Experienced horsemen advise people new to horses to choose a horse suited to their needs when selecting a horse to train, learn about horse behavior, and gain the horse's trust. They also advise new horse trainers to work with experienced trainers and to develop a training plan with specific goals.
Most horses' formal training begins around 2 years of age, but trainers recommend socializing them to humans as early as possible. Hand-feeding them in the presence of new people and when in new locations is helpful in this process.
Trainers suggest starting a horse's formal training with ground work, teaching the horse commands while it is on a long line. Then the trainer should teach the horse to walk beside her on a lead, then get the horse used to carrying a rider. Experienced trainers suggest starting each training session practicing skills the horse already knows and introducing new skills slowly.
Introduce saddles and bits slowly. First show the horse the saddle, then hold it over the animal, and have it carry a saddle without stirrups to get used to it. Similarly, a horse needs to get used to having a bit in its mouth.
Some advocate the use of clicker training to acclimate the horse to new equipment such as saddles and bits, accept grooming, learn new skills, and build trust. These trainers caution against using punishment and equipment that causes pain or fear to the animal.