i taught my horse to lie down. First I taught her to bow. Just pick up a leg and every time he bends release and reward him. Once he's got the bowing down just ask him to go a little farther and he should drop right down. I geuss it might not work for every horse but I worked with mine. I could send you a video if you would like :)
I do both, teaching horses to bow to mount as well as lie down. I do not use treats and do not force the horse down. I use a full check snaffle and a soft lay rope (I like to use the leads made for rope halters with no clasps or hardware) to help hold up the leg on the side I am standing. Find a place where the ground is soft.
Please keep in mind it is not something you teach all horses in one day. It takes a lot of trust from your horse and as I learned from my horse, it can also take time for them to understand that you will not get hurt by them. He was afraid he was going to lay on me. And I will not teach a horse to bow before teaching it to lay down. You want separate cues and in fact if you are considering both I would teach one cue on one side of the horse and the other on the other side until the horse is solid.
I will only teach this to a horse that understands how to pick up its feet and that also knows how to release to pressure on the bit. I begin by placing leg protection on the horse and placing the rope on the pastern of the leg next to me. I then hold the rope and ask the horse to lean back. As soon as he leans back I release, praise and let him put his foot down.
You ask the horse to continue rocking back farther and farther until the knee touches the ground always allowing the horse to come right back up. You will want to keep the nose pointed toward the shoulder away from you, not toward you as he will lay down the wrong direction and not between his legs as he will not be able to lay down as easily. When they are comfortable with that I start asking them to keep the knee on the ground a little longer before asking them to get up. It is here you start teaching the cue to get up so the horse will wait for the cue while you mount.
When the horse is leaving the knee on the ground I will change the rope. I will run it under the belly to the opposite side, over the back and back to my hand. This will help keep the foot up if the horse resists the next steps. With the horses knee on the ground you will take his nose to the opposite side that you are standing on and ask the horse to rock back more. He should slowly come down on his shoulder and then lay down. Let him up as soon as he wants. If you have not already, start using your cue to lay down. Lay him down a couple times letting him get up, then you will ask him to stay down by keeping his head bent to his side. Increase the amount of time he stays down and be sure you are giving a cue to get up. When your horse learns the cue to lay down he will do it in a natural way, so start asking with the cue first and if he does not lay down, do it manually. Rub him and get him comfortable with you being around him while he is down. Don't scare him. As soon as he learns he won't get hurt, he will lay down with ease. When he is comfortable with you around him, sit on him sideways and get him use to that. Then add swinging your leg over and back. Always asking him to wait for the get up cue. When he accepts all that, sit on him, swing your leg over, wait a moment, ask him to get up. Be sure you are ready to stay on as the horse lurches forward to get up by grabbing some mane.
I've also used Reintrainer's\mine techniques because I always seem to have UN food motivated horses...Lol! My mare, although she likes treats, doesn't 'work' for them, and I actually tend to prefer it that way, because I know what she does, it is because she truly wants to please. The two almost 2 year olds tend to still get too lippy when they are fed treats from the hand, so for them, it's a huge no to hand feed them; especially given they are being trained with younger kids in mind; I don't want them thinking they can nose at anyone who handles them.
WooHoo, thanks RT. Kelly, I am going to follow this thread as well cause I have a couple that I need to teach to lay-down (or at least bow) and don't really want to use treats to get it done if I can.
Please do, the more of us can learn this stuff, the better. As for surgery, the wrist is good to go now, and the hip well this should finally be the last. Time to finally most riding photos eh, not just pretty pony ones like I have had to do since joined the forum!
Can I ask what cues you guys use? I've seen people squeeze at a certain spot on the wither for bow but I'd like to make sure to keep lie down and bow separate and make them not so noticeable while making them not so easy to accidentally "activate" when I'm not asking for it. :)
I lay a horse down exactly as RT does - couldn't have said it better myself ( and saved me a lot of typing ) , I also use a verbal command of ' lay ' during training.
One thing I do in addition - I niggle the horses girth area with my elbow at I start the process and continue until the end, the horse can eventually take this as a cue to lay down . If the horse is really clever ( and you have long legs ) you can also niggle the area with your toe when mounted and the horse can lay down with you mounted - see pic, this should help you dismount as well.
Stand on the horse's left side with the lead rope draped over it's neck from the right side. Pick the hoof up while facing forward and loop the tail of the lead around the leg and hold it with your left hand. This gives you extra support and makes it so you don't let go of the leg. With your right hand, hold onto the part of the rope that is on the horse's neck. Pull back slightly with both hands.. the right hand should be pulling the horse's head back and away from you while the left hand is pulling the left foreleg down and back. As soon as the horse shifts his weight and gives to your pulling, release and let him stand for a while. Repeat a few times, then quit - you don't want to over do it, especially on your first session.
Soon, you should get your horse to bow, like Harley here:
This is picture is when he first went all the way down to a bow and he put both legs under. I like to have the leg I'm holding be under and the other stretched out.. He eventually got it.
See how the lead rope is over his neck? The horse's head should be turned away from you, so this isn't the best example...
Basically every time the horse gives, you reward by letting releasing. Ask for a little bit more every time and soon the horse will be on the ground. That's how I taught my mare and I can mount her from lying down and she's great at it.
I used essentially the same method that ReiningTrainer did, and actually have a video to show from yesterday. I don't have my cues yet, but Jynx knows how to bow by me lefting one leg and using a treat. I haven't solidified the command yet to bow, but by being comfortable on one knee, laying her down was quite easy. She went down within about ten minutes of me working with her the first time ever trying it. As ReiningTrainer said, all horses are different. Jynx is a very naturally relaxed, loveable and stable minded horse who has zero fear of humans. Once she was on her knees, all I did was bump her softly with my hip and she happily went down and stayed down. However, as ReiningTrainer pointed out to me, you shouldn't be having a horse lay down away from you as it puts you in kick range if they panic. It also traps the foot rope underneath them and can make it dangerous if they try to get up before you unattach it. I'll be working to teach her to lay down towards me.