Training has come a long way since the days when the term “breaking a horse” could have very well meant just that. Everything from sacking out, a process by which a horse is tied and hobbled before being pummeled with empty burlap bags meant to subdue and intimidate, to the use of cruel mechanical devices, has fallen under the heading of “training.” Therefore, it’s not surprising that often the results have proven to be nonproductive, with permanent physical and psychological injuries having been inflicted upon countless horses.
Over the last two decades, with the tremendous growth in equestrian pursuits has come a corresponding awareness and concern for improving equine health, care, and management. This has had a profound effect on training methods as well. According to the American Horse Council (AHC), those involved more for pleasure than for profit have determined horse industry growth. The horse industry supports a wide variety of activities in all regions of the country, contributing $112.1 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and providing 1.4 million full-time jobs. With 7.1 million Americans involved in the industry, 4.3 million of whom participate in leisure-time activities, 3.6 million in showing, 941,000 in racing, and 1.9 million as horse owners, there has become a definite need for qualified people to supply and service the equestrian community.
The AHC makes a special note to point out that it is neither the investor nor professional who sustains the horse business. Because the pleasure rider makes up the majority of the market, many of the horses sold are going to first-time owners. These people have a significant bearing on the revenue generated in the market, and they are influential in encouraging higher standards of equine welfare.
Thanks to them, the quest to understand and connect with a horse’s natural behavior has taken center stage as a means of communication,