What is the difference between a horseman and a horse trainer? Written by Jesse Westfall

“I’ve been around a lot of people that ride horses. I’ve been around people that ride reining horses, cow horses, natural horsemanship and a multitude of other disciplines. There are many people that can get a horse to do what they want. Some of them can train or teach a horse quickly and others slowly. Some use harsh methods and others use soft methods. The thing that I see that separates a horseman from a horse trainer is that the horseman allows the horse to keep his dignity and the horse still likes the horseman in the end.” -Jesse Westfall

The thing that I see that separates a horseman from a horse trainer is that the horseman allows the horse to keep his dignity and the horse still likes the horseman in the end." -Jesse Westfall


  1. Holger on May 20, 2016 at 2:38 am

    I enjoyed your explanation of a horseman or woman your thoughts was spot on since I meet you a winter ago in Arizona and went riding with you and how you handle your horse you spoke with your heart.Being an older person who is still trying to become a horseman values your words.

  2. sherry martin on May 16, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    A good horseman knows exactly when to “stop” training!

  3. Sallie Hastings Campion on September 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Very well said. I have always said that a person has to become one with their horse.
    Horses,to me are about making your dreams come true.  Looking inside for your inner strength and beauty to find a connection to the world around you. Finding your spirit, your peace within and connecting that peace with their spirit. Intertwine the love one feels for the horse with that connection and there is a bond and trust that allows each work together as one. This allows both to know what the other needs and expects to be able to move in harmony or to know if something is wrong.
    Becoming one.

  4. Kevin Blaine on February 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Being a professional horseshoer past trainer , I guess I see both ways just to be blunt , all to often ” soft training ” is more lack of experience , then sometimes you get a soft easy horse , in my experience I see 10 horses that get spoiled and kick and bite which makes them impossible to do their feet go to the ” trainers ” and ten horses come back kicking and biting , I still love and respect the original horsemanship , the ones who earn respect by giving it and meet aggression with the appropriate back , I’m lost on this new soft thing , u can’t love the kick out of a sour horse , but u can hobble it out .)

  5. Michelle Scanlon on October 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Very well put Jesse! It is what I believe also. You can be one with your horse, by allowing that majestic creature the freedom to follow your wishes. They have to want to do things to please the one asking and anything is possible. I am certain my TWH and I have this bond.

  6. Mel on September 29, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Well said! Yes, and just to add to that I learned from a liberty horsewoman that in her terms, her students are empowered to not use the term “breaking horses” because breaking horses is pretty much the way of training that ultimately “breaks” their (the horse’s) spirit probably using those harsh methods, old school!

  7. Ida Marie Panella Carlough on September 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I have two horsemen in my life my husband Chris Carlough and our friend Sam Powell. I am truly blessed and so are the horses.

  8. Roseann Tode on September 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Kudo’s………..So well said……….. I hope and pray that all my horses have their dignity and self respect……… yes even a horse can have their own self worth..

  9. Kevin on September 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I recently sent a three year old to a freind of mine to be broken to harness as I had just had a hip operation, I knew I had sent her to the right person when I got a message saying “your horse is doing well and she likes me” epitomises what you said Jessie.

  10. Tracy Johnson on September 23, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I believe in using soft methods to teach a horse what i would like him/her to do. Its not fair to the horse to beat him if he doesn’t understand what you would like him to do. I find from seeing people who are harsh to a horse the horse becomes very nervous or he/she shuts down. Which is defeating the objective to teach. Thanks for sharing Jesse.

  11. Lynda Lafontaine on September 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Well said. A “horseman” knows we are trying to build a partnership. Katzarr is so right-slow is fast. We need to allow our horses time to understand and to make little mistakes to build on the relationship. The horseman has to be able to understand the language of the horse and give him time to learn what we want of him. It is amazing to see a horse that wants to please and who is happy to see us when we walk out in the pasture or are working around the barn or corral. My niece has a big QH gelding who, when he sees her Dad taking the trailer out, comes to the fence, ears up and head bobbing, with a “where are we going today” attitude. When this young girl is with her horse, you can see an attitude about him that he will always take care of her. I had a horse like this years ago and several times he saved my hide, because I was not paying attention and could have gotten us in a bad situation.
    Some of us need to work more on ground work and ground manners. It pays off in spades when we get to the riding-no matter what the discipline.
    Rest is reward to a horse-when he does something beautifully-step off-give him rest, a good rub, loosen the cinch and walk back to the barn. Don’t keep repeating what the has done well until it is tiring. He will remember the good ending to that session.
    God Bless and Happy Horse Days to all.

  12. Ronnie Wyczynski on September 23, 2014 at 5:55 am

    That is so true, could not have been said better

  13. Sydne on September 23, 2014 at 3:11 am

    Beautifully said. Every person in contact with horses should always remind themselves of that; every day and every minute they spend with horses.

  14. ferg05 on September 23, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Thanks Jesse. This will keep me grounded! 🙂

  15. Terri Anderson on September 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Love this!

  16. Carroll Sweet on September 22, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Very nice explanation. Thanks.

  17. katzarr on September 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    You would think this would be common sense; COMMON SENSE is very Uncommon; slow is FASTER, training slow will last a lifetime of the horse,; fast is NOT always good,; I can not stand to hear “trainerS” state they can train to ride in 30 days,;BS, this is not trained,; this is at “best” green broke, which is not good,; do not ever believe a person who says they can train your horse to “ride” properly in 30 days.., not going to happen . <3

    • Regine on September 24, 2014 at 5:11 am

      We’re on the same page. Nothing more to add. Well spoken..

    • Savannah Graham on September 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

      I agree with you.

  18. K. Bockus on September 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Well said!

  19. Alice on September 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Awesome explanation, I never thought of it that way. My horse has been to several trainers, and when he came back I could always tell which were the “horsemen”.

  20. bigsistersharon on September 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    That is the best explanation I have ever heard and I pray I am considered a horsewoman.

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