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KatieQ 09-16-2012 09:43 PM

Trotting in hand- advice?
I bought my gelding Banjo at 1&1/2 yrs old. He was barely halter broke, but had been handled since birth and was very easy and polite to work with. I have since taught him to lead, lunge, yield to pressure on both his shoulder and flank, pick up his feet, etc. He is now 3 yrs old. I have even saddled him and ridden him for a short distance in the round pen (with an assistant on the leadline). He is a very good boy and a quick learner but I have never been able to get him to trot in hand. He just gets confused and stops dead. Today I tried lungeing him on a regular leadrope, working him up to a trot and then running alongside him. He does fine as long as I stay right at the end of the rope- as soon as I move in closer he stops and turns in towards me. I am not sure where to go with this as I don't feel confident on his back unless I have COMPLETE control on the ground. Other horses I have started were much younger and already had this mastered before I even got on them, so this is a new problem for me. Maybe I am rushing things a bit, should I start over from step one? Is the lungeing thing a good idea to get him trotting in hand?

PunksTank 09-16-2012 10:05 PM

When you lunge him do you use a verbal command? Can you line-drive him at the trot? I'd work on both of those things. You can then have someone line drive him at the trot with you leading at the same time and work off the driver.

If he's really well halter broke he should give to pressure to move faster. I found one huge gap in my own horse's training was I focused very much on her moving away, but not forward. She followed me when I lead her because, well, she always did, I never had to 'ask' for her to move forward. So I'd train your horse how to move forward with halter pressure. Start by standing in front of him and asking him to back up, then stand, then come back with halter pressure. Always of course maintaining appropriate space. Once he is moving forward off of halter pressure (not just following you) he should trot willingly.

aforred 09-16-2012 11:16 PM

Work with a helper who can encourage him forward. As he gets better, the help can give less encouragement. It shouldn't take long until you don't need the helper.
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KatieQ 09-16-2012 11:49 PM

I haven't done a lot of line-driving before with any horse- I was trained very old-school but am very receptive to new (or any) ideas- in fact I would LOVE to learn to drive, period! I do have a very knowledgeable helper who is much more "current" than me, so I will work on it with her. Thanks so much for the tips- I just don't want to go in the wrong direction totally and screw him up because he really IS a good boy and wants to please...

Copperhead 09-17-2012 12:12 AM

I used a dressage whip and pressures. I make sure the horse knows how to walk, trot and stop next to me without touching them before I release them onto the lungeline. The more distance you have between you and the horse, the more static there is for them to listen through.

I rarely comment on these training threads because I don't believe that training can be learned online...and it takes forever to type something out, just to type it out again on another thread for someone with the same problem. But I'll do it now.

*I use a dressage whip for reinforcement only. It is an extension of my arm for when my arm can't reach the places which need pressure.

Get a dressage whip handy. There is a pressure point where the neck meets the shoulder.

KatieQ 09-17-2012 12:35 AM

Thanks so much- I really appreciate the advice. I am going to start over with him on this- I was feeling really pressured to get on his back (and I did) But I think this boy needs to go back to kindergarten and maybe I do too!

Copperhead 09-17-2012 12:37 AM


I rarely post on training threads, because it takes so long to actually describe what to do in real life. And then you have to say the same thing again in another post for someone who didn't read the first...but I'll do it right now.

I make sure all of my horses know how to stop, walk, trot, and stop again on the lead before I have them do it on the lunge. Doing it from lunge to the lead is going backwards. But anyways, this is how I teach them.

You need a dressage whip, or some sort of extention of your arm. You don't hit with the dressage whip, its just a reinforcement of pressure and reaches places your arm can't.

There is a pressure point right where the neck connects to the shoulder.

Horses will stop or backup if this pressure point is squeezed. This is how I teach my horses how to lead and stop without hauling on the halter. Squeeze this pressure point and once he backs up, release it. Praise him. Do this once or twice. Ask your horse to walk next to you. Lean back just before you stop, and as you stop, say "Whao" and reach over with your left hand and squeeze this pressure point. It might take a moment or two for the horse to understand how to make the pressure go away. After he stops, release the pressure and praise him. If you do it correctly, it should only take about 3 times before he stops at just a touch.

If he doesn't stop the second you touch him, squeeze that pressure point and make him back up a step or two. Release when he backs up.

5 times into your walk/halt transitions and your horse will stop without having to be touched.

Now that you have the stop taken care of, lets focus on the walk. When you ask him to walk, lean forward and step a foot out. You are the leader, and horses will follow the leader. When he sees you wanting to walk forward, he should respond and walk with you.

If you lean forward slightly, raise your foot like you're going to walk and he doesn't follow, reach behind you with your left hand (this is where the whip comes in) and tap him on his hind a little, while you click. The pressure from behind (whip) and the encouragement forward (leaning forward, leg ready to step forward), will cause him to step with you.

Walk around doing these walk/halt transitions. Never go more than a couple steps without halting. This will keep his attention.

Once you have mastered the walk/halt, then you can trot. By now, all you should really need to do is lean back and he will halt (since you leaned back before reaching for his pressure point). Since he is taking your lead at the walk (walking when you start to walk), he will take your lead to trot.

Start walking, and when you have a good working walk, start jogging. The transition to your jog should be slow and smooth. Raise your legs up a little to make your body bounce a little (make it appear like you are jogging) while you're at his walk pace, click to him, and his pace will quicken. If it doesn't, reach behind with your left hand and wiggle the whip a little while you're "trotting". Click to him. If this doesn't work, touch him with it and click. He will see you as the leader (he already follows you when you step forward) and will start to trot.

If he cranes to the side, stay with him. Stay right by his side, even if it means craning to the side with him. Slow him down and try again. Do not let him face you, stay by his side.

Expect him to burst into the trot the first time while he figures it out. This is where your halt comes in. If he bursts into the trot, tag his pressure point slightly and lean back. This will bring him back to the walk. Do a walk/halt transition to regain his ears and try again.

The second time will be smoother, but still choppy. And by the third, if you're doing it right, he should be with you. You can choose your speed as you trot. If you want him to slow down, jog slowly (tap his pressure point slightly if he doesn't get it). If you want him to speed up, jog faster.

This is how I teach all of my horses how to lead. After a day or two, I don't even need to touch the lead rope, or them. They are right with me in every stride. I lean back, they stop. I stretch my foot out, they walk. I pick my knees up, they jog. You can even teach them to back up if you back up, but thats a bit advanced for right now.

Only YOU can decide how much pressure he needs. With some horses, all I have to do is turn in on them and they stop. Some horses, I have to grab that pressure point and really shove before they get it.

Same with the whip. Some horses just need a wiggle, others need a tap. Still, others just need the sight of it. If you have a horse who just needs the sight of it, you shouldn't really need a whip since they are that sensitive, they should pick up on your movements right away.

Once you can control the horse's forward motion without touching them, then you can go onto controlling them on the lungeline.

This can be a bit daunting to just read, remember and then perform without being shown physically. But if you can get the walk/halt down, you can get the trot as well.

Hope this helped.

***ETD: Always stay next to your horse, NEVER infront. If you move infront, you'll end up just dragging the horse. You want to stay with your horse so he can see you and respond to your pressures correctly. You should never jog out infront of him and pull him into the trot. Stay with him and make him trot WITH you, not behind you.

KatieQ 09-17-2012 01:28 AM

Thanks Copperhead- it has helped a lot (in theory- I have yet to put it into practice but I will, tomorrow!) It all makes sense to me and if you were ever to write a "training manual" I would buy it! I will let you know how it goes on the next attempt.

Copperhead 09-17-2012 09:24 AM

No problem. I would take it in steps if I had to. For instance, work on the back-up and walk/halt one day. Next day, do back-up, walk/halt again. Once you've earned his confidence he should walk/halt for you witout any pressure from behind. Thats when you can start trotting.

Keep the transition to trot slow. Like I said, slowly jog at his walk pace and wave the whip behind him while clicking to him. It might take him a few tries to figure out. Again, if he tries to swing in to look at you, swing around to stay by his side. He's not allowed to do that. He is putting YOU where he wants YOU when he does that. If he swings, stay right next to him and make him walk with you.

KatieQ 09-17-2012 09:54 AM

Okay I'll do that. He actually doesn't swing in to look at me, except when I do it on the lunge line and try to move in beside him. When I am leading him and start to jog he just yanks his head way up in the air and stops.

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