As you likely know already, horses have at least 10 times our strength. If they also had our intelligence, they would probably be riding us humans. Fortunately, horses cannot reason like human beings and therefore will never have superior intelligence.
Since they don't have reasoning abilities, horse training becomes a challenge because you now have to understand how their intelligence works. You have to know what works and why to really be effective.
The biggest secret that makes it so we can train a horse is fear of pain and/or punishment that our creator instilled in their mind. We can use that built-in fear to our advantage and teach horse what we want him to do.
The trick is to not push horse too far with his built-in fear. We must never abuse this knowledge because it will backfire. Once it backfires then we will have problems with horse we're training.
How does it backfire? Let's take a novice horse owner who fulfills his dream to have horses and train them. Unless he's studied a horse's nature he will probably get into big trouble with his horse because of delicate balance of horse's built-in fear.
For instance, very first lesson you must teach your horse is to have confidence in you. If your horse doesn't have confidence in you, he will neither trust you. Both are enormously important to horse training.
Think of confidence in this way. If you're a child who's just seen a scary movie on TV you probably want to sleep with Mom and Dad for night. They'll protect you. You'll be safe with them. Hopefully, you know these things to be true because you have experienced it with your own parents.
But if you didn't feel like they'd keep you safe you wouldn't have confidence in them, would you?
A horse's thinking is similar to that. He must have confidence in you when you're working with him.
A horse can be taught confidence in different ways. I prefer to Jesse Beery confidence lesson.
Jesse Beery, a famous horse trainer from 1800's, uses his confidence lesson as beginning place of training his horses. He said, "This is most important lesson of all."
Interestingly, it's also easiest.
How nice it is that most important lesson is easiest to do.
Essentially, confidence lesson takes advantage of (but never abused) horse's built-in fear. In a way, fear is harnessed and carefully used to get horse's confidence in you. It's akin to getting a child to watch a scary movie and being there to protect him or her when they get scared.
When horse experiences fear, you're there to save day. You make it so he depends on you to be his superhero.
When horse gets fearful, you have to be there to tell him everything is okay. You do that through petting him. Talking to him in a soothing manner. Using a pleasant tone of voice.
I have a friend, Gene, who loves his horses but when they don't do certain things he think they should do, he punishes them. (By punishing, I don't mean he hits or whips. A horse can feel punished just by a threatening tone of voice for example)
Anyway, I rode with a group of people one day and Gene was in our group. We came upon running water. You could call it a small river or a big creek. It was about 30 feet wide and varied in depth from a foot to three feet.