The Original Introduction to
Prof. Jesse Beery’s
Mail Course in Horsemanship
Original Copyright 1908
First, a note from Charlie Hicks
What follows is the original introduction to the famous Prof. Jesse Beery horse training home-study course. Jesse Beery was extremely well known in his day and travelled far and wide teaching, displaying and showing his horse skills to thousands.
Over 100 years later, this course is still highly referenced and used for quality horse training. His skills and methods have been proven over and over again and are still most adequate today to train any horse.
If you have been having trouble controlling and commanding your horse to do what you want it to do then this course is of extreme value to you. If you’ve ever had problems with a horse crowding you, had trouble lifting their feet, had trouble with them rearing or kicking and dozens other problems, then you can appreciate the methods that are so well presented by Prof. Beery. Also, if you’ve ever had an interest in teaching your horse various tricks then you’ll love this course! Prof. Beery shows you how to train your horse to a variety of tricks that will amaze all your friends and pros alike.
Please take a look at the material enclosed. It is what Prof. Beery used to pre-sell his mail course. Understand that some of the original graphics and pictures didn’t scan well since they were printed on dark paper. Most of the graphics in the eight volumes are quite clear. Keep in mind – the horse has hardly changed and the same, proven methods are still successfully used today!
You’ll definitely enjoy the entire course. It’s packed with excellent instruction that will have you controlling your horse, teaching it tricks and making it a much more valuable animal that will be a joy to ride and be around.
When ready you can go to www.HorseTrainingResources.com
Thanks for looking – and all the best with your horse training. If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact us.
From Prof. Beery:
PERSONAL MESSAGE TO YOU
I PROPOSE to give you, in this Introductory Course, some of the underlying principles, of colt training and horse breaking. Not fine spun theories, but practical, useable knowledge which I grained in a lifetime study of the noblest and most useful animal in all the brute creation—THE HORSE.
The great injunction, “Know thyself,” applies to every man, and it is likewise important, both from a humanitarian standpoint and as a matter of dollars and cents to “Know thy horse.”
Failure to understand the nature, disposition, nervous system and mental limitations of the horse is responsible for the widespread prevalence of bad habits in horses, for countless disastrous accidents, and for an appalling loss in the market value of horses. The pursuit of this fascinating study will repay a hundred fold the small amount of time and effort required to master it thoroughly.
In the course of years, certain fundamental principles were evolved which experience proved were unfailingly true and whose application afforded the key to the entire science of horse training.
The supreme test of these principles came when I began teaching the science of horse training by mail to people throughout the world. The application of these principles, by my pupils, has been attended with success equal to my own.
The lessons are arranged in logical order, taking you, step by step, from the basic principles to the most difficult feats of horsemanship which only a master trainer would dare to undertake.
And, I take this opportunity to express the hope that the Beery System of colt training and horse breaking will be a source of pleasure and profit to you through all the years to come. I take a great personal interest in the progress and success of my students, and the pleasant relations, established through this Course, with thousands of owners and lovers of horses throughout the world, constitute the greatest reward for my efforts in advancing this wonderful science.
WHEN I look back over more than twenty years, when I first began to train horses, I see where I made many mistakes, especially in the early part of my career. I did not have any one experienced to tell me anything about horses, and so the principles, which I have found to be fundamental in horse training, I had to learn by hard knocks, and only after hundreds of dollars of expense.
But now I know my subject. My experience has taught me how to handle every kind of horse, no matter what sort of habit, or habits, he may have, or what his natural inclinations are.
I can look at a horse’s head and tell you what sort of habits he is likely to have; how he will act when you try to break him of any particular habit; how long, and in what manner, he is likely to resist.
I not only know this myself but, in these lessons which you are starting, I am going to make YOU understand it, too. I cannot go into detail in this short Introductory Course, and tell how to handle different kinds of horses, neither would I advise that you try to, until you have read all of my lessons.
In this Introductory Course, I am going to give you some very important facts about horses. I say important facts, because my experience has taught me that they are important, and must be applied in the training of every horse. I have made such a thorough study of bad habits, in horses, that I not only know how to cure them, but I know the causes of all the different habits, and, in many cases, this is just as important as knowing the cure for them, as I will explain later.
First, let me tell you how I have the whole subject of horse training systematized. I have all kinds of horses classified as to the shape of their heads. I tell you, in a later lesson, how to determine the natural disposition of any colt or horse by looking at its head. When I say disposition, I mean its natural inclinations, or, in other words, how it is likely to act under different circumstances.
Certain marks about the head indicate a certain mode of resistance, which is characteristic of all horses having heads with similar marks. For instance, if you have a horse with a head shaped like the one on page 5 (Figure 1) he will resist you in a manner entirely different from the one with a head like that in Figure 2, page 8.
The bulge, just below the line of the eyes and the heavy jowl, or throat latch, in Figure 1, indicate that he is wilful and stubborn. When trying to break him of some habit, he will resist you by lying down or sullenly standing while you try to force him. When once maddened, his mind becomes inactive, his senses blunted and he seems to have no feeling whatever.
NOTICE THE BIG DIFFERENCE
Now, look at the head in Figure 2. The eyes are large and set far out, both to the side of the head and forward, and the furrows, or wrinkles in the forehead between the eyes, indicate that the horse has a nervous disposition and that he is ambitious and determined. If he has not been educated to sights and sounds, any unfamiliar object, or sudden noise, will frighten him and cause him to jump sideways, or, if the object is behind him, he will leap straight ahead. He acts through fear and nervousness and since he is easily frightened, he is likely to develop the habits of shying and running away. If you hold him in, when he attempts to run away, or if anything comes in contact with his body, he will try to kick himself loose. He will resist the harness, or anything that tends to limit- his freedom, and will fight hard from the very beginning. Where the other horse allowed you to do all the work, this one will do the work himself and you need only to control his movements. Although this horse fights harder than the other, he does not resist as long, and, when he does submit, he gives up completely.
THEY MUST BE HANDLED DIFFERENTLY
I just give you this illustration to emphasize the fact that horses have different dispositions, and each of them must be handled differently. You must understand your horse’s disposition, if you want to train him right. If you don’t you are apt to do the wrong thing, or else the right thing at the wrong time, which is just as fatal to success as to do the wrong thing.
Since all horses do not resist in the same way, you cannot think of avoiding the wrong things and always doing the right, if you do not understand the disposition of each particular horse you are to handle. You must know that what causes one colt, or horse, to act a certain way might cause another to act just the opposite.
During all my years on the road, giving public exhibitions, 1 never attempted to handle a single horse without first sizing him up, and looking at his head, from both a side and front view, so that I would know exactly how to handle him. As a result, I never tackled a horse that I did not succeed in training.
ANY HORSE CAN BE CURED
All horses can be subdued. Some are harder than others, owing to their disposition, or the handling they have had; but they all have a degree of practical intelligence and that is all that is necessary for the horse to have in order to train him. I use the term practical intelligence, meaning the power to profit by experience.
A great many people give the horse credit for a great deal more intelligence than he deserves, and some would even give him the power of reason. While I say more on this subject, later in the lessons. I will tell you my view on that right here. The horse does not have the power to reason. To illustrate, take a horse that is bad to shoe. You might make him gentle to have three of his, feet handled, and, if you did not educate the other foot, he would be as hard to manage, while having that foot shod, as if you had not handled the other three. If the horse could reason, he would know that, if you could handle of his feet without hurting him, you could the fourth. I could give one illustration after another, on this point, because I have proven the statement on every horse I have ever trained.
This idea that so many people have, about a horse’s ability to reason, does not benefit the horse, but does him more harm than good, in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred. This harm is generally caused by people punishing the horse for not obeying certain commands, or signals, which he has never been taught and which because of his inability to reason, he cannot understand. There is nothing more harmful to the horse than to punish him when he does not know what it is for.
HORSE’S BRAIN IS DIFFERENT
The horse is larger and stronger than man physically and is often keener in the senses of seeing, hearing and feeling; but he is by no means equal to man mentally. I have examined the brain of different horses and I have found that it is much smaller in proportion to the size of the body, and much simpler, than that of the human being.
So, here is a general point of information in handling horses: Use your brain more than your muscle. If you were to go into a contest with the horse, and use your strength alone, you would lose out, because he is much the stronger; but, having your ability to reason out things from cause to effect, there is no reason why you should ever fail to gain your point with the horse. It is only as you take advantage of the horse’s inability to reason that you are able to accomplish anything with him. It does not require a great deal of muscle, or strength, to train horses; it does take knowledge.
When you begin to train the colt, or horse, remember that, since he cannot reason, you are fixing impressions all the time, and these by constant repetitions, become habits. If the wrong impressions are repeated, he will have, what we call, a bad habit; if the right impressions are repeated, he will have, what we call, a good habit.
HORSE DOESN’T KNOW GOOD HABIT FROM A BAD ONE
Right here, I am going to tell you something the majority of people do not know, and that is that a habit is neither good nor bad to the horse. The worst outlaw it is possible to find may kick, bite, strike, balk and do everything under the sun that we consider bad, but he simply has a misunderstanding. He does not know what we want of him; he does not know that we consider his habits bad. He bites and strikes at us because he is afraid we will hurt him. If we try to subdue him, and he whips us out by striking and we do not punish him for it, at the right time, we have taught him to strike; or, if he did have the habit before we have made the impression just a little deeper.
So, whenever a horse has a bad habit, it means there has been poor management some place along the line, either in colt training, or allowing him to acquire the habit later.
I will give one or two illustrations in order to make this point perfectly clear to you. Take the habit of shying, for instance. This habit is found quite often among horses with heads shaped like that in figure 2. It is generally started, the first time, by the horse getting frightened at some strange sight, or quite often, a moving object such as a newspaper flying across the road. If he has not been educated to all kinds of objects, his instinctive fear will cause him to try to get away from anything that is not familiar to him. Right at this stage is where so many people teach their horses to shy.
A SERIOUS MISTAKE
When the horse shys out to the side of the road, the first time, the driver thinks he will teach the horse a lesson and punish him for shying. So, generally, just after the horse has started to run away from the object, the driver gives him one or two sharp cuts with the whip and then settles him down with the lines.
Now, the horses mind was on the object, and not on the act of shying at all. The pain caused by the whip was associated with the fearful object, and,” therefore, the only lesson the horse received was that the object caused him pain. The next time he sees this object or a similar one, he will crowd the ditch more than he did before.
So far as the habit of this horse is concerned, it would have been better had there been no driver at all, because the oftener the horse would go past the object alone, the more familiar with it he would become. You will find when you come to the lesson on shying, there is no habit more easily overcome.
HORSE IS TAUGHT TO KICK
Kicking is also a habit which is caused by the owners teaching it, by poor
management, in colt training. Many people think horses kick because of a bad disposition; but that is a mistake. In nearly every case, the horse kicks the first time in self-defense. Of course, after the act is repeated several times, it becomes a bad habit.
The more often it is repeated, or the longer the horse has had the habit, the harder it will be to break him of it. For instance, a horse that has had the habit for years will be more difficult to break than the one that has just started the habit, even though the latter does kick harder.
I have given definite instructions later in the lessons, telling you exactly how to proceed in handling all the different habits, and each is covered so thoroughly that I will not take up a great deal of space here; but I did want to tell you enough here, about certain habits, to illustrate the principles which you will apply when carrying out these instructions.
TWO BIG CAUSES
Before I drop my comment on the cause of habits, I might say that in general, there are two causes for most bad habits. The first is improper colt training. Often habits are caused by severe jaw-breaking bits, which deaden the nerves of the mouth, or by hitching the colt in shafts before it is ready for that lesson.
The second cause is accidents. Sometimes even a horse that is broken may be in an accident, in which he was injured and succeeded in getting beyond the control of the driver. He would not have to be out of the driver’s control long before he would learn his power. An accident often makes such an impression on the nerves of a horse, that a similar circumstance would remind him of that sensation of power and he would do everything he could to get loose again. I believe that nine out of every ten accidents, with horses, are the direct result of improper colt training.
HUNDREDS OF ACCIDENTS AVOIDED
I cannot emphasize too much the necessity of proper and thorough colt training. Of the thousands of horses brought to me to be broken of a bad habit, if a few minutes a day had been spent in training them properly, when they were colts, hundreds of accidents would have been prevented.
If you train your colt right, it will stand tests that others would not stand after several years’ driving. It means something to have a colt that is trustworthy, and, in training a colt to drive, remember you are not working for the day only; but the impressions you leave will be remembered by the colt for years. One good impression made, upon the colt’s mind between the ages of eighteen months and three years, will be retained as long as it lives.
Never use harsh words, or any sort of language, which the colt does not understand and which tends to confuse it. Your actions, about the colt, should always1 be such that he understands you and will cause him to consider you his friend and protector.
The whip is an important factor in training the colt or horse, when it is used properly and at the right time, in connection with the lines and voice.
It should never be used on the colt in such a way as to madden it, but in following out my instructions, you will find the whip to be a great help in conveying definite points to the colt’s mind. For instance, the whip is necessary in teaching the command, “Get Up.”
Although you will find in studying the lessons that I tell you just how and when to punish the colt or horse, in every case, I will give you this hint about
the use of the whip right now. You must give punishment in such a way that the colt thinks it has brought on the punishment, by its own disobedience. The more deeply you can impress this idea on the horse’s mind, that disobedience brings its own punishment, the greater will be your control over him.
WHAT IS HORSE TRAINING
My definition for horse training is the art of forming useful habits. You must start the habit yourself by making the horse do just what you want him to do. There is only one method by which you can make him do just what you want him to, and that is to punish him for doing the wrong thing and caress him for doing the right thing.
You can apply this theory to any phase of horse training you care to; you can apply it to colt training or to horse breaking, or even to the training of the most difficult tricks.
Trick training I have defined as the act of forming unusual habits. Most people think that teaching a horse tricks is the most remarkable thing in the world, and, they think you are a wonder if you have a horse that will perform a few tricks. You will find, however, in studying the lessons, on how to teach different tricks, that it is much easier and simpler than most people imagine.
I selected, as my trick horse, a well-bred Hambletonian colt, that was very high-spirited and had a treacherous disposition. Charley, as I called him, was certainly full of life, and, on account of his excellent breeding and treacherous disposition, I bought him thinking that he would make a good subject on which I could try out my first theories in horse training.
DROVE WITHOUT BRIDLE OR LINES
I not only tested my theories of horse training on him, but I taught him something, which very few horses have been taught, and that was to drive without bridle or lines and to control him by signals and action of the whip, alone.
I will say that this was no easy job, because of his fighting disposition but I finally accomplished it and drove him a year and a half before I even taught him to drive with the lines. After teaching him this, I taught him a number of other interesting tricks. Among these was his famous balking act, in which he imitated a balking horse in every particular. When once given the signal for this act, he would not budge an inch for any one, including myself, until I gave him the proper signal to go.
This trick has embarrassed hundreds of men, as I generally worked it while advertising in the street, by having a man get in the buggy to take a ride with me. As soon as he would get seated, Charley would stage his balking act and would not move until some one of the crowd would suggest that the men get out. Just as soon as he stepped to the ground Charley would always move off nicely, leaving the man to be laughed at by the crowd.
Among other tricks, he was especially skilful on the teeter board, on which he performed by whip signals. Telling his age, answering questions, and his imitation of a horse having the colic, were perfect.
CORRECT METHOD WILL ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING
I mention these tricks just to show that even a horse, with a disposition like Charley’s, can be taught and trained almost to perfection. The cut on the next page is not a real photograph, but the shape of Charley’s head was so near like this that you can get an idea about how difficult he was to train.
The position of the eyes and ears, in this picture, indicates that the horse’s attention is drawn to the rear. The expression also shows that his mind is in a state of sullenness, and if you were to handle him, it would be necessary to get his mind out of this condition before you could teach him or make him understand anything. A stroke of the whip, while his ears were stiff in this position, would be very likely to madden him, and, when maddened, he will stand still until you try to force him to go, and then he will probably lie down. Many people consider this kind of a horse the only stumbling block in the way of their success, and it is true that he is the hardest kind to train; but the trouble with most people is, that they do not pay enough attention to the disposition of the horse. In fact, the majority of people do not regard it at all, but try to handle all horses the same way.
I have often heard the expression: “Character is written on every face.”
This is not only true of human beings; but it is equally true of horses. When you have once learned how to tell the disposition of any horse, and can tell by looking at the head what the horse is likely to do, then you will be in shape to handle not only some kinds, but all kinds.