Training aids are supposed to be helpful to your horse and make it clearer to him what you’re asking for – not cause confusion or, worse still, discomfort. Follow these golden rules to make sure you choose the right gadget for your horse’s way of working and level of training:
– Before using any training aid, be sure your horse is physically able to do what’s being asked. Using any gadget when a horse has an underlying problem will only make it worse.
– Do your research – make sure you’re clear how your chosen training aid works and whether it will suit your horse. Think about how it acts, whether it principally affects the head carriage of your horse, the lateral movement of your horse’s body, or if it acts on his whole frame.
– Be clear how to release and reward – Does it rely on you recognising and reacting to your horse’s good work or is it operated just by the horse’s actions?
– Find out how to fit your training aid correctly – In our experience, many do not come with any instructions, so read up in books and magazines and seek advice from an experienced horse person. As a rough guide, aim for your horse’s head to be slightly above his withers.
– All training aids should be carefully introduced – in a safe setting such as an enclosed arena. Have an extra pair of hands available to hold your horse while fitting, and put them on the loosest setting initially so your horse gets used to wearing it. Then adjust gradually.
– Consider the bit you are using with your chosen training aid – is it suitable? In general, stick to a snaffle, especially if it’s to be combined with an aid that’s acting on the bit.
– Do not expect instant results – Your horse may go better straight away but don’t expect this to carry through to the rest of his work until he has a chance to build muscle. Keep lessons short to avoid the risk of injury, gradually increasing the length of time you use the aid, and the level at which you expect your horse to work.