How do you train a horse to pull something?
Not going to attempt this for a while with my horse, but I was thinking it over. For competitive trail, I saw one of the obstacles listed involved being able to pull a log or something else while mounted.
How on earth do you teach this?
Also, I will be riding in a saddle without a horn, so tips for that would be awesome too.
I just can't see being able to do any pulling without a horn of some type to dally around. Otherwise you will be doing the pulling.
Have you seen anyone riding with a saddle without a horn that is doing it?
Make sure the horse isn't scared of it on the ground. Then hand walk the horse with the object trailing. Then get on and try it. Though unless you had a horn, you will be pulling and the horse will be walking.
The most common practice in training a horse to accept pulling something is to have another person on a calm, experienced horse help you.
First, you need to make sure that your horse is completely comfortable with having their butt touched and bumped while you are riding them. If they spook when you pat them on the butt, then you'll end up in a wreck.
What you would do is have the other person drag the log while you had your horse walk behind it until they were comfortable, then beside it until they were comfortable, then have them walk up beside the horse that is pulling so that the log is being pulled behind them. Once they are great with all of that, then you can start working on dragging off them yourself.
Then, you'll want to have a fairly lightweight branch on the end of the rope (light enough so that you can pull it by hand without having to dally). Drag that around for a while, working up to the point where the rope is staying down the top of their butt.
If you don't have a horn, that's likely as far as you'll be able to go. For anything heavier, you have to have a horn because you cannot wrap the rope around any part of yourself, that would be too dangerous. I will tell you though, make sure you get the horse comfortable seeing the dragging log behind from both sides, right and left. So many people just practice with it on the right and when they take a left turn and suddenly the log is behind the horse on the left, the horse boogers and it turns very bad for everyone involved LOL.
Aaron Ralston did a great show about this exact thing on RFD-TV a while back. I don't know if you could find the video of that somewhere or not. It's not on youtube.
Start by purchasing the correct equipment. A driving horse has a piece of equipment that goes where the saddle would go - it is also called a saddle (I believe) but is MUCH thinner (more like 4 inches versus 16 inches) with a girth. On the top of this "saddle" are 2 small circles - the reins go thru that. So you would need this driving "saddle" and 2 long (driving) reins. Also a longer whip (driving whip) - should be about 5 feet long.
Put a bridle on the horses head and attach the driving reins (removing the riding reins). Run the reins thru the saddle loops so that when you stand behind the horse holding the 2 reins they connect from the horses mouth to your arms through the loops.
Now you should use this to teach your horse to ground drive. Assuming the horse doesn't kick, and knows basic voice commends - walk, trot, whoa, walk the horse in a straight line while standing behind him. Be careful since he may spook when he sees you directly behind him - use your voice so he knows it's you and to keep him calm. The whip is tapped lightly on his butt for forward (use voice also) and for turning. Turning left you would pull l;eft rein and lay whip (no tap unless he ignores it) on RIGHT side - so horse naturally moves away from whip. Whip helps prevent horse from just bending it's head/neck when you use left rein since whip encourages horse to move body to follow head/neck.
Make certain you educate horse in BOTH directions. Do not trot until horse easily walks, halts and turns. When that is perfect add trot in small increments - about 4-5 steps in trot (think jog or you will be running hard to keep up) then walk or halt.
After horse knows ground driving you'll need to purchase the rest of the harness (headstall and leather than goes across the chest which is what attaches to what you want to pull). Be prepared if horse bolts forward OR stops dea when he first experiences weight against his chest. Best to start with enough weight to feel it but not too heavy. Also pull something you don't mind it it gets destroyed. I've seen horses panic and kick the crap out of the bogey man thing following them. :shock:
I teach mine as smrobs suggested. I do a few foundation & ranch horse shows with all of my youngsters and dragging a log is a required obstacle in their trail classes so it's something I do with all of mine. My hubby likes it too, when he cuts trees down in our woods, I will drag them up to the house and he can cut & stack right by the fire pit instead of having to load & unload the truck lol!
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