P1 – Breaking your own horse to harness – retraining a horse that bolted pulling a tyre.
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P1 – Breaking your own horse to harness – retraining a horse that bolted pulling a tyre.

August 16, 2019


This is a horse that’s come in unfortunately had a bit of trauma; the owner of the horse was breaking it with a tyre on, dragging a tyre, like the books tell you to do. The problem is with all training is, its alright doing it as the books do but when it goes wrong what do you do then? You can ruin a perfectly good horse very easily. The owner of this horse fair play to him, has said he’s made a mistake he’s got it wrong and you only learn by mistakes, any of us only learn by mistakes. The problem is when you involve an
animal in that they can so easily suffer. So this horse was terrified of a tyre, of anything behind him because he’d run off with the tyre jumped out of a menage, as I understand it, uh… jumped over a piece of machinery that’s what I understand I think that’s
right. But uh… basically he’d run away with a tyre on him so obviously traumatised and terrified. What we’ve done now is, I don’t recommend
anybody does this with a horse; this is just to prove to the person that owns the horse that we’ve conquered that fear. So if you look at his head for a start he’s just wearing a headcollar. He’s wearing a loose-fitted headcollar; he’s not wearing a headcollar like some of these so-called uh… people use horse whisperers or whatever they are. He’s got just an ordinary loose-fitting headcollar, a bit too big for him if anything he’s got that just on his nose. Also what we’ve done we’ve put these overreach boots on and bandages. The bandaging itself is half wool, half elastic so we’ve afforded him some protection Now I’m quite happy I would be perfectly happy to drive this horse over here with nothing on his legs I’m not taking this precaution uh… I would be quite happy to have nothing on the horse’s legs at all we’ve trained him to a standard where I know he wouldn’t get into a panic or be upset by it. I’ve got no means of steering him, if you look at this on his head you know its very very loose, there’s no pressure being applied to his nose. So he’s not being forced to do it. Obviously I’ve got to guide him to what I want him to do so that side of it I must guide him, I must have some sort of steering to get him to go where I want him to go no horse is going to want to do what we’re asking him to do as such because it doesn’t make any sense to the horse. We’re just doing this so the owner has confidence in the horse that he’s not going to let him down when he’s put under pressure. Come back. See there that’s a lovely baby And that’s a prime example but he’s not frightened he’s not upset by it, he’s not anything at all other than standing there. Come over baby boy, walk on. Come back. Come round. Walk on. Walk on Good boy. So you can see him looking there and if you look at his back leg, which
is exactly what we’re looking for the horse is completely at rest. He’s holding the tyre up with his foot by standing on it and he’s completely at rest. So, walk on. That’s it. Standing right over it – come back darling. Come back a step There. Feet in it. good boy One of his eyes some people might say he’s a bit “stary” the horse, a bit, you know, well he’s standing there with a leg at rest, one foot in there but one of his eyes, this one as I turn his head round you can see he shows a bit of white round his eye and this eye he doesn’t. Its just the way he is. So its not a case that he’s… whoa my baby boy. Come round there darling baby Walk on. So obviously come over. We’ve got rid of the fear that’s my baby ok. Now what Melanie’s going to do just leave the camera running on there Melanie please Just move the chair out the way, leave it on that thing over there, there’s another chair over there. So Melanie’s just keeping the camera on all the time so you can see you know we’re not doing anything, any
cheating or anything like that Stand still you good baby. Ok if you come over and just hook him on. Whoa baby. So what Melanie’s doing now is just taking down the traces she’s going to pull this back, see it rubbing against his leg remember he’s got no blinkers to protect
him. Yes? He’s got no, anything at all. One thing with the horse I would say that we’re still a little bit concerned
about, its nothing major but still something we’re a litte concerned about is his mouth not that he’s got anything wrong with his mouth but I think when he run he must have caught… when he run away with the tyre he must have caught himself, up, give himself a bump in the mouth. So in the back of his mind, when you touch him with the bit, I’ll put a bit and a bridle on him in a minute and show you but basically I’m just showing you he’ll do it off a headcollar and he’s controllable. Right, walk on. Walk on. Come round. Walk on. Ok. Now you say to me, “Oh yes, but you’re in an enclosed yard, you know, that’s not really… he can’t go anywhere if he wants to!” Can’t hear me very well because we’ve got all this gravel here but here he is on a headcollar, pulling a tyre. Walk on. Come round darling. Now he’s going home now, just watch the tyre. He’s going home now. Come back darling. Back into his stable, so he thinks he’s finished for the day. So we’re making him come back just off a headcollar no bit in his mouth Come back darling Come back baby. Come back baby and both the traces are on his off side, both coming out the side of his legs. We have a motor car coming. Stand still baby when you’re told, good boy. So we’ve got a motor car coming Walk on. And again we’re pulling it now with 2 traces, walk on. Got the metal rubbing on the concrete making a noise. Come over baby. Now come back my darling, come back. You good baby, come back. There’s a baby boy, come back darling. Come back my sweetheart Come back. Come back my sugar plum Come back my baby boy. walk on Whoa. So please don’t think I’m on here to make you know, look how clever I am. I just feel so sorry for when it goes wrong for these horses. And what you have to ask yourself people say… should you… we’re not looking for work. We’ve got more work than we can cope with so we are not looking for work. My sole interest is in horses being looked after, disciplined, nothing wrong with discipline, its a dirty word in this day and age I’m always saying the same thing, its a dirty word Discipline is nothing to do with smacking horses. Discipline is “you will do what you’re told, when I tell you to do it”. They say this natural horsemanship is a partnership between the two, well I call this a partnership. He trusts me one hundred percent and I trust him not to kick me in the face where he’s standing now with flies tormenting him and he’s got all this round his legs. If he was to lunge forwards now or take fright or come back or do anything I’m right behind him. He’s as calm as you could expect a horse to be under these circumstances. Next thing you’re going to ask me “I suppose you’ve drove him twenty miles earlier on!” well you’ll have to take my word for it he’s not been out the yard today. But there he is, standing there as quiet as a lamb I want Melanie to come in front of him now, and touch his nose and make a fuss and then walk away from him but tell him to stand still. Ok? She’s walking away from him, now any horse normally when you rub them, I’m not holding him on these reins you can see them hanging loose when you rub their nose and talk to them like that and also Mel’s the one that does the feeding you’d expect the horse to follow her. People say from all over the world “Oh, aren’t you wonderful, you’re a wonderful horseman” I don’t think that’s the case, what the case is, is to understand them. Understand the problem; try and see the world through their eyes. And all they’re really looking for, they’d lay their life down for you, they’d work until they dropped on their knees and couldn’t
do another step and all they ask is to be loved and cared for and you take charge of the horse. We owe it to them and that to my way of thinking is a true partnership with a horse. That’ll stand there like that when this horse has been here.. How long’s he been here Mel? he’s been here 4 weeks and he come here because he’d run away with a tyre behind him as the weeks go on you’ll see him up on Youtube. So the dear little fellow’s going into HDT um… in a four-in-hand for one of the top drivers in the country. There he is there standing there when I tell him to. Stand still. Now the man’s not been born yet that can stop a horse in a bit. please believe me the man has not been born that can hold a horse in a bit if he wants to run away. So what bloody chance have you got in a headcollar. What chance have you got in a headcollar? We haven’t got it down here pushing on his hooter its up there. There’s a good boy. He’ll stand there till he’s told different So I’ve just asked him now to stand still good boy. And I’m coming off him, stand still – you do, that’ll do. Stand still. Change the tone of my voice Give him the instruction to stand still. I haven’t moved, I’ve just lifted my finger I haven’t hit him… you do, stand still! Bring him back round here Stand still. you stand still. There’s a good baby, good boy. There’s my boy. Good baby boy. He mustn’t be afraid of me whatever I want to do, rub his head, his earholes, this horse didn’t like his ears touched as it happens, he was a bit headshy you know? But I spent a lot of time with him in the stable in the evening getting his confidence.

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  1. Absolutely fascinating and very enjoyable to watch.
    Common sense when training and using a horse means everything to a horse.
    Thanks again.

  2. "Come back my darling, come back my baby boy, come back my sweetheart, come back my sugar plum……. " Put a smile on my face!

  3. Barry Hooks, you have ice water in your veins! THAT is why you are an amazing horse trainer and also why the horses you work with see you as their herd leader and have amazing trust in you. What you have cannot be replicated in most people. You do not get worked up, nervous or unduly upset and the horses respect and learn from that. You truly are gifted. It is a pleasure to watch you at work. Thank you for sharing your videos.

  4. You should see "George training a horse to drive single". It illustrates some folks' love for ropes and restraints….not a "method" I'd think would create a reliable horse, but not unusual for the type of person who would use check reins and martingales to "hold" a horse where they want 'im. I'm glad there is someone like you who takes the time to show that training is common sense used with voice, the "time it takes", and consistency, all while building trust one step at a time.

  5. Thanks for your comment; the contraption in that video is actually based on a similar device thats been used for hundreds of years for training horses – before the advent of pulling tyres! The principles behind it (when used as intended) are sound, but I don't have any time for this method of using it, or the man's attitude (anyone who chains a horse2the back of a trailer+pulls it along is, in my opinion, no horseman) but ironically the device itself when used correctly is safe and kind.

  6. It provides a safe environment for the horse2get used2the shafts, the pulling/motion of a rolling vehicle, the confines of harness etc. If the horse jumps forwards or startles he doesn’t receive a jerk in his mouth because you are sitting on a platform behind (as opposed to long-reining where you might stumble/trip up). It should not be used to “tie the horse down” or chase him round with a whip as shown. Its not the equipment itself, its the manner in which its being used that is the problem.

  7. Some people would think nothing of confining horses on a modern horse walker with electrified panels/barbed wire behind them to force them to move, or tie them up with tight side reins on a metal bit/hang on their mouths while long-reining; in our opinion that is not kind training either, but the basic principles of using a horse walker/side reins/long reining are good when done properly. As you say, building trust (not only in the horse itself, but trust in the driver) is crucial.

  8. I think it is the attitudes of the users of tools that gets me worried. I see people here too often using tools as shortcuts. I get sensitive because I have had my horse at boarding barns where people regularly use "ropes and pullies" in place of proper riding. Anyways, I do understand what you are saying. I am glad for that there is someone out there like you who takes the time to make all the videos you do and who spends the hours with them that results in trust. Thanks:))

  9. really inspiring to see someone who cares so much for the horses welfare and doesn't just bully them into submission.

  10. Love the comments about "natural horsemanship" I was confused when they were saying they do natural horsmanship and in the next breath they have a restriction halter on the horse and using a whip!!! I have done correct natural horsemanship which is NO WHIPS;SPURS;GADGETS OF ANY KIND. I do discipline but not using violence. So nice to see someone who also uses correct natural horsemanship,true trust and partnership. All you parelli converts have been duped,all you are training is fear.

  11. I wish someone would show just one example of how to condition a young horse to pull. The right approch. Instead of showing the results. Show the method. I have a 4yr old mare that is afraid of anything new. I have to tie her to a tree and gently show her stuff like the harness, the collar, etc. She will bolt when I show up with something strange in my hand.

  12. The problem is there isn't any one single "right method". The approach we used with this horse might be entirely different to the approach we would use with a mare like yours. This is why we don't show the "method" – because it might be entirely unsuitable for another horse. Many books have been written about how to break horses, but every one is an individual. The A-Z method may work for some horses but it doesn't work for every horse and when it goes wrong nobody tells you what to do then.

  13. Sadly its always the horse that ends up suffering (as in this case, bolting with a tyre) whereas with the right training approach for this particular horse the tyre is no longer a cause for fear. We have been offered a lot of money to make a "step by step guide to breaking" video/book, but we encounter so many horses that have been messed up due to people trying to do things by the book or by following rigid training plans – we believe you cannot write books/make films about how to break horses.

  14. Thank you Barry. I notice you have boots on the horses hoofs. I won't shoe my horses. And I was told to use boots for there feet when driving. What do you recomend? I have been told by my Ferrier that as the nails grow you need different sizes.

  15. We do shoe our horses; this horse is wearing overreach not hoof boots. We've tried using boots before but they wear down too quickly (in order to get the horses good in traffic, they need to go on the roads regularly and therefore we have to use metal shoes – the rubber soled boots are no good). Boots can also cause more problems than shoes with brushing/leg injuries especially if driving multiples. Barefoot is fine if you work mainly on grass etc, but for the work we do it is not an option.

  16. I'm not familiar with the term "restriction halter"… could you explain? Sounds nasty to me. As for whips/training sticks, when used properly (for both sensitizing and desensitizing) they're great tools. Considering the horse has 2000+ pounds of force behind a kick, I like to know I can touch him without him being able to touch me, at least in the beginning. Um… You know that Parelli teaches a lot of confidence and little discipline, right? You're mixing up your horsemanship methods….

  17. Looks like you saved a beautiful creature from a sad fate. I love watching your videos and absolutely love the way you speak to these horses! 🙂 Makes me smile. I have a Perch cross who I'm sure has been driven before. She's now 8 yrs old and I've had her for about 2 years. She long reins beautifully – bitless and I've been thinking about getting her into driving. You have some very smart training techniques. What do you think I could get her started pulling? tyre/bottles/ropes/noisy things ?

  18. I found the bit on shoeing interesting. I can understand why you don't do it as you are schooling horses, but I drive my 13.2 mare barefoot and bitless ( I use a flower hackamore). I use hoof boots on her for a longer drive, but drive her barefoot regularly to keep her hooves down. I then just have to do minimal trimming myself.
    I LOVE what you share on here and wish every horse could have the great start that you give them. Keep up the good work. X

  19. I couldn't agree with you more. We have a saying in the Southern U.S.A. ; you can catch more flys with sugar then you vinegar.

  20. Very smart man. but in this video as well as a few others…No matter the horse….SHE SHOULD NOT BENT DOWN BEHIND IT!!!!!!

  21. I'm curious to see what you think about the Monty Roberts head collar as far as I've seen and a they've explained it seems humane and good enough to be used as a bridle.

  22. I love the fact you use a regular halter. It's beautiful to see the horse respond to verbal commands. I am hoping to get formal driving lessons myself before acquiring a trained harness horse for my own. Other than a good mind, is there anything you look for in a good driving horse? P.S. I'm in the USA so Standardbreds, Belgians, or miniature horses are the usual breeds that are plentiful with driving experience.

  23. General. We all use the word Braking. I suggest the word Trusting or another what do you all think, its a new generation and I think we owe it to our 4 legged friends. As I say horses are not a plug and play. There are our equal all the lack the speech.
    Here is a person who respects his 4 legged Friends.

  24. I don,t see two wheeler carts driven by horses. The Egyptions and Romans were using these horses in two wheeler vehicles, and these were called ' cheriots'. Instead of riding on the horse, cheriots can be used for transporting from one place to another. At the most four horses are used. That was a big invention of its time.

  25. This is what I'd love to do with my horse. It's what he was built to do. He would look amazing pulling a gipsy caravan. But can't afford it.

  26. how wonderful and amazing. I would love to see this process of how he went from when he came spooked to how he is now. just to see the process. I had no idea you could get so precise with long reins and so few vocal commands. I am only now interested in a working horse. I have just received a horse, my therapy horse who is standardbred. she wants to work and I need help on the land, pulling small logs and hauling a wagon with goods as I work to move to a more off grid life style. (very good for mental and emotional health) I adore how this gentleman speaks to the animal. I think pulling is something her mind would enjoy. she loves the natural horsemanship and liberty training, always looking for "what do we get to do next". she just isn't the sort to do the overly lovey dove thing until she is ready for a nap. This video was just amazing to watch. I want to learn. I love how the horse listens to his voice. Smart boy.

  27. Please take an enhaler or something I have asma and I sound like that when I don't take it. It's really hard to talk when your out of breath like that

  28. I just LOVE YOU and how you train! I believe in the same thing! I NEVER EVER use a bit. Not on all 8 of my horses and never will with any of my rescues ( I rescue horses/ donkeys, mules, zebras, minis, ponies) from slaughter/ kill pens and the LAST thing these guys want, is a bit or to be hit! THANK YOU for this video and i will follow you. Maybe you can check my channel out sometime with me and my rescues. Thank you and looking forward to more! 🙂

  29. You are totally a man after my on heart …. you are so sweet to these animals.  We need more trainers like you in the world.

  30. I swear that horse gave the tyre a couple of extra stomps when he could, as if to say "Yeah tyre, not so tough now are ya!?" The revenge must have been sweet for him.

  31. You're adorable. You're so so good with your horses. Love how you handle them and talk to them.

  32. If I remember this was the first video I ever watched on your channel and I'm glad I found you guys. I have been watching for a few years a like how you handle and help train horses to have a better life, they deserve it. That horse is adorable, he's improving which is good. Lol from his appearance I'd call him Harvey (Harvey two face from Batman XD) I hope that horse is doing well!

  33. I wish I had somebody like you around here to help me train my mare to drive. Taught her to about the harness and ground driving as a young horse, but never made it any further. Now I would love to pick back up on her training, but the only people that know how to drive around here are the Amish, and I am not a fan of their methods.

  34. Barry I love the way you are around the horses its great to watch. I have a 16 yr old cob who through more luck than judgement rides and drives. He is the sweetest natured old fella you could wish for. I bought him at 5 months so we have a long standing relationship. I had no idea about driving but went ahead and bought myself a trap and harness anyway. His entire training was me long reining him whilst dragging the trap behind him, he made no fuss so I attached him and we have never looked back. I totally agree with your view on the bit and stopping and I have been riding driving him bitless now for approx 18 months. With no problems at all. I am learning so much from watching your videos, thank you. By the way my boy is entire as well.

  35. What you are doing is highly dangerous. You have lose leads and straps the horse is pulling something that he can easily get entangled. The only reason why that horse is not freaking out is it has a calm temperament. You are really putting that horse in danger of braking his legs and you are also putting your self in danger numerous times. You are giving people very dangerous information. If you had a real untrained horse you would end up in the hospital and the horse would have to be put down due to injuries. Just Stop before you get someone and their horse hurt.

  36. What a beautiful horse. You and Mel are so sweet with your horse, I tear up. Handsome dark chestnut color and cute face. What kind of horse is he? I can't identify him.

  37. Their ears are what they protect the most.

    If he'd been traumatised through the actions of a human it's not surprising he wasn't keen on having them messed with

  38. I has seen this video as sugestion. I read the title, clicked in it hit pause than red the descrition. Sir, You made me to subscribe your channel, even before seing the video. I feel I have to learn a lot from You.

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