Performance Horses
Crescent, OK

Jeanne Dial

Click here to edit subtitle


Learning to train your own horse is the most fun you'll have on horseback.

To begin, you should understand how a horse learns, then how to teach him based on that.
  • Learn the language of the horse.  They know nothing when they are first captured/haltered.  Every single thing they learn comes from you.  They aren't born knowing what "whoa" means, that's our word, and we'll have to teach them to respond.
  • They will learn from pressure and reward.  They learn from punishment too, but it's seldom what you want them to learn.
  • You will learn how to control the head/neck/shoulders, the barrel, and the haunches with your body, hands and legs, either together or independently.  Your horse is controlled 90% with your body and legs and only 10% with your hands.  Learn how that works.
  • A horse learns thri repetition.  To teach your horse, take one step at a time, rewarding them when they've done what you've asked.  Repeat the same cue 25 to 35 times, one step at a time, until they can execute with the lightest pressure.
  • Measure your success in small increments.  If your horse is 1% better than they were yesterday, that's success.  In 100 days, they will be 100% better.
  • Light hands make a light horse.  "Less is more," always.  If they can feel a fly on their back, they can feel the slightest movement you make.

Turn on the Forehand

The horse is moving the haunches to the left, while its right front leg stays stationary, balancing the weight of the horse and rider's body. The horse is bearing the weight of the horse and rider on it's right front leg, the axis of the turn. Turn on the Forehand is necessary to accomplish leg yielding and later, flying lead changes.

Leg Yielding
  • The most basic side ways moving maneuvers you can teach a horse.  It comes from leg pressure that moves your horse sideways, with the horse looking away from the direction of travel.  LEVEL: EASIEST
  • From that, the next two steps are developed by refining the leg yielding.  Side Pass: moving more sideways than forward, with the horse looking toward the direction of travel.  LEVEL: MEDIUM DIFFICULTY
  • Half Pass: moving sideways and forward, with the horse looking toward the direction of travel.  LEVEL: MOST DIFFICULT

Turn on the Haunches

Nacona Smith is turning to the right on the haunches by moving the shoulders (reins) right, while the haunches stay stationary, bearing the weight of both the horse and rider. The weight of the turn is on the horse's right hind leg, while the left hind leg "pedals" the turn. This is the first step towards developing spins. Notice the circle in the dirt made by the horse's front feet with the haunches as the center/axis of the turn.



Backing is forward motion put into reverse.


There's seldom a day when I'm not I'm asked, "What bit should I use?"

There is no great answer to the question because it depends on the horse, the rider and what the two plan to do together. The key to a bit's effectiveness or harshness lies in the rider's hands. 

Very simply, there are only two kinds of bits:
Snaffle bit, uses no leverage, applies pressure only on the bars of the mouth. Snaffle is used for green horses.

Curb bit uses leverage (needs a chin strap to function), applies pressure to bars of the mouth, chin and over the top of the poll.

However, there are a million mouthpieces for each one including, solid, broken, linked and twisted, round, oval, triangular, impregnated, etc.