teaching a horse to lead without balking - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-11-2009, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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teaching a horse to lead without balking

Ok, I am used to Arab's. I now have my first QH 4 yr old gelding. He is very calm and responsive. The only problem I am having is when leading him especially from his heard in the "back 40" he will walk a few steps and stop. He balks other times too, but it is worse when going into field to get him. Took me 10 minutes to walk back to get him and 20 to get back to barn. I use the lead rope to swat him on the neck and he will move a couple or so steps and stop again. I also pushed him into a very tight circle hoping he would rather go forward but it didn't seem to help. We were both getting frustrated. Once we got a good distance from the herd he moved on pretty well.

What can I do to get him to move???? thanks a bunch..
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-11-2009, 11:15 PM
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First off, I wouldn't swat him on the neck. The neck isn't typically where you ask for forward motion, it's the sides, flanks, and haunches. So rather than swinging the rope at his neck, use your left hand to swing the excess lead rope to swat him on the side.

My filly doesn't always like to leave her herd, but she is still young enough that I'll get her lead rope around her bum and drag her. I found that doing a circle really helps. Not so much a tight one, just a circle, and it usually gets her to take at least ten steps before she realized she is still walking AWAY from her friends. If it takes him ten circles in a row before he walks forward, so be it, he WILL learn if he doesn't walk with you he will get dizzy.

You can also do a lot of leading him around his herd. Walk him around them all, weave in and out. After a few minutes just let him go back with his herd. Eventually, you can start gradually leading him further away from the others, doing like a big spiral around them.

Good luck!

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 12:36 AM
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be sure that when he does take a step forward or even just shifts his weight forward you are relieving all pressure. he will figure out the way to get rid of the pressure is to move forward.

When In Doubt Let Your Horse Do The Thinkin
Originally Posted by spookychick13
What Lone said.
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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balking whle leading

Thank you both for your input. I will try just what both of you suggested. Having Arabs most of my years I am used to a horse that moves out no questions asked. Thanks again..
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 08:28 PM
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I had that problem with my youngest untrained gelding. Now he does lead, still stops a bit but is getting better.

I would use a rope halter versus a nylon. They can't 'lean' on the rope like they can a flat nylon one.

I would start by facing him and moving backwards. Let him stand there with his feet firmly planted, refusing to go. Keep backing up and backing up, until the rope is taunt and there is pressure on the halter. Make kissing and clucking noises to encourage forward movement.

The ABSOLUTE SECOND he takes a step forward. RELEASE. This is VERY important. You are teaching him to yield to pressure, not that pressure is a punishment.

Rinse and repeat. It's also quite important to do this as much as possible. In my experience, it only took a few tries before my three-year was responding to the slightest tug on the lead. To him, pressure ='s forward movement, resulting in no pressure. Don't yank, rip, or tug, just keep a steady, consistent pull on the lead and reward it with no pull.

Once he is moving well, work him to walking beside you. By now he should understand that even a slight tug means that he should start walking. Use the same pressure-and-release method as necessary.

If he starts to act up, throw his head, and in general act like a total arse, turn him in a circle, and try again.

Lots of treats and praise will help things move along smoothly. I always try, with all my horses young and old, to associate human contact with good things. In the case of my youngest and most people shy, a pet on the face or neck means a bite of grass or grain. A halter also means a handful of grass, or grains. He is taught that 'scary' or 'unpleasant' things (OH MY GOD SHE'S TOUCHING ME PANIC!) actually mean GOOD things. Such as a bite of grass for a pat on the neck, or a release of pressure for a single step forward.

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 08:33 PM
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In keeping with the pressure thing, what I find often works with youngsters is sort of "pushing" them to the side. If he doesn't want to take a step forward, use the halter to push his head away from you and take a step to the side and then ask for forward movement again. As everyone else has said, make sure you yield pressure as soon as he moves in ANY direction to reward him. In my experience, they catch on fast.

Also, the flicking the leadrope at the butt has worked well for my 2 year old who learned that if she doesn't want to step in mud or water, or anything she dislikes, she can just plant her feet and be obstinate. If she won't move forward, and won't listen to the flicking, I immediately force her to "lunge" small circles around me, to teach her that she HAS to move forward when I ask. So far, it's worked fantastic, she's balking less and less, and when she does, it just takes one swat for her to realize she's going to be put to work if she doesn't want to listen to me.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #7 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 09:25 PM
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If he stops, definitely don't swat his neck to try to get him to go; you need to engage his hip, and you can't do it from the shoulder!

When he does stop, you can take that time to practice yielding his hindquarters, backing, yielding forequarters, etc. Keeping his feet moving will help him realize that he can't decide when to stop; you are in control of his feet.

Make sure you carry a dressage whip, or handystick, or other tool you can use to tap his hind end and shoulder to get him to yield to you. When ever he gives to the pressure you are putting on, you need to release the pressure, as well. Practice yielding the hind quarters a few times (both directions), and then walk off like you normally would, and if he doesn't move with you, right away ask him to yield some part of his body, whether it's his hind end, front end, or all of it (by backing).

You can also use longing (if he knows how) to get him to unlock his feet; once he stops, immediately start longing him; you'll have to make sure you have a long enough lead, or use a longe line when you walk him, so you don't damage his legs. I always work a horse with leg wraps, especially if it's a young horse, so you might want to consider it atleast, if you don't already.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-12-2009, 11:09 PM
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I agree with flicking the end of the lead on the hindquarters...it has worked for all our young ones...and similarly, make sure you don't wind up tugging/pulling on the lead to try to get the forward motion. All our Paints, even our seasoned go anywhere lead mare, will walk perfectly next to you all day long on a loose lead (even a short one), but they hate to be "pulled" and will dig in their heels and give you the "I'll walk with you, just don't pull on me" look.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-14-2009, 06:13 PM
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Hi Galicbunny,
I agree with what the others have stated. Since my gelding has been out to pasture for a long time he has lost his manors. I alwaus carry a dressage whip in my left hand and or right hand and amke sure to tap at his hid end or feet to get him to move up forward. the same thing when i want him to not walk on top of me and to stay out of my space.
I just mentioned this in another post and someone just made the same point here...once your horse has let up and relaxed or engaged in the action your looking for it is very important to let off with the pressure.
Patience ~ practice and consistency ore going to be your best friends...
Good luck!
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