Three Ingredients to a Truly Broke Horse

By Clinton Anderson

Many horses are rideable, but few are truly well broke. I define a well broke horse as one who is quiet, dependable, soft and responsive, in any situation – in the arena or on the trail. Of course, many factors go into how far a horse’s training can go, including breeding, temperament and the method in which he is trained, but there’s a secret formula my mentor Gordon McKinlay taught me years ago that is the absolute key to training. “Clinton,” Gordon used to say, “to get a truly broke horse takes three things: long rides, wet saddle pads and concentrated training – and you have to have equal doses of all three.”

Is this lesson really a secret? Of course not! The key to it that most people miss, however, is that you must have all three things, balanced in three equal parts. Lots of ranch horses get long rides – they’re ridden all day from sunup to sundown, but they’re stiff as a board in their face and body. Plenty of show horses are soft and supple from all the concentrated training they get, but try taking one out on the trail and he’ll probably half kill you as he reacts to and spooks at everything he sees – scary objects, water, dogs, whatever. And, racehorses almost always come off the track with wet saddle pads, but try to do something with them besides gallop and you’ll see what’s missing in their training.

As soon as you have 1/3 that’s bigger than the other 2/3, the formula just doesn’t work as well. However, if you consistently give your horse three equal doses of long rides, wet saddle pads and concentrated training, you’ll have a truly great, soft, supple, respectful and collected horse that you can ride in the arena, compete on, ride out on the trail, use to gather up cattle and know is a safe, dependable partner.