horses, Orange Co. Govt. TV, and more!

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