Three Circle Horsemanship

In the equine world things can and do go wrong resulting in various manifestations of unwanted behavioural displays varying from a little bit of head tossing, through to planting, bucking, rearing and more. Although the cause is not always immediately evident, there will be a cause; it may seem like it sometimes but horses do not misbehave or seemingly be awkward just to annoy us! There is either a physical reason causing the unwanted behaviour i.e. pain or discomfort, or it is due to a breakdown in communication between horse and rider (lack of comprehension); with either one not understanding what the other requires.


This can be caused by inconsistencies on the part of the rider, often coupled with a lack of attention to signals given out by the horse that are not recognised and acted upon, or through a general lack of experience or skill of the rider in being able to apply the aids efficiently and correctly.

The training of any horse should not to be undertaken by the inexperienced, but by a good horseperson. If you own a horse you are its keeper, friend, leader and trainer, requirements that will build especially in the young horse just starting out. Unfortunately, many horse owners of young horses have the idea of breaking their own youngster in, but sadly and all too often things go amiss. It takes considerable time and patience (leadership) to train a horse but he does not ever forget the basics of what he is taught, even if he does become a little rusty what and how he is taught remains with him throughout his life, so it is our responsibility to give each horse the best possible training. There are a baffling array of books and videos/DVDs available and of course access to training clinics and demonstrations to provide help and inspiration. But these do not suddenly provide someone with the necessary skills to carry out effect training. Nor does it mean that miraculously the horse will suddenly work out for himself what he is supposed to do.

We believe that at the base of successful training lies the absolute necessity to have the ability to relate to a horse, to form a bond with him, so that he is at ease and relaxed. From this sound and solid foundation a successful working relationship can be built. This means that training is not just about what happens in the training arena but when you ride or handle the horse every day; it comprises the bigger picture of every aspect of a horse's life.

One of the important factors in our training is that we spend quality time with the horses in our care over and above that taken up by training or routine management. This enables us to really get to know each other and ensures that a horse does not continually see us either as a food source or the "nasty person" that comes along and makes him work!

Such an approach not only helps maintain a relaxed state of mind, but also is an invaluable part of the developing relationship required for a successful training partnership and of course is a major part of working with behavioural and anti-social issues.

A horse is totally reliant on his owner/trainer for all of his needs - from basic care and management through to the emotional comfort he requires such as companionship. How can a horse be expected to give of its best or learn properly if there are causes of stress in his home life? So it is an owner's absolute duty is to ensure the daily physical and psychological welfare of their horse; this applies whether the horse is stabled or lives outside.

Being able to interact with a horse in a calm way is a testament to the amount of trust a horse has in a person. If a horse is lay down on the ground he is very vulnerable and his in-built instincts tells him that he should get to his feet the moment someone or something comes into his space otherwise he may be in danger. Time spent with horses in this way is very important to us and it all part of the building of a successful working relationship.

Everyone who carries the responsibility of a horse's education, regardless of its age, should have a basic understanding of herd life, and the behaviour and language that exists between horses.

By studying horses interacting with each other a great deal can be learned about how they think, how they communicate with each other in their natural environment and live together as a herd. Such understanding enables training to be far more successful and rewarding as well as being more beneficial to the horse as he is more relaxed and attentive because you will be communicating in a language he understand - his language.

The statement that "a horse should be treated as an individual" is readily quoted but how many people really do act on this statement? So whilst many more people do accept nowadays the importance of feeding the individual, how many of those people then address other aspects of management and training. Every horse must be treated accordingly to his own unique psychological make-up. For example some horse are happy turned out in a group, others prefer just a single companion, whilst some actually prefer to be on their own (provided they are not isolated from visual contact with either other animals or people). How many people actually adjust their training techniques from horse to horse? Just because one method worked with one horse does not automatically mean that is the best way for another.

Whatever the training being undertaken, a horse should not be frightened into doing anything; it must be allowed to work and develop at its own pace. Successful training is not achieved by bullying, force or absolute dominance. The relationship between horse/trainer or horse/rider is a partnership based on trust and understanding. The lines of communication must be opened and remain open at all times; the trainer must be attentive and be able to 'read' the horse he is working with, anticipate its reactions, know when to ask it to 'give' a little more and when it cannot absorb any more on a particular occasion; this is the secret of successful training and horsemanship. A trainer has to be ready to adapt his ways to suit the horse, not the other way around.

Training should be a positive experience, not a negative one with the trainer literally controlling every move the horse makes, this is achieved by taking control of the mind - we want respect from a horse but not via rough, brash or noisy behaviour and gesticulations. Of course some horses are more challenging and require firm handling but this does not mean inflicting fear or pain.

We want horses to enjoy their work and express their character, so they must be allowed to have some fun. Therefore naughtiness must not be confused with high spirits, playfulness and good physical well-being; take advantage of this and direct the exuberance into an enthusiastic worker. A true horse master is a trainer who can attain results with every horse, not just a select few.

In conclusion: Many people are understandably wary of sending their horses away from home for training. This is not just because they have heard unpleasant stories about inappropriate treatment and training but they are also concerned that their horse may lose its character or that it will stress too much. Our training encourages the development of the individual character; we work with that character not against it. And we have not had a horse yet that has not settled in within 24 hours. 

MFC Equine train a wide range of horses from all equestrian spheres, we have built up a training system which connects with the learning instincts a horse has. By drawing on that wealth of experience and knowledge from great horsemen and women, we proudly produce horses that are forward-going, polite and well-mannered, but above all are confident, happy and full of character and personality because we understand their needs when learning, so they can develop into whatever their owners want them to be in the future.


                                                                                        Mike and Chris, MFC Equine.