Training Aids: Don’t Spend a Fortune on a Gimmick

As an amateur horseman who can’t spend a fortune on constant training and instruction, I often look towards online videos, articles, and general tidbits I pick up from watching trainers work at horse shows, as well as talking to trainers I know.

One of the biggest things I notice in my quest for knowledge and ideas is the number of clinicians with ‘gimmicks.’ Sure, they can do some pretty great stuff with a horse and usually have a great show record but their methods are often lost while they promote the sale of their ‘special’ stick, lead, head-setter, bit, this, that…whatever. Most of the time, these products are ridiculously over-priced.

You can learn their techniques or like the product they are trying to sell but just because it’s a “big time clinician this or that” doesn’t mean if you don’t but their product, you can’t achieve your goals. Usually, a rope is a rope and a stick is a stick.

I recently stumbled on a video by trainer, Shane Dowdy talking about his “Head-Set Helper“. I have to admit he came up with a pretty great idea. It’s a style of draw reins. I liked them but I don’t use draw reins very often, a few times a year maybe?(if my horse and I have hit a weird sticking point.) I checked his site to see what the cost…On Sale for $99.00!

I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding”. There is now way it could cost that much to make something like that and no way I can justify spending that much on something I use rarely.  And wouldn’t you believe it, after studying the photo and video, I was able to recreate the piece of equipment using parts I had sitting around the barn. (namely breast collar keepers, a set of rings, a set of barrel reins and an old pair of draw reins I made out of twine.) I forgot the picture but I’ll get it up asap.

Maybe it didn’t look perfect compared to Shane’s and by no means do I want to take credit away from what he’s come up with and marketed. I’ve linked the product here so you can see it and even purchase it for yourself. I just want you all to know just because a clinician is selling something doesn’t mean you have to buy it or that, that particular brand is going to ‘fix’ your horse. You can make things or buy things that will do the trick for less. I also advise against getting dependent on training aids as well as using them if you don’t know how (always ask someone experienced to show you how and when to use an aid or you could risk getting yourself or horse injured, or making even more of a mess of your horse). You also don’t have to feel left out, if you can’t afford one of the many products out there.

I would like to stress that I am not trying to criticize the trainer named in this post. He was simply used as an example because I really like his product, I just can’t afford the price 🙂 This post was meant to simply explain that there are alternatives to buying pricey training aids.

I’ll get pics up soon and I hope all of you are still afloat (literally with all this rain!) Until then have fun and let me know of any other training aids  you’ve been able to make on your own!

Shane Dowdy's Head-Set Helper, from


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