Teaching horse to lead properly?

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Teaching horse to lead properly?

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  • Teaching a horse to lead
  • Teaching horses to lead properly

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    03-02-2010, 02:16 AM
Smile Teaching horse to lead properly?

My new horse has some major ground manner issues. I have been working with a trainer two days a week, and the other days I'm on my own.

His biting/rearing/running people over issues are almost completely gone. So we are making progress, slowly. He is a real sweetie, but he was raised as a pet, by some people who didn't enforce boundaries at all.

He still doesn't lead properly though. In his paddock, I can catch him fine. He leads around his paddock fine. He leads out of his gate fine. At the door of the barn, he plants his feet and refuses to move.
It takes ages to get him to go forward once he's decided he wants to stop. You can turn him around, but if he doesn't want to go somewhere, he won't.

It also happens when going back into his paddock; he plants his feet and refuses to move. I think it partially has to do with the mud by the gates, but he doesn't lead that well anywhere.

He'll lead well for my trainer, but even that is a struggle. He doesn't steer very well, and if we pass food he heads towards it. Not full speed or anything, but he does his best to haul his handler over to it.

My trainer says it's something I need to work on by myself, and that I'm not firm enough. Although he sometimes stops with my trainer, he still doesn't do it nearly as often as he does with everyone else. I really do try my best, but when he plants his feet and won't move I just get really frustrated.

What should I do when he does this? Food works, but then I don't feel like he's learning anything. He isn't phased by crops/leadropes; they just seem to annoy him.
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    03-02-2010, 07:16 AM
What you need is a dressage whip, buggy whip or any kind of stiff stick - a dowel the correct length would work in a pinch. The correct length will reach his gaskin with you standing at his shoulder looking ahead.

Away from food, mud and any of his usual distractions, enforce walking forward when you ask. Stay at his shoulder and tap his gaskin with the stick if he lugs. Not beating, not punishment, but an insistent tap, tap, until he comes forward. BE very alert to your body language - look forward and have your shoulders and hips open and facing in the direction you want to go. Don't pull him along with the lead rope, make him walk up beside you on a slack rope. Be especially vigilant about your body language while using the stick - if you turn your body toward him, get out in front of him, or look him in the eye, you're telling him to stop. It takes some practice to do this, control your body lanuguage, and walk a straight line.

Once you've got this down, practice walk/halt/walk, and then walk/trot/walk/halt before attempting gates or mud or his other bugaboos.
    03-02-2010, 09:30 AM
Well, I have some experience with horses that are disrespectful on the ground, and that's what he is doing. He does not respect you as the dominant member of your partnership. What kind of groundwork do you do with him? Lunging? Disengaging? Desensitization?

I cannot say if it will work but personally I would buy a rope halter with knots at the poll and nose. When he plants his feet and won't move forward, BACK HIM UP! Give him a good jerk on the lead if he resists and back him up a good 10ft. Stop, and move forward again. If he plants his feet again, back him up 15-20 ft. DO NOT let him get away with little disrespectful actions, because they will eventually grow into big ones. If backing doesn't work(I don't know the set up of your barn so it might not work) always use a long line with him and when he stops lunge him around you a few times in both directions, whoa him, back him, eventually he will learn that its a lot less work to do as you ask than throw a fit and have to WORK.

With some horses, a whip or a carrot stick like mentioned above works wonders, you don't have to hit them with it, its just a tool. But be careful when trying it out. I have worked with some horses that don't react well to whips especially. With these horses I typically swing the end of a rope to cue them.
    03-03-2010, 11:38 AM
He is planting. There are two different things I do with a horse that does this.

One you pull the horse off balance to one side or the other. Make them take a step. It unlocks them. If he/she plants again, go to the other side. Do it calmly and quietly as many times as necessary and the horse will learn.

The other thing I do is lean on the lead rope (as much weight as possible) and cluck. I want my horse to give to pressure from the front. As soon as he/she takes a step the pressure is released, and I walk on as if nothing happened.

This really helps when a horse is panicing but is contrary to what most people think to do. By having a horse give instantly to pressure in front, it helps calm them down and builds trust.

I freaked out a trainer doing this. My last horse was a paint mare who loved to rear. She spooked one day on the lunge line and I automatically moved to the front and she instantly responded by steping into the pressure. One second she is freaking out the next she is standing calmly. Talk about a shocked trainer - lol!
    03-05-2010, 10:55 PM
Thanks guys, all this information really helped a lot. If I really focus on my body language, then he doesn't act up half as much.
Hopefully we continue to make improvements like this, he can be as stubborn as a mule sometimes.

horse, lead, stop, stubborn, training

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