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Home > Horses > How to Call a Horse: 7 Expert Training Tips & Techniques

How to Call a Horse: 7 Expert Training Tips & Techniques

man hugging a horse

Horses are amazing animals but they can also be exceedingly frustrating. Many horse owners, especially ones who are new to the equestrian world or are dealing with a green horse, have had the experience of calling their horse only to have them turn around and trot away. Horses are good at keeping you at bay if they want to!

Calling a horse is a vital skill, though, and if you can’t get a horse to come over when you need them, it can make doing anything with them incredibly challenging. This guide will help teach you how to call your horse, including techniques, tips, and tricks, to ensure that your horse will come to you when you call them.



In order to train a horse to come when called, you will need a few things on hand to help the process go smoothly. It is a good idea to set aside time during the week to practice and reinforce your training. You will also need some sort of food like grain or treats and a bucket to hold it. If you want to try to practice catching your horse after you call them, you will also need a rope or halter. Here is everything that you will need to consider before attempting to train your horse to come when called.

What You Will Need:
  • Treats
  • Grain
  • A bucket
  • A halter or rope
Time: A few days to a few weeks of practice
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The 7 Tips on How to Call a Horse

1. Make the Horse Feel Safe

When training a horse, one of the most important tips is to make sure you are making your horse feel safe. Horses are heavily driven by fear because they are prey animals. Many horse behaviors are tied to their instinct to flee from danger. Since horses do not have many options for fighting, they usually opt to run away rather than stay and fight. If your horse feels scared, they will automatically revert to a mode of thinking where they are always considering running away. That makes a horse incredibly difficult to train, and it makes it highly unlikely that they will come to you.

To counteract that, you should be trying to make your horse feel safe and comfortable while training them. Do not spook them or get frustrated or angry with them. Don’t wave your arms or use a loud voice. These types of behaviors will put your horse on edge and make it unlikely that they will come to you. Horses will move away from you and keep you at a safe distance if they feel unsafe.

woman taking care of a brown horse inside a stable
Image By: Barbara Olsen, Pexels

2. Be Consistent

It is important to be consistent when training your horse to come to you when called. If you want to use a word, use the same word every time. If you want to use a sound like a tongue click, use the same one. If you have your horse in a pen or pasture, it is a good idea to call them from the same spot every time. This will build a consistent pattern that a horse will learn to recognize. They will learn over time that if you are standing in your calling spot, you want them to come over. That can help eventually train your horse to come when called without having to bribe them with food.

If you use different words and motions or are always standing in a different place, you might simply confuse your horse. Being consistent and building a recognizable pattern will help your horse learn your intentions, which in turn, will help them feel calm and safe over time.

3. Use Treats

Feel free to use treats to help get your horse to do what you want. Calling your horse and then rewarding them with a treat when they come will build a positive connection in their brain. If your horse knows that coming to you will result in a treat, they will be more likely to reproduce the behavior in the future. Over time, if you are consistent, they will come every time, even if there are no treats around.

Horse eating
Image Credit: Rafael Malta, Shutterstock

4. Use Grain to Call a Horse

Sometimes, horses do not respond to treats very well. If they do not work, you can always use grain to call your horse. Put a small amount of grain in a bucket, and then call your horse. Shake the bucket to get your horse’s attention. Then call your horse again. Like the treats, this will build a positive connection in your horse’s brain. Calling them to come over will start to be associated with grain, which is a powerful driver for horses, especially food-motivated ones. Over time, you can eventually use an empty bucket and your chosen word to get your horse to come over to you.

5. Don’t Try to Catch Your Horse Every Time You Call Them

Many people want to train their horses to come when called so they can catch them. The problem is that many horses do not like being caught. If you try to throw a rope around them or put a halter on them every time you call them, you will build a negative connection in their brain about coming when called. That is something that you do not want to do.

Even if you need your horse to come when called in order to be caught, you should not try to catch them every time you call them. You should practice by calling them and rewarding them with treats, grain, or pets, and then simply walk away. Do this between attempts when you want to actually catch your horse to keep the positive connection about being called alive in their mind.

Belgian warmblood purebred horse
Image Credit: Lucia L, Shutterstock

6. Repeat and Practice

Some horses are notoriously difficult to train. Horses can be inconsistent, they can be stubborn, and they can spook easily. Training a horse takes practice, patience, and repetition. Your horse might not start coming when called for a few days or even a few weeks. Practice your training vocabulary, use your treats, stand in the same spot when you call them, and reward them after you call them without catching them. Do these things repeatedly. Over time, you will start to see results. Some horses will train much faster than others. Don’t get frustrated. Keep at it, and eventually, you will see the results that you want.

7. Try Not to Spook Your Horse

Try not to spook your horse while training them. Some horses are more fearful than others. Sometimes it is easy to get frustrated and yell at your horse or lunge to grab them in a moment of exasperation. If you spook your horse when you are trying to get them to come, you can undo a ton of progress in one moment. If a horse starts to feel scared or unsafe when you call them, you might have to start from scratch again. It is important to make your horse feel safe and not to spook them while training them in order to keep the training fresh and effective.

man comforting a horse in stable
Image Credit: michaeljung, Shutterstock

new horse shoe divider


These tips will help you train your horse to come when called. It is a crucial skill to be able to call a horse and have them come over. If you can’t get your horse to respond in this way, it can be almost impossible to do anything with them. With time and patience, though, anyone can train a horse to come when they are called.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: VICUSCHKA, Shutterstock

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