While training any horse takes time, knowledge, and patience, training the logging horse takes a special kind of talent.
Anyone who rides or works around horses knows a bit about training. After all, every time that you handle a horse, you are training him, whether you realize it or not. But when you're training a draft horse who weighs more than 2,000 pounds, and you're teaching that horse how to become a logging horse, there's a bit more psychology involved than you might realize.
A good logging horse needs to have the utmost trust in his owner. Logging horses learn that their owners give them loads that they can handle, and that they will never ask too much of them. This is particularly important because horses are prey animals, and pulling an object behind them mimics their being chased by predators. Horses are naturally reactive and fearful, and in order for horse and owner to stay safe, the horse needs to trust the owner completely.
This video provides an insightful look at what goes into training.
The logging horse's world starts with a tire - a small, fairly lightweight object that only weighs a fraction of what the horse weighs. But that tire can frighten horses. They're afraid to pull it, afraid of when it moves, and worried that they can't move it.
With patience and time, the horses learn that they can easily pull the tire, and then they gradually learn to pull larger, heavier loads. Fully trained horses are capable of pulling incredibly heavy objects, including dragging an entire tree uphill through the woods. They're powerful and confident, and are willing to do whatever their owner asks of them.
From a tire to a tree, the horse's mindset and confidence makes a tremendous difference in what he can accomplish. Whether you ride sport horses or work with logging horses, remember the power of good, positive training and trust. It can truly change a horse's world.