The Nine Biggest Killers of Good Horsemanship

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

These past few weeks have found me on the road teaching clinics, coaching at shows, giving a few lessons, and attending a horse expo.  While on the road and at home I am continually reminding myself of things that can lead to success and failure with your horsemanship.  As I had a chance to take a break today and reflect on the past month I realized I had developed yet another list of things that can hamper our success with horses.

Here is a list of the NINE Biggest Killers of Good Horsemanship

1) Being Distracted.  Your phone or email or texting or concern about something not directly related to your horse and riding can cause you to have bad riding posture, allow your horse to misbehave or lead you to pattern errors.

2) Being Hungry or Thirsty.  If you are hungry (or thirsty) — you are focused on needing something to eat or drink and you then lose patience.  Maybe your blood sugar begins to drop and you feel faint.  If this is happening, you are risking good horsemanship as well as putting your horse’s safety in jeopardy.

3) Lack of Emotional Control.  If you get anxious, worried, angry, distressed or upset quickly — your horse is a mood sponge and feels all these emotions and most likely will act up or try to get away from your emotional state.  The horse does not understand what is bothering you — only that you are no fun to be around.

4) Life Stresses.  If your life has many stresses…this can keep you from riding well or practicing good horsemanship.

5) Micromanaging. If you try and micromanage everything your horse is doing…you will run into some problems with your horsemanship.

6) Being to Hot or to Cold. Extremes of temperature keep you from thinking straight and this can have a negative effect on your horsemanship.

7) Feeling the need for Speed.  In good horsemanship –faster is not better.  Wait a minute all of my friends who ride in the timed events shout at me.  Yes, I understand fast wins…but in the beginning, correct horsemanship, proper training takes time.  Spend the right amount of time early on and you will get the speed you need later — once you and the horse are on the same page.

8) Lack of Support.  All to often I find people who have a horse (or more than one) and the rest of the family is not involved with the horses.  Your horsemanship will suffer if the other family members or friends are constantly trying to pull you away from your focus on the horses.

9) Making it all to complicated.  Keep it simple my friends.  Less is more.  If you want a spin, start with a quarter turn on the haunches.  If you want to jump 4′ 8″, start with 6″ first.  Begin with simple and build on your success.

Make sure to practice good horsemanship, be safe, and watch for these nine items that can take away from your success.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


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