How to Succeed in Breaking a Horse

Breaking a horse, which actually means being able to mount and ride the horse, is a long process that begins with the trainer instilling confidence and respect into the horse from the time he is a foal.  A foal can learn to do many things, although the trainer needs great patience. Repetition and rewards are key to a foal learning basic commands and learning to be comfortable around people.

A trainer can even use a very basic halter on a foal so that he will ultimately be comfortable with a bridle and bit. The foal needs to develop the ability to associate certain moves with certain commands. Just learning to be led on a rope is an essential lesson for a foal. Mutual respect and trust are also vital to the training.


As a horse matures, it is a good time to start teaching the animal how to longe. This is accomplished by having a rope, about 25 feet in length, attached to the horse and having the horse walk, trot, or cantor around the trainer in a large circle. The horse learns the trainer's commands and once again repetition is important. The horse should learn to stop, walk and trot on command. He should also learn to walk backwards. All of these techniques are good preparation for a horse being able to be ridden.

Longeing can also be used just before taking a new horse out for a ride. It reminds the horse to listen to your commands and, should the horse be out of sorts, you will be able to recognize this and postpone the ride.

Horse Maturity

A horse should not be ridden until he has matured and his growth plates in his legs have developed completely. That age differs according to the breed of horse. It is important to follow this rule, lest an immature horse sustain an injury. Although thoroughbreds may carry light jockeys at the age of one year, that is not the time that they are actually mature enough for an average adult.

Breaking the Horse

It is important that the horse is familiar with the bridle and bit and feels comfortable with them. Accomplishing this is a long process and involves introducing the bit into the mouth of the horse slowly and making sure that it does not rub and fits perfectly. Teaching a horse to accept the bridle and bit does not happen overnight, and you may need the help of an expert to accomplish it.

The saddle should be introduced slowly as well with the trainer first getting the horse used to the pad that goes under the saddle, if there is one, and then ultimately the saddle and girth.

Once this has happened, and the horse is well verse in your commands, it is time to ride the horse. To do this move, calmly put your foot into the stirrup and your hands on the saddle and hoist yourself up. You can talk to your horse as well, in a reassuring tone. The first ride should not be long, but be sure your horse knows you are in charge.