Do you believe there are horses that cannot be trained?

hi Stacy, i have kind of a strange question. we adopted this 4 year old morgan.sometimes he’s a very good boy, other times crazy and dangerous. we have taken him to 2 different trainers. one trainer gave up and kicked us out. he said there are 2 different horses in him. the trainer where he is now says he is the first horse he can not train. he says there is something wrong upstairs (if you know what i mean). he says he is dangerous and not trainable. my daughter is 17. she will not give up on him and i worry for her sake. but we both love him. my question is do you believe there are horses that can not be trained? i hope you can answer this and maybe give me some belief that they are wrong. thank you so much. Mary

You have asked for a big thing-how to give you hope without giving you poor advice. First off, I cannot speak directly about your horse. I do not know him. I also cannot judge him by the two trainers as I do not know them…but it isn’t a good sign that they both had the same idea.

You can find story after story about horses that were once ‘crazy’ and someone got through to them. I do believe that this happens.  I also do believe that a certain number of humans, people, struggle with chemical imbalances, etc in their brains. I believe that a certain number of dogs struggle with similar issues. And I believe the same is true for horses.

Thankfully it is pretty rare. But I do think it happens. I know that this is not much of an answer but it is the best I can do in an email. Consider having more professionals evaluate him. Look for someone who specializes in troubled or problem horses and/or natural horsemanship.  And please be safe.



  1. Branwen Sloper on February 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I took on a horse that was considered dangerous and unrideable. He was very irritable on the ground and would lash out if you tried to touch his body. He also cribbed very badly which raised a suspicion of gastric ulcers. I treated him with medication and within 48hrs he was much happier. Within a month (with a fibre only diet) he was the sweetest horse on the yard. Everyone loves him and, despite being 16.2hands, my 8year old daughter was able to showjump him (safely) at a show less than 6 months after he came to us. I guess we were lucky that the first thing we tried worked, but there is always a key – it is just a case of finding it. Remember though – you cannot help your horse if you are injured so be careful and look out for your safety at all times. I have found that horses are difficult for one of three reasons -they are hurting, afraid or don’t understand.

  2. […] is a comment made by Chris on the post ‘Do you think all horses can be trained’, I added the blue color because it reminded me of something: see my comment […]

  3. Ernest on January 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I entered a reply last night but I guess that it wasnt liked well enough to be posted. I have been training Good horses for 40 years,and most started out as Problem horses, I mainly buy Problem horses so that they can learn that even Male humans can Love them as if they where family and brothers and sisters. most horses that I have to sell to people after they(the horses) have been re-loved and trained, I dont want to see go away. But they will be loved by their new family. so sorry if it wasnt good enough for you, I will keep reading but as for posting well…………..Probibly not. Thank you…

    • Stacy on January 17, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Ernest, Please don’t take it personally that I didn’t approve it faster. I did approve it before I found this post. Word Press makes me approve each new person posting (which is good because you should see some of the TRASH spams stuff that gets on here). I think once you are approved, like you have been on both of your comments now, you are open to post without me approving again. Sorry it took me awhile. I don’t open the comment section every day due to….life:)

      • Chris on January 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

        What a bunch of great comments!
        My insight is that I also cannot comment on this individual horse.

        I do know there are horses with phisical and mental limitations. There are horse person combinations that do and do not work.

        However, I know most of all there are horses who are too dangerous for the wrong owner. If your trainer tells you the horse is too dangerous you should carefully evaluate the risk to yourself and others.

        Most important – if you try another trainer BE HONEST! They deserve to be fully informed. There is nothing worse than finding out the owner knew about a problem but did not consider your health and safety.

        • Stacy on January 21, 2012 at 9:56 am


          Your comment made me laugh! How true that is. I was a few years into being a ‘trainer’ before I figured out this: When someone is bringing you their ‘broke’ horse for a ‘tune up’ you HAVE to have them ride it for you! On the phone or in person (without their horse) they would say ‘he just needs a spin or a lead change put on him’. The first few horses that threw fits, bucked, reared, etc gave me the idea of having the owner ride. It was always intersting when the owner was dropping them off to say ‘OK, why don’t you show me what he can do so I can get started”. All of a sudden confessions of…’well, sometimes he bucks’ ‘well, he really doesn’t like being saddled’, etc would come out. It got to the point where I would tell people that if they wouldn’t ride them for me I would start from scratch. You can take a well trained horse through all the ‘colt starting’ steps in one session…unless they have holes.
          Thanks for your comment. It brought back great memories!

      • Ernest on January 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        sorry , I’ll waite longer next time. thank you.

  4. Shirley on January 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Finding the root cause of the horse’s problem is the issue on whether or not it is trainable. Thorough vet checks, Chiropractic check, equine dentistry, are all avenues that should be explored before writing any horse off. Saddle fit and finding out as much as possible about the horse’s history also factor in. But in the end, the decision belongs to the owner, and safety is the key issue.

  5. Ernest on January 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I know that this is going to sound stupid. (now that I got that out of the way) Have you tried to train the horse the Indian way? 1.) you have to start over, just like you have to do with a wild mustang, you need to build his (or her ) trust in people. you slowly sidestep tword the horse with your arm outstreched, not tence but out, with your hand sideways, your fingers slightly bent and wiggling a little, Make sure you are NOT looking at the horse, look at the ground between you and the horse and use your outside vision to watch the horse. If he -she flinches backoff a little lower your arm and just stand there….. for about 5 minutes, then try it again, do this as many times as it takes.( it may take 5 times or a thousand times it depends on the horse DONT FORCE IT!!) Keep trying untill you can tough and even scratch its shoulder, do this many times. when this is a normal thing for the horse then we go on to step 2.) now that you can scratch its shoulder expand on that, scratch up tword its whithers, do this slowly, make it feel good to the horse not you, your fingers will get dirty doing this, this is normal! just keep doing it over and over untill the horse looks foward to you comming to scratch it. you need to progress this untill you are scratching the horse all over without the horse flinching at all and he likes it!! then we go on to #3) this is the time that you introuduce the horse to a horse brush(Yes do this again) as with #1 and #2 do it this way or it wont work, but you might be able to start closer to the horse, you need to start at the left sholder and work progresivly outword so that you are ending up brushing the whole horse every time, this means the top to the bottom the front to the back, legs, belly, back everywhere! ( if the horse wants to smell the brush or you or anything else at any time that you are doing these things That is normal let the horse do that, no bitting) Tips- Do this with all things that you do with your horses, you will get to know your horses and they’ll get to know you as well.

    • Erin/IAm on March 7, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Ernest…Looove the Native Way…esp. with horses. Stacy sooo reflects that Oneness! Sooo miss Gauani Pony Boy, too!
      Sure wish folks took as much time & enjoyed playing off & with their steeds as much as they want to get on & go…The shared Earth connect brings the grandest communion. Thanks for the share!:)

  6. stonepony1 on January 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Lots of good comments. I do not know if there are horses that cannot be trained but I know that humans are often the cause of horses that are considered untrainable. Many times it is kind loving well meaning people that really love their horses and spoil them so terribley that they become dangerous. I have run into this situation more than once. Most people, even many trainers do not know how to fix a horse with a serious problem. The question is how much time and money do you spend on such a horse with no guarentee it will become a good using horse. Some horses are like what Nancy said. But, many horses are not that easily fixed.

  7. Amanda on January 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I own a horse that could have been “dangerous” in the wrong hands. It took me six months to figure out what her language and appropriate currency was to get her working with me. She has a fantastic work ethic now, but I truly had to “think outside of the box” to find it. These days, she is still not an uncomplicated ride and she could definitely escalate a situation to be dangerous if given the opportunity, BUT – she and I get along very well and she has turned into the kind of horse I can load in a trailer and go on a four hour trail ride on when she has been out of work for a few weeks.

    With that said… I truly and sincerely believe that there are horses that are “too far gone” and it is not shameful or make you a bad person to give them the peace that they simply are not going to be able to get through humans – a humane end. Like the horse mentioned above, featured in the documentary, Buck, there are much worse things that can happen to these “dangerous” horses than a humane euthanisation.

  8. Tabitha on January 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I had a horse that was like that and i gave him to one of my friends and i told them that this horse may not be good for them.I could not get this horse to stop raering up in the air.I could not even sattle this horse .So they took the horse and they do what ever they want with this horse.Some horses just don’t like certain people.I would try giving or trading this horse .good luck. know how you feel

  9. Janet on January 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I think Stacy is on the right track here with an chemical imbalance or maybe if you check back he may have been line bred, and is some cases this type of breeding can cause unuseal problems. I have a Walker. He is fantastic except you can be assure that on the thrid time of doing anything he will have a reaction. Like being tied for the farrier. He is great untill the third time and he will all of a sudden start going nutsoid pulling back, or the third day you wanna ride him he will take off on you running in circles. That’s just his quirks. As for your horse, I don’t know. A friend of mine this past summer bought a horse, that no one could do anything with, and there was a reason why, she would not give into the trust of the human, no matter what I tried, her eye wanted to but her brain wouldn’t let her, she was dangerous, I have only seen this one other time in my life and I really don’t wanna see it again, but we in the pen with her not doing or asking anything of her, and I seen a flash of red in her eye, and she came at the both of us ready to kill. I have no answer except be safe and careful and she may just be too much horse. Now if she is a great bucker you might wanna consider selling her for bucking stock, I know there she will be well taken care of and if she love to buck then let her do her job,

    Great Question.

  10. nancy mcmillan on January 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Dawn- He is 16 now and I still own him. 🙂 He is probably the most steady trail horse I have been on. Nothing ruffles him. We have had deer leap up from ferns less than 10 feet away, quail fly in front of him, barking dogs run under him. He never even flinches. He really is unflappable.
    For the original poster- she didn’t say if he was a gelding or a stud. Some studs make great geldings.Also morgans (especially the old style ones) are built a little differently, than the modern QH. It is possible that saddle is playing an issue.

  11. Dawn Beard on January 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Nancy…. what became of this horse?

  12. nancy mcmillan on January 14, 2012 at 8:51 am

    If it were my horse, I would start out by looking at tack or to see if there a medical issue with the horse. The first horse I trained as an adult was described as”cinchy”, “humpy” and “aint broke” As training progressed, one minute he would be fine, the next he would throw himself down onto the ground or flip over. I had friends telling me that I should give up on him- but there was something he was trying to tell me. Had vets come look, but they saw nothing.Then one day I realized I had to start thinking differently and look at what the common denominators were instead of just being frustrated at his behavior. It was right there. Saddling was causing him to go into flight mode. Sometimes he tolerated it longer than others, but that was always the common denominator. I then began learning about correct saddle fit- the more I learned, the more I now understood what this horse was acting the way he was. The final solution was came one day when I was getting photos for a saddle company to size a tree. I was directly behind him on a bale of hay taking the photos. . There it was, there was a slight twist in his spine..An equine rehab therapist helped me get him properly aligned and gave me exercises to help get his back muscles keep the adjustment in place. Long story short, if I had not looked beyond the initial issue, this horse would have been written off. As it was,until I bought him, the next day he was due to go to the auction as an unbroke 7 year old with behavior issues. His fate would not have been good. In the end though, I learned more from this horse than I ever did from a horse that did not have issues. Often its a matter of perspective and what you are willing to learn.

  13. Dennis on January 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I saw a situation like this in the documentary, Buck. The history of the horse needs to be determined to figure out how to work through the particular horses problem. In the movie, the horse in question had to be pulled from the mother at birth. The mother was dead and the foal suffered an oxygen deficiency. The problem horse was removed and put down after it attacked and injured the trainer at the request of the owner. Buck commented that if that horse had been worked with in a way that dealt with it’s mental state earlier on, it would have turned out to be at least a useful horse.

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