Teaching a horse to lead properly? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching a horse to lead properly?

Soooo this new foster horse of mine, she knows how to lead in the "you walk somewhere near the person you're attached to and probably follow them when they move" sense but she really doesn't know how to lead properly.

I'm going to get her into a rope halter tomorrow (she had been in a nylon one) and hopefully that'll make a difference, but any tips or tricks would be super helpful.

The last horse I "woke up" to leading, I was instructed to do it in a way that I feel would be detrimental to this mare (relatively unhandled, very sweet, just doesn't know much of anything) - that last time I was supposed to swing the lead rope around in a fast circle next to me so the horse got smacked hard when she charged ahead. Since this mare really doesn't know what the right thing is, I feel like bringing out the "big guns" (aka any sort of smacking/yanking) would be presumptive.

From what I saw today, her main thing seems to be charging ahead and only stopping when there is zero slack in the line (no respect for the halter).

I'll obviously play around tomorrow to see what works best with her, but ideas would be helpful.

She seems to be a very bright, good natured, lil Arab mare so I have no doubt that once she understands the right thing, she'll do the right thing.

Ideas/suggestions/tried and true methods?

Thanks! :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 12:32 AM
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if she charges ahead, just do a rapid about face and continue walking forward (which will be in the opposite direction, now). She will hit the end of the rope and it will be pulling her around forward again. Eventuallly, she should get the idea not to do that.
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 02:27 AM
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I would also suggest about faces....

but other exercises that work really well include:

Do a lot of walk/halt transitions. And when you halt you should be able to be standing a few feet away, not standing right on top of them..and they shouldnt move. If they move so much as one foot after you have asked them to halt back them up. repeat repeat repeat. We use this method at a rescue org where I volunteer with horses with all levels of exposure and handling. When asking for the halt on horses that seem oblivious of their person I find that pivoting in front of them(invading their space), giving the verbal cue and the physical cue all at the same time really make them aware of you and your space....not in a spooky way though. Be sure you step back to the side after the halt/pivot, this also tests how well they really halt as a lot of horses will want to start walking off once you remove the pressure of your presence. This really gets them to FOCUS on your verbal and physical cues and they are tuned in.

Also, try putting out barrels or something you can do a figure 8 around...it teaches them to be aware of your body and theirs

Third, lay some poles on the ground and work on walking thru straight and then backing them thru it STRAIGHT.

Last, get one of those black plastic drainage pipes that are about a 1.5ft. in diameter (the largest you can easily step over) and put some rocks inside so it wont roll and then step over and ask them to come along for the ride. For some reason the horses all seem to hate this big black scary thing but they do it anyways because its where I went with the lead line.

All of these work on leading and general ground manners.

Good luck and have fun!
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 10:54 AM
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I would actually work on her being sent places first, Emily. As in you teach her to yield her hind end to you with the help of a long dressage whip. Once she has that down, you simply get closer to her and direct her to move forward.

If you assign a noise while doing the act of sending, then she'll learn that means "forward" and eventually learn to follow your body wherever it tells her to go.

Just be careful as you don't know her that well yet and need to be on your guard no matter how sweet she appears. Confused horses can get easily frustrated as they try and figure out the answer.

Another way is to put a halter on her, and a halter on Lacey and then lead Lacey and have lady follow. Monkey see, monkey do. She'll understand it much better.

Hope these suggestions help you :)


P.S: If you need me to clarify the sending exercise, lemme know

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 06-26-2012 at 10:59 AM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 11:15 AM
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I like MNL's "Do a lot of walk/halt transitions."

Since barging ahead is an issue do NOT take a LOT of walk steps to begin with. From a halt (where you're standing by her left shoulder) walk forward 3 steps, giving a single cluck when you start to take your first step. When you hiot that 3rd step say WHOA while stopping and giving a tug (followed by a lrealese) on the lead line. If whe takes more than a step forward in front of you, turn and stand in front of her facing her. Ask her to "BACK" a step or 2 (more like 3 steps IF she knows how to back- agains reinforcing with the verbal command "back").

Repeat. Once she's got all that down then start with longer walking lines and more reinbacks as needed. If she "bolts" ahead (pulling lead line out of your hand) make certain you are wearing lether gloves and replace cotton lead with a lead line have a chain on the end. (Warning - NEVER tie a horse when they have a chain over/under/their nose or through their mouth.) Idea is a quite tug then immediate release with chain over the nose IF she doesn't learn from gentler method first.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-26-2012, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the ideas!
I'll put them in my "tool box" to try today! :)

And yeah, Maggie, no worries. I'm basically treating her the way I treat unknown camp horses - with respect and caution, no expectation for good or bad behavior. :)

I'm about to head up there: EXCITED!
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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