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How to Introduce Your horse to Bathing

When training or just playing with your horses, it’s fun to begin each session with a simple trick such as the Smile. This seems to gets the horse in the mood to interact. Manna Pro Bite Sized Nuggets are just the right size to train with. Lady C is partial to the peppermint flavor.


Lady C is a very polite, accomplished trick horse that’s been trained using treats for over 14 years. It’s possible to train a horse to do almost anything with kindness, motivation…like treats…and a proven method.


Tips To Get Started


  • If your horse isn't used to bathing, take it slow to create understanding and a rewarding  experience that’s fun for both of you.  

  • BE sure to use a high quality shampoo and conditioner and even if you have a show horse, you won’t want to bathe her too often as it can strip the oils from the hair and skin. My favorite shampoo is made by Corona. It’s ph balanced so it's gentle on the skin and it really brightens her coat, especially the white spots and her tail. It leaves a natural and healthy-looking shine.                             
  • The optimum atmospheric temperature for horses is between 44 and 77 degrees F Its HOT here in Texas so cool water is perfect. If you’re in a cooler climate or your water comes from a well be sure to introduce it to the horse’s body slowly. Really cold water can be quite a shock on a warm body!  

  • To conserve water and be gentle with your horse, use a bucket and a sponge or soft brush. You’ll want to brush her well before bathing especially if she’s muddy. 

  • Most shampoos can be diluted slightly and mixed in the bucket and still be effective. In fact, Corona shampoo is designed to be used that way.

  • Dirty hair is especially fragile so finger comb manes and tails to lessen the breakage. Start at the ends of a few strands and separate the hairs with your fingers until tangles are removed. 


Here we go!


Start with light spray on the lower legs to get her used to the water then move up higher very slowly. If she tolerates that well you can wet the underside of her neck and chest and move on to 

larger areas of the body.


Before starting to lather up the whole body, wash her face. I always use a sponge on her face and no soap at all. Just too easy to get it in her eyes. I don’t like to be sprayed in the face and a lot of horses don’t either which is why it’s just easier for me to use the sponge. Try not to get water in her eyes or ears.


You may need to re-wet the mane before going on. When it is nice and wet, scrub base of the mane with your fingers or the sponge and let it soak while you start the tail. It’s important to get the base of the mane really clean so as not to restrict new growth. Let the mane soak with the shampoo mixture while you begin on the tail.


I like to dip the entire tail in the bucket and swish it around. As it is soaking, I gently wash the upper part with the sponge. It’s important to wash the tail bone for the same reason that we took extra care on the base of the mane, to maximize new growth. A dirty tail bone may feel itchy to the horse and promote tail rubbing.


Well you guessed it, time to wash the privates. You may want to accustom your horse to this before you teach her to be bathed. You’ll need to wash her bottom and her teats and if you have a gelding, as much of his sheath area as he will allow. I use plain water on privates.


Ready to Rinse


Now proceed to rinsing off the shampoo. Rinse until the water running off is cool and all the soap is removed.


You’ll want to scrape the water off because it holds heat next to the horse’s skin. If you don’t have a sweat scraper just use your hand laid out flat.


Towel dry and let her dry in the sun or hand graze. I prefer to use spray on conditioner when the coat is completely dry. Don’t apply conditioner or any type of product that feels slick to the horse’s back. If you ride her in the next day or so, residue can make the saddle pad slip or even irritate the skin under the blanket.


I’m always tempted to use a sheet or cooling blanket to keep my horse clean but don’t do it if it's really hot outside. Sheets trap in heat and can make the horse really uncomfortable. 


Bathing your horse can be a fun experience for both of you. Just bathe him or her as you would a human baby, gently and with attention to detail.


For lots of training tips visit You’ll also find coupons there for savings on horse treats!

Achieve New Heights With Your Training!

Custom Imagine A Horse Designed Pedestals Shipped To You


For Immediate Release!

Contact: Ron Hahn


Achieve new heights in your horse training!


Dripping Springs, Texas. –– Literally and figuratively. The folks at Imagine A Horse have staked their careers on the efficacy of pedestal training equines of every size and temperament. They have helped elevate the careers of many horses and their trainers, using the fundamentals of this effective training tool. There are several designs from basic one horse pedestals to multi-tiered, multiple horse platforms and each design helps to facilitate different moves by the horse. They have made the plans for most of these available on their website and in their book “The Trick Horse Companion”, many have been built by hammer-handy horsemen all over the world. But what if you’re not good with woodworking? Good news! Now you can order a custom built one from a skilled carpenter.


Ron Hahn of Madras, Oregon is building pedestals using the specifications designed and tested by Imagine A Horse’s (IAH) co-owner, Allen Pogue. Ron is a recent graduate of the IAH Trick Camp and has a working knowledge of the construction and use of these pedestals. Basic sizes begin with a 36” square or 24” x 48” rectangular top. They are sturdily built and when cared for will last a lifetime.


Ron says, “I like making these pedestals because it combines two of my favorite interests, woodworking and horses! As soon as I got back from trick training camp, I set to work to make pedestals for my own horses.  Within 3 days, I had finished the first pedestal and had three of our horses standing on it.  Our horses love the challenge and the treats!”


Pedestals usually ship within a week after receiving an order.


They can be painted any color or clear finish.


Why Pedestal Train?

  • It becomes a safe base for a horse, a place of release and relaxation.
  • Horses quickly become willing to stand quietly.
  • Quiet feet on the pedestal equals quiet mind and focus on the trainer.
  • Horse’s physical dexterity is increased.
  • With all four feet up and gathered together naturally, a horse’s posture can improve which can lead to easier collection under saddle.
  • Horses learn to pay attention to both sets of feet and their entire physical bodies.
  • Horses think it’s fun!



Basic styles:

  • Rectangular 24 x 48 inch top start at $350.
  • Square top 36” x 36” top start at $450.

They are made in Oregon, shipping is additional.


For more information on how to order your finished pedestal or to purchase plans to make your own visit this link:


Or email Ron directly at:


Winner! What A Treat!

AHP Recognizes Train With Trust Video

A BIG Deal!
Last week in central Florida the members of American Horse Publications (AHP) got together to celebrate excellence throughout the world of equine-related media. Top notch examples from print and digital content in 65 categories, from magazine articles, books, promotions and videos were judged by seasoned luminaries from various editorial professions. In the world of information creation for people who work and play with horses this is the creme de la creme of achievement. AHP head Christine Brune said, "Held since 1974, the AHP annual contest provides members with an opportunity to be recognized for excellence in equine publishing. This year’s contest for material published in 2015 drew entries from 98 members and 770 total entries."

Well, guess what! The collaboration between the Imagine A Horse team and Manna Pro, a blog and video series entitled "Train With Trust", had an entry and won third place in its division called "Equine Related Brand Marketing Video".  
The write up said: “…a great job of consistent branding. The content was well written and graphics were professional. This video was at a high level and very engaging with the viewer.”
"Stretching Exercises for Better Performance" is a video featuring Sue and Lady C. Watch it on the "Train With Trust" section on the Manna Pro site in this link. It's the second video from the left. (Or simply click on the embedded video below)
"We could not have been more delighted when we got the news!" says Sue De Laurentis, who's currently traveling with friends and horses in Arizona. Fittingly for a horsewoman who practices what she preaches, she got word by text while out on the trail.
The Imagine A Horse team has been working with Manna Pro on this national campaign about treats as a training tool for several years. Sue believes, "Horses can be keenly motivated by treats and Manna Pro horse treats are an economical and nutritious choice." 
This new success makes an already great experience even better!

Free streaming training videos are available at: 


Put Trust On A Pedestal

Tony Greaves from Little America Miniatures has fun with Andy at the Imagine a Horse Trick Training Camp
Tony Greaves from Little America Miniatures has fun with Andy at the Imagine a Horse Trick Training Camp

 Imagine A Horse put trust on a pedestal and taught owners from across America how to do the same at Trick Horse Camp earlier this month with Imagine A Horse co-founders, master trick trainers, and authors of the new The Trick Horse Companion, Sue De Laurentis and Allen Pogue of Red Horse Ranch in Dripping Springs, outside Austin, Texas.


Famous Imagine A Horse success stories include 'equine graduate' Lady C, the mare ridden by country recording artist Sheryl Crow into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo before her concert. “Lady C’s foundational trick training gave her the courage to face 55,000 screaming fans, spotlights and a pyrotechnics show,” said De Laurentis and Pogue, who have dedicated their lives to helping people and horses more fully trust one another.


“It was so fun working with fellow equestrians from all over the US and from a variety of backgrounds,” said Johnny Robb, a grand prix dressage rider from Florida who attended the camp, “ I expected it to be fun, but it was so much more meaningful than I expected. Developing the relationship with the horses and watching the horses that were new to trick training become confident and engaged in the activities was awesome.” Husband and wife camp attendees, Ron and Sandra Hahn were home only a few days when Ron built a pedestal using the guidelines provided at camp and within days they were successfully training their horses at their farm in Oregon. Vicki Yeomans and her friend Terri Davis from Texas brought their horses to camp with them and got to start their training with hands-on help from Sue and Allen. “The different disciplines and perspectives brought additional depth to the material. Everyone was so supportive, helpful and kind. This was without a doubt the best clinic I have attended,” Yeomans exclaimed. And Ginger Sampson from Tennessee wowed the entire class when she took to the liberty trainings ring for the first time and looked like a pro. 


“We love horses, they’re our life. We’ve witnessed how Imagine A Horse methods improve the lives of horses and humans. We are aware that many horse owners want more than traditional training. They want a closer relationship with their horses, based on activities that are interesting to their horse. We help make that happen. So much training is based on tradition and popularity - neither of which necessarily lend themselves to modern psychology or behavior modification. Our Trick Horse Camps are calibrated toward each horse individually and an owner can go home with new appreciation for what is possible, having walked through all the steps towards what we call The Ultimate Companion Horse”, De Laurentis explained. 


Trick Horse Camp offers such unexpected benefits as Pedestal Training: “All species are trained using a 'place' or 'mark' except, traditionally, the horse. In ground training, a pedestal gives a horse somewhere to go, rather than act on flight instinct and run.


Quiet feet equal a focused mind. Pedestal work also helps develop physical dexterity while increasing self-confidence and boldness. Horses love to stand on pedestals because it makes them taller than other horses, which increases confidence. Standing with the front feet on a pedestal gets weight off the front end and helps a horse to stretch and relax his back, which makes him feel good. A relaxed and confident horse is in a mindset to learn. 



“Pedestal variations can strengthen and shape a horse’s body in beneficial, yoga-like stances. If a horse has all four feet closely together on a square pedestal he is using his body in a new way by stretching his topline and tightening his abdominals. Pedestal training affects horses positively physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Camp participant Ginger Simpson with equine friend
Camp participant Ginger Simpson with equine friend

Positive training leads to positive performance. Allen's three-horse liberty performance has opened expositions, and their Red Horse Ranch Arabian stallion, Elk Hasan, is mascot for Austin's arena football team. “Three of our horses performed at the Sound Horse Conference in Kentucky. We’ve trained many horses for performers but most have confidentiality agreements so we’re not at liberty to use their names.” 

One name they are happy to mention is sponsor Manna Pro, whose healthy treats incentive learning. “Treats have always been an important part of training at Imagine A Horse, and can be used effectively and responsibly while preserving a horse’s good manners.” Since 2014 Imagine A Horse has partnered with Manna Pro on a national campaign about treats as a training tool called, 'Train With Trust.' Free downloadable training videos are available at “Horses can be highly motivated by treats and Manna Pro treats are economical and nutritionally developed to complement any diet.”

Enrollment is open now for the next Imagine A Horse Trick Horse Camp planned for October, followed in November by the first-ever Miniature Horse Trick Horse Camp. Besides learning the secrets to trick training and developing strong relationships with their horses, campers can expect an experience filled with true Texas hospitality and scrumptious, healthy home-cooked southern meals (and take-home recipes).

Stay in touch! Join the Imagine A Horse Mailing list to be among the first to learn about events, tips and new releases!


Allen's Little Disappointment

I've used Manna Pro treats with my horses since I was just a kid, and Allen and I have used their treats here at Imagine A Horse for training Trick Horses for almost two decades. They're just the right size for training, really economical and don't affect the horses' diet.


When we first released our DVD "Treats as a Training Tool" in 2008 I approached Manna Pro about a sponsorship. They loved the idea — It was a natural fit!


We're really proud of the video series we filmed with them in 2015. It was a fun series to make and has been SO well received by the horse loving public. Manna Pro makes great products and they are wonderful to work with. We appreciate their support.


This year our partnership gains momentum with the release of our all-new collection of blogs titled "Imagine A Mini”. It’s also the title of our newest DVD available here




I called Allen to tell him I was bringing a beautiful black and white stallion home and he got his saddle ready...very excited to try out the little stallion. Surprise, the saddle did not fit!

We now have a 22” miniature stud named  "Anniversary" in for Trick Horse Training. He is super cute and a whole lot of fun. He’s from Little America Miniature Horses whose goal is to continue to improve the miniature horse bloodlines. I'm excited to keep you updated with his progress. Check in with us on our Facebook page here.


Imagine A Horse has several other miniature horses and miniature donkeys on the ranch that we’re also working with. They are really great at learning tricks! We reward them with Manna Pro nuggets. Their size is just right for these little guys and not surprisingly they’re great motivators!


Developing a 'Feel' Through Ground Driving


Starting an Orphan Foal

by Allen Pogue

Foreword: Statistically 2% of Arabian mares reject their foals. Could be that they are raised in a very artificial environment and never have any herd experience? Nobody knows for sure.-Arabians have the highest percentage of this happening. 

When I have an orphaned foal I try to pair him up with a buddy.

Then I'll invent ways for the two youngsters to get used to each other in a very slow and safe way.

I will try to slowly and carefully allow more contact.  They will start out on two sides of a divider learning side by side and at some point when I feel it will go well I will open the divider gate and let them be in the same stall space together.

I have a 15x30 double size stall that's perfect for this.

 This link (or the button below) has a downloadable pdf of an article I wrote for TrailBlazer Magazine that has a picture of Taba (a seven month old buckskin colt standing in between two three week old Andalusian colts.) Taba had just gone through our Enhanced Foal Training and had been recently weaned. The three week old colts are just copying what they see Taba doing.

With the pictured foal here, FaHeem,  I'm working on recreating the results using the guidance of our well educated teacher horse Rafieq.

As far as I know, nobody else has trained foals like this until now. It's definitely a work in progress and exciting work at that!

TrailBlazer Article on Foal Training
Trail Blazer Foal training.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.8 MB

Foals Learn by Copying the Adult Horses

In the video below, you'll see the two foals n the above referenced article training at liberty with six adult horses.

The photos below show the early stages of FaHeem's training with Rafieq. Throughout the summer I will post updates on his progress!

FaHeem Studies with Rafieq


A Summer Friend

Allen doesn't take rearing this orphaned foal lying down - no, wait, yes he does.
Allen doesn't take rearing this orphaned foal lying down - no, wait, yes he does.

Learning to Come When Called

By Sue De Laurentis and Allen Pogue, Imagine A Horse, 2015 

We all know it’s possible to train a dog to come when called but did you ever think it would be possible to train your horse to come? Our veterinarians and farriers too will tell you that even with over 50 horses on the ranch, every single one can be called out of a herd by name. 

Every horse can learn his name and to come when called even if he’s in a group. Imagine how much easier it could be to catch your horse when he is turned out or has gotten loose! 

We use the horse’s name every time we are near him, speaking in an affirmative manner with full expectation that he will recognize it. We make it a pleasurable experience for him by adding a food treat. Pretty much the same way we would teach a dog his name. After he knows his name we’ll teach him come when he’s called. 

If you read Using Treats as a Training Tool or watched our DVD, you and probably your horse too should already know the cue that means a treat is coming…like “cookie time”.

Here are the tools you will need 

  • A treat pouch and your horse’s favorite flavor of treats.
  • Possibly a halter and lead 

Because he already understands treats basics we can get his attention with the cue “cookie time.” As I approach him, I will cue him for a treat and add his name too. “Cookie time, Marz (one of my horses)” and encourage him to take a few steps toward me.

At first, I may take a few steps toward him but gradually he will come to me from a greater distance.

Each time I repeat the sequence I’ll encourage him to take a few more steps. I will also reverse the order of the words and use his name first. “Marz, cookie time.” 

With a few repetitions a day, he’ll soon be coming to me reliably when I call his name even in a group. 

After he knows the sequence, try simply rubbing him on the face which is an alternative great reward. 

So remember: 

  • Use only the necessary verbal cues 
  • Always make it a pleasant experience for him to come to you 
  • Catch him often just for fun, not work!


Passing Through a Gate While Mounted

So you’re out riding and come upon an unexpected gate. Do you hop off and then hope to get back on? Opening a gate while mounted is easier than you would think.

Opening a gate while mounted makes trail riding easier and helps to perfect your horse’s physical dexterity and finesse. Your horse should already know how to side pass a few steps each direction and the halt, take a step or two forward and also a few steps back. You’ll teach each tiny segment as an individual move. 

For the best control, the rider should open and close the gate without the horse touching it. If you were in a competitive trail class, you would be required to keep your hand on the gate and the horse should not touch it with his nose or you would be disqualified. 

What You'll Need

  • Your regular riding tack on the horse you're going to teach
  • A gate that is not too short to reach while mounted 
  • Treat pouch and your horse’s favorite flavor of treat; Our horses Manna Pro’s Bite-Size Nuggets or Start To Finish Horse Treats 

In teaching, I vary the steps and giving the treat so he is obedient to each step separately before I put them all together. This keeps him engaged and accurate. If he gets in a hurry, go back to the beginning and calm his anxiety.

In the training phase, I’ll separate each move with a halt. You can treat for position at any of the halt points

Ride alongside the gate and halt. Ask for just a step or two to the side so you can reach down and touch the gate latch. 

This is a crucial halt position. You don’t have to reach down and unlatch the gate. Just having your horse be willing to stand quietly is a big step. Over a 

few repetitions he will begin to understand that he is to halt at the gate and that’s all that’s required. 

In following sessions, you can acclimate him slowly as you reach a little farther toward the gate latch. Opening a gate while mounted is a series of many tiny and incremental moves and should be taught as such. There should be no hurry. 

Take a side step or two and halt. At this point, I usually mix up the steps I ask for. One side-pass, halt. A step forward, several back and so forth. We don’t want him to anticipate the separate steps. 

Work progressively so he will execute any of the tiny steps as you ask him before you take a side step as you are actually holding the gate. Holding it will be taught in a progression also. 

When you feel you can accurately get any or all of the steps I’ve described so far, go ahead and try to put them all into sequence. It’s ok to give a food treat at any of these small steps but vary the treat sequence. 

When you can unlatch the gate, take a couple of steps forward as he bends his body around the gate. If he’s going slowly, go ahead and keep your hand on it. It’s ok in the training to let go of the gate at any time, especially if you feel off balance. 

After you’ve mastered opening the gate, you can repeat all the slow steps you took in opening it but in reverse. 

Over time, treat him only upon completion. Go slowly and let him learn in incremental steps. Reward variably so he isn’t anticipating the treat. 

So remember: 

  • Break the steps down into tiny increments 
  • Add dwell time or separation time between them 
  • If he gets in a hurry, go back a few steps 
  • Treat for position to reward his progress 


Trail Rides Should be Full of Wonder not Fear!

 Imagine being on a trail ride and an animal unexpectedly darts across your path. Your horse shys and takes a big leap to the side. Your blood is pumping and you tense up causing your horse to react even more. Well, now imagine being able to quickly get his attention back on you with one simple movement, bringing calm and focus to the situation.

Acclimating your horse to new situations is about establishing his trust in you. To help establish trust, always come from a positive and encouraging position. 

When a horse is surprised or startled on the trail, stay calm and be proactive. Your behavior will shape his. If we change his focus for even a few seconds, with a familiar exercise or default behavior we can usually deflect the flight mechanism and regain his attention. 

The tools you will need 

  • Your regular riding tack 
  • Enough room to ride a 12-15 foot circle 
  • Treat pouch and his favorite flavor of treats.
    We like Manna Pro’s Bite-Size Nuggets or Start To Finish Horse Treats

We use a default behavior that keeps him focused on you rather than the situation. We’ll teach him a cue so he can understand what’s coming next. It’s the expectation that he will be rewarded with a treat that moves his focus back to you. 

In the teaching phase, we’ll ride a small circle and stop to reward him at the half way mark and again on completion. Use a pre-cue word like “circle” to tell him what he is going to do. 

Practice riding and rewarding enough times that he immediately recognizes the cue and implied reward. 

Once this sequence is established, you can omit the halfway mark reward. So next time you are out on the trail and a scary situation occurs, get his focus on you by using the pre-cue “circle”, riding the circle, and then giving him a reward at the end which could eventually be a verbal “good boy” or a pat on the neck. 


  1. Train yourself to be proactive not reactive in a surprise situation 
  2. Default behaviors build trust because he can stay relaxed with your guidance 
  3. Practice riding the circle enough times that he instantly recognizes it 
  4. Never punish him for being afraid 

Sensitizing a horse to the behavior you would like is a great idea. This is NOT the same as desensitizing. 


Using Treats as a Training Tool

 Food treats, in some circles have a bad rap…but treats can be used effectively and responsibly in horse training and preserve your horse’s good manners. 

Horses love treats and they can be highly motivated by them. If interesting correctly, treats can spark the horses desire to learn almost anything. Treats have always been an important part of our training at Imagine A Horse. 

First, we use a “diminishing reward system” to keep the horse eager and engaged. We start by using treats generously and gradually switch to mostly stroking and verbal encouragement as we decrease the frequency of the treats. Often the move becomes a sort of intrinsic reward for the horse, making it easier to switch to stroking or verbal praise. 

 We recommend a treat pouch for easy access and less distraction for your horse. If you use a treat pouch, the smell of the treats will not be on your person after the session. Some horses just can’t be tempted by the smell of treats and maintain their manners. It’s important to use smaller, bite-sized treats. If a horse chews for too long, he may forget what he did to earn the reward.

Experiment to find your horse’s favorite flavor. Lady C for instance loves the Manna Pro peppermint treats. 

We use a “bridge signal” like “good boy” to create the expectation for your horse that he will be rewarded. The words “Cookie Time” when given after the bridge signal serve to give the horse permission to come into your space to get his reward. 

 Teaching a horse to “smile” is a great first exercise as it teaches your horse about food rewards and helps you get your timing right. 

  • First, put a small treat in the palm of your hand and lightly close your fingers around it. 
  • Invite him to nose through your fingers as though he were picking a blade of grass. 
  • Say “good boy” and within three seconds say “cookie time” and then let him take the treat. 

Repeat the sequence as you coax him to wiggle his lip and reach out for the treat with his lips. At the same time, raise your index finger because this will become a visual cue to “Smile”. You may also tickle the underside of his top lip to ask him to raise it. 

Give a reward with each small improvement and a walk about between repetitions to give him a mental break 

Practice this with your horse in short sessions and repeat no more than 4 times. If possible, end on a good note even if you have to go back a step or two. 

To prevent your horse from becoming a “cookie monster” only give a treat when your horse gives you the response you ask for. As many horses don’t like the smell of citrus, another option is to hold a lemon in your hand and give the horse a gentle spritz of juice if he comes into your space without you asking. Be careful not to spritz the juice in your horse’s eyes.

We also use a product called NipBuster to correct a “muggy” horse. It’s available here on our web site

So remember, when using treats as a training tool: 

  • Timing is crucial to creating a reward system 
  • Start with treats but gradually switch to verbal praise or stroking 
  • Work in short sessions and allow your horse mental breaks 
  • Prevent your horse from becoming a “cookie monster” 


Create a Steady Mount

Standing quietly and safely for mounting is a must for any horse, especially when you’re out on the trail. 

As with any new behavior, it is best accomplished by breaking the process into small and understandable steps. The individual steps can later be linked together in what we call a Behavior Chain. 

Standing still is inclusive of many related activities; standing still for the farrier, the vet, while tied, under saddle, in a trailer, in a stock and on a lead are just a few. 

Standing still is inclusive of many related activities; standing still for the farrier, the vet, while tied, under saddle, in a trailer, in a stock and on a lead are just a few. 

A horse of any age from weanling to veteran trail horse can learn the basics of standing for mounting even long before saddle training begins. 

Here’s what you will need to get started 

  • A mounting block or step 
  • Treat pouch and your horse’s favorite flavor of treat 
  • Your regular riding tack 
  • Possibly a helper 
  • Guider whip 

Using food treats creates the expectation of a reward and keeps the horse focused on you. We use a diminishing reward system which means we use treats liberally in the beginning and as the individual steps in a Behavior Chain become easier for the horse we gradually decrease treats and increase stroking or verbal encouragement. 

We always use a mounting block because it not only makes mounting less stressful for the horse physically but it also serves as a target. 

Lead him alongside the mounting block and ask him to halt for a few seconds as you restrict his forward movement and then reward him with the verbal cue of “cookie time” as you give him a treat. Let him stand quietly and enjoy his treat. If you’re teaching him patience you can’t be in a hurry! 

Give him a walk about between sessions. Increase his wait or dwell time at the block by a few seconds with each repetition. Two or three repetitions per session are plenty. 

Position the horse in a way that encourages him to stay put.
Position the horse in a way that encourages him to stay put.

As he begins to expect a reward at the end of his stand time, that will become his focus, not wiggling around. If he does get wiggly, don’t reward him and you may want to give him a walk about. If he’s really distracted, give him a time out and try again later. 

After a few repetitions, I will mount him and reward him afterwards. It’s important to breathe and exhale in relaxation and wait for him to do the same. To a horse, that’s a sign that all is fine. 

Mixing up the sequence and also the number of times I mount or dismount will keep him from anticipating. I change up the timing of the treats too. 

If your horse just won’t stay in position, ask a friend to help you by restricting his forward movement with a rein or by placing her hand on the bridge of his nose. She can also put him back in position by tapping him with a guider or dressage whip just behind your leg. 


Take your time, he will learn to do the same. 

Vary the sequence so he doesn’t anticipate. 

Remember to breathe because it will help both of you to relax. 

Other mounting considerations- 

  • Use the mounting block as a target for the horse to line up with.
  • Even though we are able to mount a horse without a block, the additional elevation of a block lessens the pull on a horse’s body which over time can cause physical problems. Riders that want to mount both sides may find the block helpful. Mounting from both sides helps a horse stay balanced physically. 
  • By standing on the block, the rider can condition his horse to seeing him above and from both sides. 

Position your horse facing a wall or a fence to help restrict his forward movement. 

A side-pass toward and also away from a mounting block is a cool add-on move and can be useful on the trail. 

To teach the side-pass to the block, stand at the horse’s head on the side opposite of the direction you will ask him to step. For instance if he is to side-pass to the left, you will be on his right side. Put the lead or reins in your hand and tip his nose slightly toward you or opposite of the direction you will ask him to move. Restrict his forward movement and ask him to step over, just one step. You may use a guider whip to tap him gently in the middle of the rib cage to encourage him to step 

It’s great to have a helper!
It’s great to have a helper!

As your horse progresses, delay the food treat for a second or two before proceeding to the next sequence. 

It’s the expectation of a reward that will help to keep him focused on you. 

Remedial Mounting 

Most of the problems regarding an adult horse and standing still are the result of an incident that scared him or made him uncomfortable. Training and retraining a horse to stand still requires patience, good horsemanship and willpower to restrain from using “quick fixes”. Adult horses can be retrained but it just can’t be rushed. 

First of all, mentally explore all of the possible reasons the horse may be uncomfortable with being mounted. They could include poor fitting equipment, an inexperienced rider that flops down into the saddle, physical pain, trauma of any type associated with standing still or simply a poor education. Often a horse has been conditioned to walk off during mounting by a rider that has simply allowed him to do so. 

In a remedial situation just as in initial training, never assume a horse knows a lesson that you have not taught or re-taught him! Don’t short cut any of the individual steps involved and help him understand each separate piece of the puzzle of proper mounting on the ground, before you mount

The sequence of the steps should be varied to prevent anticipation and anxiety. This means you’ll also need to simply prevent evasions, one step at a time. Put the horse in position… If he evades by backing, place his bottom toward a fence. If he walks off, position him facing a fence or wall. To prevent side stepping, put him alongside a barrier and have an assistant stand at his head. It may take from one session to dozens or more to cure the evasions. Do not be discouraged, re-training is definitely worth it! 

Standing on a mounting block lets your horse see you from either side and also as you are above him.
Standing on a mounting block lets your horse see you from either side and also as you are above him.

Treats as a Training Tool Re-Released!

Treats as a Training Tool

Imagine a Horse announces the re-release of their popular DVD "Treats as a Training Tool".

Food Treats are used in training animals of all species. Treats can be used effectively and responsibly with horses too! We have presented many cool ways to use food treats for training your horse and maintain his good behavior including methods to stop mugging.

The introduction features Bobbie Colorado and her dog, Shamus. Bobbi has trained all species of animals and explains why food treats work.

Imagine a Horse shows you how to use food treats in under saddle work and in trick horse training with methods that anyone can use.


$25.00  plus $2.50 shipping in the USA

Buy Now!


Why Learn From the Best?

6 Reasons to Study with the Masters

Do it Yourself horse training is a wonderful thing. It can deepen the positive relationship you have with your horse and capitalizes on the time you have available to spend with him in meaningful, fun ways.

It's important to start off on the right foot, however, and spending some time with master trainers can help you maximize your own efforts while providing you with a much deeper understanding of why your responds the way he does to your activities.

Imagine A Horse Training Tips
Confidence on the pedestal

In no particular Order, Seven Reasons:

1. Getting Your Timing Right

Timing your asks and rewards is a crucial aspect of the successes you'll create with your equines. Observing someone who has developed a deep understanding of how a horse thinks can go a very long way in helping you start to develop your own timing. Books, videos and articles are all great ways to pass along information, but being in the presence of someone working with you and one of your horses can bring you a lot closer to the "Aha!" moments we all need to get our timing right.

2. Getting Your Cues Right

Actually having to practice your cues in the presence of someone who can help tweak them with you starts to build not just intellectual memory but muscle memory as well. There's something about practicing in front of someone who knows exactly what you're trying to accomplish that elevates your own tries and eventual successes. As you're quickly corrected you don't have a chance to develop any 'bad' habits and can push through confusion quickly until you're confident with your activities.

3. Learning How to Reward Your Horse

One of the very important aspects of positive reinforcement training is coming to understand how the student horse's responsive actually gain strength through a protocol that starts limiting rewards. This is counter intuitive for most of us! Subjects actually work harder for rewards that offered less and less often.

As corollary to this is the replacing of food rewards with verbal rewards or a rub or a gentle pat. Master Trainers know how to 'read' a horse and adjust his rewards based on his own abilities and successes.

4. Developing an Eye for the Try

This is the truly subtle stuff, especially with beginner horse trainers. Sometimes a student horse's try may be all but invisible to the untrained eye. Maybe he only shifted his attention to the pedestal you're hoping he'll soon leap atop! Maybe he only softened his eye in that general direction. Sue and Allen can show you what to look for. This is one of those important aspects of hands-on interaction that other types of knowledge acquisition just can't touch.

Imagine A Horse
Training can be tiring but oh, so worth it!

5. Building Confidence

Often what happens quickly with proper tutelage is you discover you have more aptitude than you imagined and so does your horse. Beginners and newbies often show a hesitancy to their training that under the Master's watchful eye you can blow right past. In other words you are likely a much better trainer than you think you are and your horse is likely a better student too!


6. Knowing When to Quit

Finally, with practice and developing your own understanding of equine behavior and aptitude with guidance you can learn to observe when your horse has finished for the moment; when he's ready for a break. All beings who are learning benefit from breaks in the teaching process that give them time to absorb the new information.


7. Getting to Practice with Other Horses!

Finally working with Sue and Allen at their Red Horse Ranch can give you access to a variety of equines with varied abilities and education beyond that which your own horse can offer. Working with other aptitudes, personalities and strengths can help you up your game and is a whole lot of fun to boot!

Sometimes letting the Master Trainer work with your horse can give you a fresh look.
Sometimes letting the Master Trainer work with your horse can give you a fresh look.

Press Release: Manna Pro Launches Videos on Responsibly Using Treats in Horse Training

St. Louis, MO (March 11, 2015)  – Well-known horse trainer and animal behaviorist Sue De Laurentis has teamed up with Manna Pro, an equine health care company, in a “Train with Trust” video series that teaches horse owners how to responsibly use treats as a training tool. De Laurentis uses her signature training approach to focus on essential behaviors, including stretching exercises for better performance, crossing obstacles on a trail, and teaching your horse to come when called.


“Treats are an important part of training and can be highly motivational to a horse. If used correctly, treats can really spark a horse’s desire to learn,” said De Laurentis. “My goal is to show horse owners how to get great results AND preserve your horse’s good manners.”


In the videos, De Laurentis demonstrates how to use a diminishing rewards system to obtain the desired behaviors in the horse. “At first, we reward generously to keep her eager and engaged. Then we progress to verbal praise and stroking,” she said, adding that treats are then offered at random times to keep the horse interested.


“I’ve used Manna Pro Horse Treats in my training programs for many years, and I’m impressed with how quickly and effectively they can be used to teach horses new behaviors,” said De Laurentis. She said she likes the small pocket-sized treats, as they are easier to handle.


Manna Pro’s Carolyn Adams, senior brand manager, says the company is thrilled to be featuring De Laurentis in the training videos. “Sue offers great solutions on how to build trust with your horse and how to quickly teach new behaviors using treats. Whether you happen to be a trail rider, competitor, or breeder, the lessons provided in this new video series are beneficial for any horse owner,” she said.


Adams added that Manna Pro stresses the importance of responsibly using treats in horse training.  “Over-use of treats can result in bad behaviors so the methods we outline in the videos show how to use them responsibly,” she said. “The focus is on rewarding progress and reinforcing correct behavior.”


The new series includes four videos, with an additional three to be released at a later date, and appeals to riders of all disciplines. The videos are available to horse owners for free with the purchase of Manna Pro Wafers or Bite-Size Nuggets.   Manna Pro is also offering $7.00 in coupons for these horse treats. For more information and to download coupons, visit


About Manna Pro Products

Manna Pro Products, LLC, produces high-quality animal nutrition and care products for a broad range of animals. Its largest group of products is associated with horses, but the company also produces feed for backyard poultry and goats, rabbits, cattle, pigs, and companion animals. Manna Pro’s product lines primarily serve the “lifestyle farmer” market – people who own acreage with farm animals, and operate their farms as a hobby rather than a business. The company’s flagship product – Calf-Manna® – has been a staple of animal owners for more than 80 years.  For more information, visit


About Sue De Laurentis

Sue and her husband, Allen Pogue, are the owners of Imagine A Horse, and share a combined 36 years of experience in both training horses and perfecting their trick training methods. Sue and Allen are co-authors of a new book, The Trick Horse Companion, which is the most comprehensive source of information for animal behavior and trick training. Their unique methods are geared towards increasing the intelligence, adaptability, and predictability of today’s companion horse, while enhancing their relationship with their rider.


Inside the Mind of a Top Notch Trick Horse Trainer

Sue Chats About Her Professional Life

Professional Trick Horse Trainer

Suzanne De Laurentius shares some of her insights

How did you get started with horses?

My parents were cattle ranchers and put me on a horse when I was just under two years old. I've been there ever since. I've been training saddle horses for 24 years and trick horses for 14.

Why did you begin to specialize in training horses to do tricks?

In 2001 I met Allen and was totally amazed by the method he had developed to train what we came to call "enlightened trick horse training." His horses were amazing and he could call them each out by name and ask them each to do a separate move and they did it! That did it for me too and over the next few years we over a dozen DVD titles so others could have the same great results without making the same mistakes. Basically when I saw how the entire method transformed the horses, I was completely into it.

What sets your training methods apart from the rest?

Every detail of Imagine A Horse is calculated for the horse's mental, emotional and physical well being. If we make learning fun, we can help our horses become confident and its easier for a confident horse to be obedient.

What is your favorite part about training horses

Watching a horse wake up mentally and begin to love learning.

What is your overarching Mission with this work?

Make domestic life for horses better through two way communication skills. 

What makes the best candidate for a trick horse/equine?

Horses that are the "houdinis" of the horse world. Those that use objects to try to manipulate their world such as picking up feed pans or playing tug of war with their friends. Having said that, trick horse training can bring a new spark to a horse that has been dulled by too much repetitive work and can even be used as remedial training for particular bad habits because it brings real creative structure to their world.

Who makes the best candidate for a trick horse trainer?

A fascinating facet of our training is that because we teach folks how to initiate a diminishing reward system with their horses, it helps to train the humans! We teach the value of timing, different types of cues and also concepts...applied to humans first and then to training their horses. The diminishing reward system means that in the beginning we will use food treats liberally and then gradually use more praise and verbal encouragement. So...a human who can live in "the moment," who is patient and is really prepared to "listen" to their horse and learn his individual style, experiences quicker improvement which is a valuable lesson - rewarded by success -  for any of us to learn.

What do you like best about performing with your horses?

Being able to inspire others to look at their horses with a new appreciation for what may be possible with their own. Folks usually have no idea that horses can learn the things we teach until they actually see ours performing! It helps people develop an understanding of how much fun they can have with their companion horses even when they are not mounted!

What question did I not ask that I should have?

Isn't tricks training just about silly pet tricks? 

Answer is NO.....each detail of IAH is just one tiny piece of an entire process of higher education. Picture how finding the corner pieces of a a jig saw puzzle helps to form the entire picture...that's trick horse training. It's about creating the "Ultimate Companion Horse", a horse that is confident in his interaction with humans, can think through challenges and best of all...never has to be desensitized! A horse that trusts me enough to go up a climbing wall will take me ANYWHERE I ask him to go. The result is a more intelligent, adaptable and dependable horse.


"All About Horses"

Sue Talks With Jim Swanner

Earlier this week, Sue spent some time talking with Jim Swanner, Internationally known Natural Horsemanship Clinician, and host All About Horses radio.

All About Horses" airs each Monday morning at 9:30 CST on WKAC 1080 AM and stream a

Some of the topics touched on are highlighted below. Listen to the whole interview here:

Imagine a Horse is about developing the learning power and desire for interaction in today's companion horse.

We teach six different categories of behaviors...each set of behaviors can be a starting point depending on the personality, learning style or goal for each horse. 

The 6 Categories are:

  • Pedestal training
  • horse or circus style with as many as you can imagine
  • Agility...working the agility platform, rotating pedestal, target board and climbing wall and the sit down
  • Engagement...retrieving, herding the big ball
  • Tricks of Trust such as the obeisance, bow, kneel, lie down, sit up 
  • Gait...Spanish walk, piaffe

We use lots of props such as pedestals, target boards, balls, modified frisbee and bean bags to sit on. Horses make strong associations between objects and actions which expedites learning because answers to the requests we make are obvious with no grey area.

Horses generally love this type of training. It can be used to encourage a timid horse, re- direct a horse that may have behavioral problems.

We think a smarter horse is a safer horse. A horse that will tackle the climbing wall here at home will most likely go anywhere you ask him to on the trail. 

Everything is designed to set a horse up for success. 

We acclimate horses to many, many new situations and empower them work with us . We want to develop a thinking horse that is confident. We use minimum repetition in teaching to help keep a horses mind fresh.....not dulled by repetition. 

Great for horses from weanlings to seniors. Positive reinforcement.

All About Horses with Jim Swanner is a featured radio show weekly at WKAC 1080 AM Station in Athens, Alabama.  Jim discusses topics that support the care, nurture, and enjoyment of the horse and rider relationship.  Community happenings, expert guests from all around the world, and informative programming is the focus of this thirty minute show. - See more at:


In Search Of: Understudy for the Venerable Lady C

Must Have Similar Markings!

We're in search of a young filly to become Lady C's understudy. Must have similar markings. May be a weanling. Have you got a nomination or suggestion? Please - get in touch! Use our contact form or email:


Hear Sue LIVE

Listen as the Equestrian Legacy Radio host, Belinda Gail, talks with Sue this Thursday, January 15 at 12:30 CST here:

Equestrian Legacy Radio is LIVE TALK RADIO for Equestrians and those that love the Equestrian Lifestyle.  They feature great music and conversation with your favorite entertainers as well as rising stars.

This is your chance to ask Sue anything you'd like to know about horses and trick training!

If you miss the live feed you can still listen to the archived podcast On Demand 24/7...on your Mobile Device or computer.

Find out more on their Facebook page.

Get the Equestrian Legacy Radio app by following this link. It's free!


Happy New Year!


Horses - Training and Treats?

By Sue De Laurentis

We think it's possible!

If it eats, it can be trained! Yes, you can use treats both effectively and responsibly with horses. Using horse treats as a training tool can be effective to shape desired behaviors yet maintain a horse’s good manners.

Usually folks use treats for two reasons, training and because it makes us feel good. Using treats does have a bad rap in some corners but mostly because there are not many who teach exactly how and why to use them.      

Horses can be taught to expect treats for performance on cue or in other words by receiving a signal or word. To prove this, just try unwrapping a peppermint or cutting an apple into pieces prior to feeding it to your horse. We promise he will expect to get his treat when the horse hears wrapper opened or the apple is cut in just a couple of repetitions!  

Most expert animal trainers use a diminishing reward system and so do we. This means as a behavior or response becomes reliable we gradually diminish the number of treats we use and transfer to friendly stroking, positive verbal praise or an intermittent treat. In the beginning treats can be dispensed more often as the horse is encouraged and rewarded. We are instilling a new response mechanism in which the treat, given even occasionally is the “light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Teach Your Horse Reward Basics

The success of any reward system depends on your:

  • delivery
  • timing
  • consistency

Teach your horse first what verbal praise is about. Choose the word or very short phrase that you will use as a praise word. We use “good” or “good boy/girl”. When spending time with your horse, stroke his neck and tell him “good boy.” Make it clear through your touch and tone of your voice that your intention is to praise. Repeat this sequence often and if you can associate it with a good behavior he offers, that’s even better.

Bridge Signals

“Good boy” will become a bridge signal and will be used to both reward him verbally and to let him know a treat is coming. Itbridges the few seconds of time between his response and the actual giving of the treat. The treat must be forthcoming in three seconds or less and the sequence must always be the same.

We use “cookie time” immediately following the bridge signal to let the horse know that he is getting a food treat and to invite him into our space to accept it.

Get Started!

When your horse has given an approximation of a behavior you have asked for, immediately say “good boy,” pause a second and immediately give the signal “cookie time” and give him a treat…within three seconds. Do this intermittently for a day or two over multiple short sessions.

Build on Successes

We teach new behaviors by breaking them into very small increments and use the treat sequence when he at least tries to respond. As his understanding is established, reward only for improvement. As his response becomes more reliable, begin to praise him with your voice accompanied by stroking and begin to decrease frequency of the food treats. Use small pieces so they can be chewed quickly.


  • If your horse starts to get in a hurry for a treat, try walking away for a few minutes and pay him no attention. His success and good manners will depend on your consistent performance.

  • You may easily correct a horse that mugs for food by spritzing a little juice from a small piece of lemon in the direction of his nose. Your horse should come into your space only when invited with the “cookie time” cue.

  • Just one spritz of lemon juice a couple of feet from this horse’s nose was all it took to help her keep her space.

Mounted moves can be easily shaped using treats as a reward. More on that later.

Happy Training!

Learn more in our latest book "The Trick Horse Companion".


Book Trailer for "The Trick Horse Companion"

Take a sneak peak inside Allen and Sue's latest project, their new book "The Trick Horse Companion".

Feel free to share the video with your horse loving friends!

This beautifully produced hard cover volume is 240+ pages and features over 300 full color photos depicting easy to follow methods to give your horse the education you both know he deserves.

Buy the book here.


An Educated Horse Make an Excellent Trail Buddy

"Just" Trail Riding?

Trail riding safely is one of the most challenging activities any horse and human team can do together. With all the unknowns and unique opportunities to interact with the world at-large every horseman should have a deep understanding of their equine companion in addition to their deep riding seat.

Anyone who has ever trail ridden has, at one time or another, encountered a horse and rider pair that maybe shouldn't have left the farm. You know the ones: the jiggy horses, the ones that won't stand still to be mounted, the nervous ones looking for leadership, and the list goes on.


Tricks can be Very Practical

At Imagine A Horse, we believe that the foundations we teach to accomplish many of our tricks also serve the horse and rider beautifully in all kinds of situations. Consider, a horse that is comfortable stepping up onto a pedestal is halfway towards stepping into a trailer! An equine companion that can easily find focus on his human partner makes an all round safer trail horse, especially during situations that might be more novel than others.


A horse that has been taught the value of staying put until asked to move out will stay still for mounting no matter how different the circumstances are than what he's used to. And just think, a horse that knows how to sit up is going to make mounting in a soft area where there is no mounting block a breeze and look fantastic in the process!


Click the photo above for more information, or click right here to add a copy into your shopping cart right now.


Avid Riders can Make Prolific Writers!

Where's Imagine A Horse been showing up recently??


We are truly honored to have had articles included in these fine equine publications:


Trail Blazer Magazine, The Sound Advocate, The Voice of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Journal of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse, The Horse Gazette and many fine electronic publications.


An Educated Horse is an Awesome Trail Buddy

Sue and Allen definitely practice what they preach when it comes to having fun with their horses. In addition to having fun with them at home they enjoy having their equine students and companions accompany them on the wide world at-large. Recently they took some time to travel out west for some much needed R&R and time to bask in the glory of Mother Nature.

Sue and Allen believe that providing your horse with the tools he needs to think through and acquire a carefully constructed education through carefully curated traditional training as well as their “Enlightened Equine Trick Training” prepares them for accomplishments far away from the home base.

Riding the wide world at large opens up the possibilities of many new novel experiences for most saddle horses and with a solid foundation of trust and leadership graduates of their training techniques can find the confidence they need to stay calm for just about any surprise a trail ride can offer.

Allen aboard Beso Elegante in Garnier Montana, August 2014 (photo by Sue aboard Boullet)
Allen aboard Beso Elegante in Garnier Montana, August 2014 (photo by Sue aboard Boullet)

Learn how to give your horse an education using Allen and Sue's time-honored, proven methods that are as fun for you sa they are for your equine students! Their new book "The Trick Horse Companion" is available here.


Wyoming Trail Riding

We left Junie and Lena's on Tuesday and went to Granite Creek on the Hoback River just south of Jackson. BEAUTIFUL place in the Gros Ventre Wilderness. Rode yesterday on a breathtaking trail...looks similar to the Wind Rivers, very dramatic with fabulous views.


We lost the trail in mid afternoon in tall bunch grass. It was very steep and we had to walk the horses a lot...too steep to ride. We finally found the trail in the lower part of a drainage or draw that we thougt would bring us back down close to camp but it as getting dark FAST. The trail took us right through a very large and treacherous beaver pond and since we couldn't see where it came out we did not want to chance being swept away so we went up the side a ways and stayed....yes, all night. We made a fire and it was very cold and damp. I was most grateful for my two piece saddle pad!

Kristi stayed awake all night supplying firewood for us. She did not sleep a wink although her knee was pretty sore. Needless to say it was a very cold night. I was afraid for our dogs which were in the back of the trailer. 

This morning there was a very thick fog which made it almost impossible to see the trail for sometime. Of course we had dropped the GPS...


Somewhere in our long hike. We finally got bqck on the trail...had not gone far when we had to cross a pretty deep beaver pond and of course neither horse wanted to go because we had put them through the wringer yesterday. Kristi waded right across, Elle followd and Boullet took a huge leap into it and almost sank!  


After that we were home in about 45 sure tasted great. When we got home it was 9:30 and 43 degrees so it was probably much colder where we were during the night. We were sure happy that we were somewhat prepared as we carry a lot of stuff with us.

Pups were all fine. We lounged around all day resting because we were pretty sore and horses slept most of the day. 

We will probably stay another day and then go on the south side of hwy 191 and go into the Grey's River for a few days. We will let you know.

BTW the dogs were all fine!

Love you all,


The Hoback River, Wyoming
The Hoback River, Wyoming
The Gros Ventre Wilderness
The Gros Ventre Wilderness

Have a Ball with Your Horses!

Click image to view in the store
Click image to view in the store

Ted F. Says: "What a great book! Really! You take people through every aspect, have great pictures and even show readers how to build a pedestal. This should become the main How to Book in the field, and make you and Sue the best known resources in the business."
Thanks Ted!
More info:


The Trick Horse Companion is Here!

Lissa and Minnow
Lissa and Minnow

August 12, 2014

The Trick Horse Companion

Allen Pogue and Sue De Laurentius are pleased to announce the relese of their latest project, their new book entitled "The Trick Horse Companion".


This 242 page hard cover book features over 300 full color photographs that share the step-by-step "enlightened trick trainin' process the authors have made famous through their many clinics and dvds.


Now you can learn with some of the best in the business at yours and your horses' own pace in this accessible guide.


Recent reviews


Winnie Scott from Winsong Farm says:

To me, one of the greatest gifts this book gives is a glimpse into what horses and humans can do together. Allen and Sue with their horses personify: “If you can dream it, you can do it” AND, “Find the magic within you”. Their book answers questions I haven’t thought of. It gives me the tools to teach things I never would have attempted. Allen and Sue, THANK YOU for creating such a GREAT book.


Lissa Burnett-Rabon of Walk With Horses Writes:

I have always thought my Quarter Horse, Minnow and I had a great relationship. He was willing to do what I asked whether it was cutting, stock horse or competitive trail and I was willing to learn how to be a better rider. It wasn’t until I worked with him as a partner teaching him simple tricks like the pedestal and obeisance, that I felt our connection become deeper and more profound. I think he understands that I am interested in real communication and by the results...I think he has become interested in that as well.


Icing on the cake was his new awareness of where his feet were and where his body was in space. This awareness led to better scores and a new trust between us when approaching new situations. The Smile Trick is popular with coaching clients and the face of students when a therapy horse steps up on the pedestal at the student’s cue, makes everyone who is a witness, light up.



This well written, easy to understand book with great photographs that demonstrate the stages of tricks being taught, is like an encyclopedia of how to take your relationship with your horse to the next level. Each time I have had a question, I went to the book, knowing it would be addressed in there and was never disappointed. This is a valuable addition to any horseman’s library, whatever discipline.


Kindness for All

Kindness for All

By Joseph Baker,©2011

Joseph Baker, who writes this post on behalf of Sears, is an avid horse rider and ardent jumper who believes that working with horses improves all areas of life, from patience to proper communication. Additionally, Joseph knows that any miscommunication between him and his horse is probably his fault.


Whether you are a horse owner, or the owner of another kind of animal, it is sometimes easy to take your position for granted, and expect your animal to bend to your will at all times. However, any seasoned animal owner will tell you that, as soon as you have set your mind to a task for your animal, he will dig in his hooves (pun intended) and refuse to comply.


Raising your voice, using intimidation tactics, and punishing your pet won't change this scenario. So how should you react when you are faced with a truculent animal? Kindness and understanding shows your pet that you respect him, and will go a long way toward mollifying your animal, and coaxing him to do what you desire of him.


Comfort Is Key

Oftentimes, when a horse or other pet is misbehaving, it’s because he is trying to communicate something to you. Much like a child who hasn't yet learned to speak, if your pet is uncomfortable, he will try to let you know in whatever way he can. Look around.


Are his quarters clean and comfortable? If not, why not spruce up his surroundings a bit? If his space is dirty and cluttered, take the time to clean it thoroughly. If he is staying where it is drafty and cold, try plugging up any holes and placing a few heaters to warm things up a bit. Remember: a comfortable animal is a happy animal. Take the time to address any needs that your animal may have, and he will thank you for it.


Positively Positive Enforcement

Positive reinforcement works for people and animals alike. Instead of punishing your animal for disobedient or unruly behavior, praise him and offer treats when he does something right. In this way, you are essentially ignoring poor behavioral choices and only focusing on the positive, which naturally encourages more of the preferable behavior.


After all, if given the choice between being in the proverbial dog house and receiving goodies and praise, which would you choose? When administering treats, be sure that you are always consistent and that any treat or praise happens right after the positive action, so your animal will make the association between what it is that he did and the prize that was won. After a while, you should be able to offer fewer treats while receiving the same good behaviors.


Just a Little Patience

Impatience is usually based upon frustration at events that are going counter to how we believe they should. When interacting with your animal, it is important to practice patience at all times. Animals can sense hostility, even when we have taken pains to hide it, and they will react accordingly.


Try to put yourself in the place of your animal; listen to your tone of voice and observe your body language. If you are exuding impatience, then take a step back from the situation, take a deep breath and count to ten, and try again. Learning how to be patient will benefit every aspect of your life, from your interaction with family and friends to the way that you handle everyday stressors at work. In this way, your animal can be your teacher every bit as much as you are his teacher.


For animal owners, the key is to treat your animal the way that you would like to be treated. By showing respect and admiration, rather than being overbearing and punishing, your animal is far more likely to learn the proper behaviors much more quickly than they would otherwise. Just remember to be thoughtful, positive and patient, and the rest will fall into place.


On a Pedestal


On a Pedestal
By Joseph Baker 2011
Pedestal training is so beneficial to horses as a species that it is hard to comprehend that many modern trainers over look it! Virtually every other species of animal trained by man is done so using a “place or mark” or in this case, a pedestal. When considering pedestal training for your own horse, understanding the benefits will make your choice an easy one.
I have heard pedestal training described as yoga for horses, in that it provides it encourages your horse to stretch his hindquarters and back, while providing an opportunity for him to relax his mind. Pedestal training improves your horse's ability to stand quietly and focus, and gives him a place to go and stay.
Improves Your Horse's Physical Dexterity
Mot horses love pedestal training and it helps to develop their physical dexterity, which leads to greater self-confidence and boldness. This, in turn, will make your horse more willing to learn other tricks and tasks, which further benefit your horse. Animal behavioral science as applied to pedestal training has many more benefits than even most horse folks can imagine which is why it should be an essential part of any horse-training regimen.
Instills and Strengthens Your Horse's Willing Obedience
In addition to the physical benefits of pedestal training, pedestal training will work to develop your horse's willing obedience. Before pedestal training begins, your horse should be able to lift each foot on cue, so he will likely already have an understanding of what you ask of him. Pedestal training also helps to develop trust in one another, which will deepen as your horse follows your guidance to learn more tricks or moves from his pedestal.
It is important to note that, the benefits of pedestal work will far out weigh the effort that it will take to build a nice pedestal or a complete set. Pedestals constructed to our specs are safe and sturdy. Even if your horse is the most docile or obedient animal around, always be aware that horse nature is just that...their unique nature and expect the unexpected and be proactive with your training.
When you consider the benefits to your horse, the only question should be why you haven't begun pedestal training your horse before now. So get to work, and remember: this is the beginning of a new paradigm in horse training and the beginning of a wonderful and new relationship with your equine partner. Imagine the possibilities!


Natural Horsemanship Defined

Joe's newest- "Natural Horsemanship Defined"

What we loved about this article is that it is fresh and new and not a rip off of the word "Natural" as in a marketing machine but from the mind and heart of a real horseman.


Sue and Allen


Natural Horsemanship Defined

By Joseph Baker © 2011


Though the practice of natural horsemanship – training techniques based on understanding a horse's herd instincts and psychology – has long been around, the term only came into prominence about 20 years ago with the publication and movie release of Nicholas Sparks' "The Horse Whisperer." The practice has again made headlines with the recent release of the award-winning documentary Buck, which follows natural horseman Buck Brannaman around to clinics he conducts about horse behavior. The humane treatment of animals isn't new, but following the guidelines of natural horsemanship serve as excellent metaphors for life. 


Your relationship with your horse

Natural horsemanship is built on the belief that horses can be trained using trust, respect, and proper communication rather than trying to coerce and intimidate the animal into behaving. Despite your best efforts, animals can still be unpredictable. Animals and humans will always instinctively protect themselves when threatened. Proper training techniques will prevent a horse from relying on its defenses. Convey your message nicely but authoritatively – much like you might speak to a child – and provide positive feedback when appropriate. Form a relationship of mutual respect and always remember to be patient. Frustration is inevitable but it doesn't have to pollute the good work you and your horse are doing.


Your responsibility as an owner

Horse lovers and horse owners are not necessarily the same people. Some may purchase a horse as a source of relaxation, but it is paramount to remember that your horse will still require care and proper instruction. Be mindful of your role in the horse's life. Be smart, reasonable, kind, gentle, and always approach your horse calmly. Know yourself, your mood, and how you react in times of stress. If your horse is acting out, the horse may be reacting to your negative attitude and energy. A horse exhibiting behavioral issues may also have an undiagnosed physical problem. Never assume that your horse is just going to know what to do, no matter how much time you've spent together. Failure to properly train a horse can result in serious injury and the need to have on hand a medical alert system.


Your respect for your horse

Have realistic expectations about what your horse can or can't do, especially if the horse was poorly treated in the past. Invest the time in correcting learned behavior, keeping in mind that realistic goals are paramount to your success as a trainer. Treat your horse as you wish to be treated, i.e., encouraging the animal towards the right answer rather than trying to force the animal to learn. Negative feedback is stressful and likely to prolong positive results. Everyone has a bad day. Before you give up, assuming your horse is purposefully disobeying you, consider the day and your environment. Whether you need to change your perspective and try again or come back another day, know that proper training takes time. Always respect your horse's abilities and limitations.


Anyone can be a natural horseman, whether you choose to define yourself that way or not. Base your relationship with your horse upon respect and open channels of communication; this will help you easily move through your training to a successful outcome.



Who's Joe Baker?

Joseph Baker is an avid horse rider and an emphasis on natural horsemanship. He is an ardent jumper, and exercises skills which lead to practical application of riding techniques.  Professionally, he is consultant working with companies to encourage individual health insurance and wellness as it relates to physical activity.  He believes that working with horses improves all areas of life, from patience to proper communication.  Additionally, Joseph knows that any miscommunication between he and the horse is probably his fault.  You can find some of his other blogging work at and