I think one problem for someone starting out is that almost all of the pruning instructions out there assume you're starting out with a one-year-old whip. However, what most of us buy in the nursery or fruit tree sales is a two-year-old tree that has already branched, and may or may not have good scaffold development. More likely than not, these trees spent the last year growing shoulder to shoulder in pots, and the branches have had to grow almost straight up to capture the available light, and have bad crotch angles as a result. Fixing this is a daunting task for the new orchardist.
When I first started, I was afraid to cut off too much wood, and wound up leaving crossing and upright branches, scaffold branches right above each other, competing central leaders, and not training young branches to good crotch angles. Last year I just made limb spreaders with sticks, but they fell out of place within a month or two. This year I got some real ones made of stiff plastic, and they work much better. Fortunately, a bad pruning/training job is like a bad haircut. It might look bad for a while, but it will grow back. After a few years of corrective pruning, my trees are starting to look much better.
I also recently found out that we might be able to grow Honeycrisp apples in Houston. The Honeycrisp is perhaps the best apple I've ever had, and I still remember the first one I ever ate. You can imagine my disappointment when I read that it required 800-1,000 chill hours. However, according to Kuffel Creek the Honeycrisp apple has been productive in southern California, and may also produce here. Given this new information, I decided to give it a shot and try to grow some myself.
A couple years ago I planted two Honeycrisp and two Anna trees in my grandmother's backyard in Waco, Texas. I pruned the trees for her in early January this year, and brought home a couple of scions just for the heck of it. I figured I would graft one onto a little branch, and maybe get an apple every odd year when we got enough chill. Since reading about Kuffel Creek's results, I decided to graft on four scions to my Anna apple tree, and in a couple years I should know if they really will produce well in Houston. If anyone else is growing Honeycrisps apples in Houston, I'd love to hear about it.