Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern California
If you want your horses' attention, you have to give him yours. There are a bunch of exercises you can do to teach your horse to lead and respect better, but if you are as easily distracted as he is you wont get far. You need to ignore all distractions and start asking your horse to do something.
Here is the readers digest version of the exercises I use to make a safer and better leading horse.
You need to teach your horse to release to the rein pressure or soften to the bit/halter, then teach him to 'yield' his hip, then a specific 'go forward' cue and to soften while going forward. You will then stop him with the hip and follow that with teaching him to 'yield' his shoulders away from you.
I use the bridle as it will transfer to your riding work and a horse learns these exercises faster. To teach the horse to soften to the rein you will take the slack out of the rein and wait for the horse to put slack back into it or move his jawbone into the active rein. You will release all pressure as soon as he does this and only this.
When he starts leaving the jawbone about 4" to the side you will take the slack out and look at the hip, point at the hip with your rein hand and wait until the horse at least leans the hip away from you. As soon as the hip leans release all the pressure. From there you will work it until the horse takes two steps with the hip.
Now you teach a go forward cue. I use a stiff whip at the hip bone area. You will tap until the horse steps forward even just one step then stop tapping. You will continue until the horse remains walking with you.
Then you will ask the horse to soften the jaw and walk. Apply the go forward cue anytime he stops.
When he will do this you will stop him with the hip. You will soften him, and as before, look at the hip, point at it with the rein and wait for the hip to step over. If he walks off without being asked, just ask for the hip again, until he stands still. Release the pressure as soon as you see the hip start to take the steps. You will notice with repetition that the shoulder on the active rein side is stopping and the horse is pivoting around that leg. This is the beginning of the stop.
When the horse is light and responsive to these cues, you can add the shoulder. You will ask the horse to go forward, soften, then you will take the slack out, take your hand half way down the neck and lift while walking into the shoulder. Release as soon as you see the horse lean in the correct direction. Change sides frequently as this is a muscle building exercise. You will build on this literally one step at a time until the horse will stay light and yield the shoulders forward and away from you.
Always release to the horse when he softens. When he softens the jaw, but you are waiting for a body part to move give a small release, open your fingers, but then ask again by closing them. Give a complete release when the horse finishes a task. Focus on a soft jawbone before, after and then through reps, during the exercises. Remember you are teaching, there is no jerking or popping the rein in these exercises, just pressure and release. You can put as much pressure as you need but always start with the least and build bit by bit by taking the rein up not jerking or popping.
Hope this helps and have fun with your horse.