Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Keep the sessions short, too long of a session will lead to stress, anxiety, and/or boredom. Get to know the difference in your horses communication with you (is he relaxed and accepting or is he anxious). I use a rope halter and at least a 10' lead or longer or lunge line. Your body movement and positions will tell your horse a lot to how you're feeling and what you're expecting. Talk to your horse while lunging or leading and any bad behavior correct immediately. Don't let him get away with it. You may be scared inside, but don't let him know it. My horse use to try to rear and run off when I would catch her in the pasture. I immediately made her move her feet and trot small circles around me. A really good book that I like that helped me is "101 Ground Training Exercises." You don't necessarily need a round pen to work in either. I've done groundwork in the field and in the arena.
If you're having problems even catching your horse or approaching, remember to watch your body language. If you walk up to him and you're standing very upright and tall, walking fast, he's going to walk away. I always approach slightly hunched over and allow my horse to come to me. Once caught, touch your horse all over letting him get used to you touching him.
To lead, stand at the horse's left shoulder. As you step off, give slight forward pressure on the lead rope. If he doesn't move, tug a little harder or tap him on the hindquarters and say "walk on!" Once he moves, release the pressure to reward him. If rushes ahead, pull back on the halter to apply presure on his nose, turn him towards the fence (if possible), or if he doesn't have rearing issues, place a whip in front of his face as a visual barrier.
Practice leading a few steps and if he doesn't fight you, praise him verbally or with a pat on the neck (don't treat or he'll get mouthy). If he stops, don't turn and look at him or he's going to stand there or back up. If you tell him to stop/whoa and he continues trying to walk on, step in front of his shoulder and face him and say whoa! And then back him up a few steps to reinforce the whoa.
If you're applying pressure during any groundwork, as soon as your horse responds the way you want, reward him by releasing the pressure and telling him "good boy."
If you're lunging him in circles (both directions), pay attention to where your body is in comparison to your horse. If you step in front of his shoulder he should slow down or stop. If you stay behind his shoulder and wave your opposite arm or lunge whip that will drive him forward. Don't let him "fall in" on you. You can send a wave through the lunge line to yield him away from you. To stop him, step in front of his shoulder or face and say "whoa."
~ Whoever said diamonds were a girl's best friend, never owned a horse. ~
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