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Friday, June 19, 2009

Guest Blog - Home Made Training Aids

Today we have a guest blogger, Mallory Davis. She is a dear friend of mine and we spend a great deal of time together. She, like myself has a very pragmatic approach to horse training, and does not see the point in spending a ton of money on training aids. She has come up with some good money saving ideas for things that can be made from what you have lying around.

Home Made Training Aids

Training aids don’t have to cost a fortune, you can make your own at home. My favorite training aid is a set of old boat buoys that I can hang from the saddle or surcingle. If you don’t have any of those a set of milk jugs or 2 liter coke bottles would work just as well. It gets the horse used to things flopping around and banging against his sides, and is particularly useful if training a young horse that is ticklish.

Many of today’s popular trainers are promoting their particular brand of training stick, and it is a good idea, but it seems a little ridiculous to pay fifty bucks for a stick. An old bamboo garden stake with a piece of baling string attached works wonderfully. Or if you have trees around your barn like I do just pick up a stick off the ground. Your horse doesn’t care how much the stick costs, to a horse a stick is a stick.

Something else that many trainers have been promoting is the specially designed training bridle, which consists of a headstall with a snaffle bit and reins with a training lead attached. The same thing can be made with your regular bridle; all you have to do is attach a lead rope to one side of the bit. It may not look as pretty as some of the expensive name brand bridles but it works just as well.

And that brings me to the rope training halters. It is simply a piece of rope. Some cost more than others depending on what name is attached to it but anyone can make one almost for free. The internet has dozens of websites with instructions on how to tie a rope halter; all you have to do is find a piece of rope and tie the knots. Even if you don’t have any rope lying around it only costs a few dollars.

Pool Noodles! These are one of my favorites because they’re just fun to play with. The list of things you can do with an old pool noodle is endless. Use them in place of the boat buoys or the stick. Use your imagination.

Look around your barn; what do you have that can be made into a training aid?


  1. I just bought a pool noodle as a training aid at the dollar store. And here I thought I was the only one out there buying "regular" stuff as horse training equipment. I also bought a whole bunch of pool toys, flags, balloons, etc. to desensitize my horses.

    I have to admit though, during a weak moment, I did buy a Parelli carrot stick and lead rope. The carrot stick rope gets wound up around the stick a lot (could be the user?), but I LOVE the quality, flexibility and length of the lead rope and the leather popper too!

  2. My stick I have I bought of e-bay. I wanted one that would last and wouldnt crack if the horse stepped on it which it doesn't. I paid 20$ for it and made my own string for the end complete with leather popper for a grand total of 22$ thats for both the good stick and string. It's not brand name and the lady makes the sticks herself so I know her craftsmanship is in it. Plus my stick has lasted longer than any of the 100$ parelli sticks.

  3. I would like to stress the importance of safety when working with things a horse may react skittish too - especially barrels. I cringe when I see the Parelli's jump them and the barrels are not secured. On the last link I saw some unsecured barrels, and sadly, it's just an accident waiting to happen. You never know when a horse may deer-leap it and smack the barrel - which in turn will make the barrel roll. So use safety as well, when desensitizing!

  4. Tarps are great for walk-overs for the critter that's sensitive with their feet.
    Plastic bags and nylon jackets, in combination with someone that knows what the hell they are doing, are nice for de-sensitizing.
    Then there's the ole $20 stereo to get the animals used to music or weird noises.

  5. bells always sounded like a good one to me, especially after I found out my horse is scared to death of the sound of a wagon being pulled by 6 horses. It sounded exactly like bells.

  6. I have some old metal mailboxes I put in the rp for ground driving training. Drive them by and kick the mailboxes together. Make a wonderful suprise clang in a safe enviornment.

  7. 2 words: Baling Twine. I have seen - and made - more stuff with that!

    It's also easy to stuff a couple loops in your pocket when going for short trail rides.

    Pool noodles rool! ; )

    Tidy Cat square litter buckets make good cavaletti or low jump standards - turn 'em over and they have a nice divot to rest poles on.

    Landscape poles from Lowe's painted white are nice and cheap too!

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