08-08-2010, 08:00 PM
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For me, I will never allow the horse's nose to move in front of me. If you pay attention to herd dynamics and watch mothers with their foals, you'll notice that mares will not allow their babies to put their noses in front of them when they are moving together. This is an established "rule" of respect and dominance. If we expect to be a horse's leader and expect him to be number 2, then we need to be number 1.
When I lead, I do not stand in really close and I do not hold close under the horse's head. I walk just in front of his left shoulder. If at any time a horse moves his nose out in front of me, I will do one of two things. I will use my body to put pressure on his (horses respect body pressure very much). I typically VERY ABRUPTLY pivot to my left and make a 180 degree change of direction. I don't wait for the horse and I don't urge him along. I move with purpose and expect him to follow. I have also stopped, abruptly moved my left shoulder in towards the horse, and ask him to back up. Bottom line, you should never adjust your rate of speed or direction to the horse. It must always be the other way around. Once this is established, you can typically relax with a horse and will rarely be challenged.
Two common mistakes with leading: allowing the horse small allowances of crowding your space or moving in front and holding tightly right at the top of the leadrope. I usually don't even hold with my right hand...just my left. I like to keep my right hand neutral.
And I'm so glad you're asking all these questions! That is how we all have to learn this stuff...by asking and asking and asking (and watching and practicing)!