In Hand Handling Question
In the time I've had my horse (7 months) he's only spooked in place. On the rare occasion he will back up to avoid something like me coming with the sunscreen.
If he backs up when haltered/leading I move with him until he stops, keeping contact or tension on the lead, and don't release until he walks forward.
Today we were walking on the road back to the barn when he spooked and ran backward. It happened so fast and I didn't have a tight grip on my 12' lead rope so it played out to about 9 feet. I just looked at him, said, what? and with a little feel he walked forward immediately. Luckily its a quiet country road so nothing to run into. He would have, I think, run into something had something been there. In those scenarios where I see him backing up I can plan to move him around by my own body position. In other words I move off to the side and he veers off in a semi circle.
In today's situation, I may possibly have been jerked off my feet. Would it have been better to hang on? Sorry for the dumb question. I'm here to learn.
You mean, you wonder if it would have been better if none of the lead rope slid through your hand?
I guess, in theory, the sooner you can put some feel on the rope to help him change his mind about backing up, the better. But being yanked off your feet would make things worse. I think you did the right thing.
Not a dumb question at all! It may well be best to 'make the wrong thing difficult' ASAP, but then again, when thinking about reactions from fear, putting more pressure on & trying to restrict them can just make things worse. I think that is a major reason for using a lead that's 12' or so long, so you CAN allow the lead to run, so the horse can move his feet before you ask anything. Other reasons not to hang on tight include the unpleasantness of rope burns & being dragged off your feet!:lol:
Ive always been told when i was a kid if you feel like you need to let go-- just let go! and not to hold on and get myself hurt-- problem was, id drop the rope over the smallest things, and when i did my friend would always yell at me, lol..
Ive now grown accustomed to just letting the rope slide through my hands, untill it gets to the end, then I tighten my grip, and that usually makes the horse stop--if they pull me i just walk with them calmly untill they stop.. if they back into something they'll usually stop themselves-- worst case, they'll rear.
But, i think you did the right thing here. :) id do it, and its worked for me for over 20 years, lol.
I usually let the slack go and then just follow them at the end of my rope. By the time they spook, it's already too late and by holding on you could just make it worse/more pressure. If they spook away from you, I think that's okay. Once they stop I just get them moving forward in casual circles. It's better than having a horse jump in your lap when they spook, that's for sure.
Sounds like you did what you could- I let it slide if I really have to because of a bum shoulder... I also always wear gloves when leading... You can't always predict when they are gonna spook and rope burns sure hurt!
You do what you have to do but when the spook stops, immediately shorten your lead, (allow him an arm's length away from the halter), and continue on as tho nothing happened. If you keep your focus 100' ahead, your body language tells him where you are going. Don't use soothing tones or pet him as that is training him to spook. In the herd if the alpha mare spooks, the others go on high alert. If a lower ranking horse spooks but the alpha doesn't, the others don't pay any attention as they follower her guidance.
He used to stop all the time to look at his surroundings when I led him in hand. That has improved greatly though its taken about 7 months. Still not a fearless trail horse but improvements are steady.
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