Training a horse to pull - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-07-2013, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
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Training a horse to pull

I would like to train my boy to pull/drag small things behind him- branches, cinder blocks, the like, maybe a chunk of plywood with hay on it. Nothing serious, more as an exercise and desensitization, but perhaps occasionally when I don't feel like moving X, Y or Z myself. I was thinking he'd pull and I'd lead him.

What are some good references on getting started and required equipment? I have never even seen a horse long-lined, so that is out for now, though I suppose we could learn if need be.

I am not sure if it is at all the same, but he is apparently willing to pony other horses, even when they're being obstinate and we're having to practically drag him along, as I discovered when the situation arose unexpectedly. He was unsure at first, but he dug in with his rear, started pulling and as soon as I assured him that he was right, started motoring along despite Mr. UnwillingtobePonied doing his best to object, digging his feet in and swinging from side to side.
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-07-2013, 02:14 PM
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I don't see why you can't just go ahead and drag stuff from the horn right now. What I would do is just to lightly wrap the rope (I'd go with a relatively stiff lariat so that if you need to release in an emergency, it will spring loose from around the horn) around the horn and hold the slack in your off hand while you lead him.

I have done that a couple of times, but I would never do it on a horse that hadn't been roped off of and drug stuff with a rider first (which your guy has).

My only real suggestion on safety is make sure you dally up toward the tail of the rope so that there isn't any coils in your hand to get hung on the horn or anything else if you have to drop everything quickly.
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-07-2013, 04:26 PM
Join Date: May 2012
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Harness, single tree, chains, grabs and gloves. You really should consider teaching him to drive first as the safest course. If you are just talking about dragging light objects then what was suggested would work if it can be quickly dropped. Pulling from a saddle you run the risk of the horse stepping over and getting tangled in the rope you are dragging with.
Starting to pull you have to start with the basics and long lining is part of the package. First is to get him used to the equipment. Start with lunging lightly so he can get used to the feel of what is one him, Attach your lines and begin to drive him. There are some excellent books that can get you started. Once you are comfortable and he knows the basic commands you can start attaching the single tree and small loads. Expect some hesitation the first time he walks off with something following him. It helps to have a friend or two on hand the first few times.

Last edited by QtrBel; 07-07-2013 at 04:32 PM.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-09-2013, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Moxee, WA
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I did a competitive trail clinic a few months ago with my cutting horse who is pretty spooky with ropes, flags, etc...Our end goal was to be able to drag a tire by the end of the clinic. The clinician had me start with flag work. First, getting to where I could comfortably rub a flag all over him from the ground. Then, being able to carry a flag while riding and rub one all over him. Then he had me grab a rope and just keep it coiled up, and rub it all over him while riding. Then when that was comfortable, try dragging just the rope on the ground behind you while you ride. Then when that is going good, try dragging a smaller objects, and work your way up to bigger objects! (He also had me practice dragging tarps as well - just because my horse was deathly afraid of them when we started!)
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-09-2013, 01:44 PM
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If your horse is not trained to harness and you want to do real harness work (pulling the plywood with hay on it) then you need to train that. It takes quite a lot really... and if your horse is not rope savvy you sure do not want to drag stuff front the saddle. If your horse is not harness savvy training to harness, just like training to saddle takes time and effort and knowledge. Training a horse do draft work (like hauling weights that drag) is another area of expertise and very different from training a horse to pull a two wheeled cart.. and that is quite different from pulling a 4 wheel cart.

Here we go with a story.

Years ago my Dad lost his job. I was a kid and I had this horse (the first horse.. the one I trained to do dressage). Well, Dad decided to save money we needed to heat the house with wood. We would all bring wood in from the adjacent wood lot (owned by a family member).

At first we dragged the wood ourselves. It was close by. As we burned more wood, and the weather got colder, the wood got further away (imagine that.. LOL). It takes a LOT of wood to heat a house with a fire place and a non air tight stove!

Finally my Dad said, "That d**ned horse should be pulling logs out!" We cut the logs up with a two man cross cut saw and split everything with an Ax.

So.. my Brother and I found an old horse collar and some traces.. back saddle and britching.. and put it on my horse. We decided we were going to lead him at first. I was a teenager (so you have an idea of the context).

Now this horse was pretty amendable to a lot of things.. but this was entirely different. I give this horse HUGE credit.

We started out with small stuff... and dragged that. Well, he spooked and snorted but the stuff pulled easy. When we got that going relatively well (relative being the operative word) we took him out to the woods and started pulling logs out. There was snow on the ground so the footing (for people) was not good.. but the logs slid easy. WE had it all figured out....

The first few logs went ok. We thought we really knew what we were doing. Horse seemed to "get it." Then we hooked to a bigger log. We thought even if he ran it would slow him down. We had NO IDEA..

So we are dragging this log back through the woods and the horse finally had enough.. and he spooked. He turned.. I am leading him.. he turned fast.. and a log we all could barely move was airborn and swinging around behind that horse like a kid on the end of a game of crack the whip! That log cleared a swath in the brush and a swath in the people with that swing. Of course the brush popped and cracked and he spooked some more.. then started to take off. I am still at his head and I am not letting go! Dad and Brother were coming up out of the snow after being cleared out by the log and yelling "WHOA WHOA!!!" This was loud and largely ineffective.

Fortunately (and maybe this is when I found a real connection with a deity) he was well broke to halter and did not just run at a gallop.. with me bouncing along at the end of the lead rope.

Fortunately I did not fall down (and get churned under in the snow either by his feet or the log).

Fortunately that log came back to earth with a crash and he trotted with me at his head taking giant steps to keep up and he did not do any more sharp turns.

Fortunately we only had a little ways to go in the woods (maybe a quarter mile) to open land and the wood pile.

Fortunately he did stop...... and then stood still while we unhooked him.

Fortunately no one died and no one was injured (including the horse).

Believe me.. all three could have happened. And believe me.. no matter how "bonded" I was with this horse (and I spent every hour I could with him) he would have killed me as quick as that.

Most fortunate of all I learned that training a horse to pull stuff wasn't something you could just do on a Saturday afternoon.

If you are going to do this get professional help (either for you or for the horse). In my case way back then.. (over 40 years past).. I should have gotten both...

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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