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QUESTION:

I'm 16 years old and from Virginia. I like working with horses. I broke a three-year-old small pony for my three-year-old brother. I would like to work with more horses. What is the best way to learn?

- M. S.


ANSWER:

If you've already succeeded in training a pony well enough for a three-year-old to ride, I'd say you've got the "right stuff" and are well on your way toward working with horses. Books and instructors will help you refine your skills, but you need to actually work with the animals in order to develop the alertness, patience, dependability and other traits so essential to good horsemanship.

You didn't tell me if you live in a rural area, but from your pony experience I'd guess that you do. Look around your area for a trainer who has a good reputation. (You can scout them at your local fairs and horse shows.) Then approach him or her and volunteer to help as a stable hand in exchange for instruction as a trainer. Some may even offer to pay you a bit, but don't count on it.

In addition, I highly recommend the John Lyons newsletter, "Perfect Horse." At the regular price of $45 a year (12 issues) it may seem expensive, but he's one of the best in the business, and I've never seen an issue that wasn't well worth the money. (The Perfect Horse web site offers a special price of only $24 for 12 issues.) You can subscribe by contacting:

By the way, I'm not connected in any way with John Lyons, and don't make a cent from recommending his magazine. I just think he's very good. On the other hand, if you decide to buy the John Lyons book mentioned on my "Learning More About Horses" page (or any other book, for that matter), I'd appreciate it if you'd use the Barnes and Noble link further down on that page to place your order. Aside from the fact that you'll get a discount price on your book purchases, I also stand to get a small commission -- which would help me cover the expenses involved with this web site! End of commercial! ;o)

Happy Riding!

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