Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Greenville area / SC
Kitten, the next unpopular thing I'm going to tell you is NEVER get off your horse to lead it past a scary object such as a rock or water or anything.
As you are leading your horse and he spooks forward you run the risk of being trampled; if he pulls back you run the risk of being dragged. Even if neither of these things happen you have taught him (as Brandon mentioned) that "if I act scared, she'll get off me".
Teaching your horse to go forward should never be a battle either because that will only prove that the scary object really is a scary object and he needs to learn that it isn't. What you need to do is take the time to circle him in front of the object and each circle getting smaller and smaller until you are facing it. Let him make the decision to look it over. If he backs up, circle again. Sooner or latter he will stretch his neck to examine it - let him but don't try to move him forward; hold your reins out to each side to keep his head focused on the object. Believe it or not he will eventually move forward.
If you are at water, let him bend down to sniff it or put his foot in it. Just keep your reins out and be ready in case he decides to leap it. After he has gone past or over it, bring him back and do it again until he is totally comfortable. This will establish trust in you as a rider that he is safe with you aboard.
The last mare I had to teach to ride trails was a 6 year old that had never been out of an arena. She spooked at nearly everything and the first hour was a matter of teaching and patience. It took over an hour to cover what should have been 15 min of riding. By the time we got back to the trailer, she was the lead horse and was crossing streams, mud, and bridges like she was doing it her whole life. She trusted me that I was not going to get her into trouble. I never raised my voice or kicked her to go forward, I just made her focus on the trail and let her make the decision.
If you are alone, that's fine. If you are with others, make sure they know that this is a training exercise and some things may take time. Stick to your plan regardless of the "advise" that you may get from your riding partners.
I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.
Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
It's not always what you say but what they hear.