Newt conquers standing on the box…but what motivates my horse?

When I set up the video camera on day seven of teaching Newt to stand on the box I didn’t know exactly what I would do with the footage. I did know that I was spending a lot of time laughing at my horse…and I was really enjoying watching him learn. As I stood there watching Newt, it reminded me of watching my children when they were young and were playing on the playground. What age does a child start climbing to explore their surrounding? How many mistakes do they make while they learn about gravity, their body and their surroundings? And how do we respond as parents?

That last question is a biggie. All parents should protect their children. Some parents protect too much, restricting anything that can be perceived as dangerous…even if the real risk is low. Other parents allow so much freedom that their kids appear to run wild. It is obvious that there is a wide view out there as to what children should be allowed, encouraged or restricted from doing.

I believe that a horse can learn responsibility and that they learn it in a very similar way as children. It is our responsibility to challenge them but to also set them up for success. I show my horse the answer several times and then allow him to find the answer…then repeat. Mistakes are allowed but the risk is reduced because I do the training in small steps. Last year Newt crossed a man-made ‘bridge’ at home similar to one that would be found in a trail class. Now he is learning to carefully place his feet as he stands on this small box. Maybe next week we will be walking the ridge of a canyon…

I didn’t intend to use the audio from this video when I was filming it but many of you asked to see more of Newt and the bridge. This video is from day ten and is the first day that Newt stands on the box. I left the original audio where I am talking to my husband, Jesse, and Newt. Yep, I talk with my horses when no one is watching.

If you watch nothing else, watch from the four minute mark until the end. What was captured on film in that minute and a half was a total accident…but is hysterically funny!

If you would like to see some of day seven: click here. 

If you would like to know WHY I am teaching Newt this: click here.


  1. Kailey on January 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Who is Jesse riding in the background?

  2. Kailey on January 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    So cute! I love how curious he is and how he really wants to figure it out

  3. Anna Berlinger on January 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I am working on trying to get my horse to work on a box. We’ve got walking and standing down (it’s not that small) but I can’t get her to go over it backward. Each time I try, (tapping her front legs with a training stick and cueing her for a back) she just gets frustrated, side passes and starts to fight. Afterward, she wouldn’t even respond normal to the leg tap for a back up; she started side passing. And yes, like Pam Millspaw said, how can you get him to try on such a loose lead? Whenever I give mine that much slack, she just starts to walk away from it. Thanks

  4. […] my blog titled Newt conquers standing on the box…but what motivates my horse? I describe how children, at a very young age, are allowed to play on things like this and even […]

  5. barbkeith on January 12, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I think the audio was so important here. To hear your’s and Jessie’s reactions makes the training session that much better. I loved hearing you cheer when he got it. And you are showing those of us learning from you that it is ok to make some noise, especially when things go well. Newt didn’t even react when you yelled.

  6. Maria on January 12, 2015 at 8:13 am

    So fun to have thinking horses like Newt, instead of horses brooken as “robots”.

    Had once a horse that at first was so scare to walk over an bridge that he rather jumped or threw himself backwards. So I took a wooden board on the ground and started to give him a treat each time he placed a hoof on the board. After some training we had two hoof on and then he got the thing. After that training you could let him lose and he went to the brige, walked on and was waiting there to be rewarded. I love useing treats when training, but it takes more of you as a trainer to use treats rigth. The horses is nerver alowed to “take” a treat just becuse the want, they need to do something to get at treat.

  7. Lynn Brooks on January 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Love this! Go Newt and thank you Stacy for sharing 🙂

  8. Lesia Lowe on January 10, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    YAYYYYYY “Noodles”… ya did it!!!! 🙂

  9. Rosie on January 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks so much for including the audio, I love listening to you as you work with your horses – very inspiring !!

  10. Terri Anderson on January 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    This is great! Love it! Not sure if this is an appropriate place, but wanted you to see my Face Book page for my new horse business!,

  11. Katie Riddle on January 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I love this! Back in the fall I was at a trail ride and Perfect Partners Equine was there with their obstacle course for riders to ride through. One of the obstacles was the pedestal/box. My 7 year old, very laid back, and I suppose slow learner quarter horse would paw it, sniff it, put one foot on it but would not put both front feet on it. I only wanted two feet on it….I wasn’t even going to try for all four! It took us about 2 and a half hours off and on. We would try for awhile, leave it, do something else, and come back. Finally, he got his two front feet on it and stood there probably 5 minutes while I was rubbing and petting him, like oh this is what you wanted me to do? I eventually want to build one for us to play with! Thank you for sharing!

  12. tigerimac on January 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I love how he really stays calm while working thru the best way to conquer that thing!! I also love hearing you and Jesse laughing and talking and being a part of this with Newt!!

  13. Holly on January 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    If someone fed me dark chocolate I would stand on a box 🙂

    • Stacy on January 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Great point! I would too…

  14. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel on January 10, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    This even got my non-horsey husband to watch. 🙂

  15. Sandra Wright on January 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Adorable! 🙂 “You keep unwrapping those treat, Mom, I can stand here all day!”

  16. westchesterscrapper on January 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    that was so “brilliant”!

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