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inaclick 06-28-2010 08:35 AM

Absolute beginner seeking some tips
Hello :) Me again.

I'm planning on walking some horses from the shelter next time I go there.
the walks are done with the volonteer leading the horse with a rope + a halter.

To be honest I'm quite good at leading and walking dogs however I rarely had the occasion of leading horses. Except the bombproof riding school ones who don't really count :)
So just to recap what I know:

1. Do not tangle or wrap the rope around my hands
2. Keep rope with both hands
3. Horse should walk along me, not in front, not behind, head should be near my shoulder
4. Rope should be long enough to allow the horse to graze or turn head to scratch etc
5. In case of spook....what?
I let go?
I grab the halter?
I hold onto the rope?

I was thinking holding onto the halter while trying to calm them down.
And that's all I know.
Am I missing anything?

SilverStallion 06-28-2010 08:41 AM

Begin with your horse haltered with a sturdy lead rope snapped to the ring on the underside of the halter

Standing on the left hand side (near side) of the horse hold the lead rope about 8 inches from the snap with your right hand.

Hold the end of the lead rope folded to fit comfortably in your left hand. Hold around the middle of the folds so that there are no loops around your hand.

Stand at the horse's shoulder.

Cue your horse to walk with a slight forward motion of your right hand (not a tug or pull) on the lead rope. Say 'walk' or 'come' or whatever word you choose to use consistently. Walk forward yourself.

If your horse doesn't understand how to walk forward at your cue, you can try carrying a long whip that is between 36 to 40 inches long , such as a dressage whip. Hold the whip in your left hand with the folded rope. Tap the horse gently on the top of his croup and ask him to 'walk'.

Stop by asking him to 'whoa' (or stop-whatever word you choose), stopping yourself and pulling lightly on the lead rope. He should stop and stand beside you, and not swing out, or try to face you.

To ask your horse to trot increase the distance between your hand and the halter to at least a foot so that you don't restrict his head (which can affect his gaits-especially important if your vet is trying to see lameness or you are in the show ring).

Cue with the forward motion of the lead rope as you did when walking, tapping his croup with the whip and asking him to 'trot' while jogging forward yourself.

Ask your horse to back up by turning around to face him. Take the lead rope in your left hand, and with your right hand point at or press on the horse's left shoulder. Ask him to 'back' and pull down and back slightly with the lead rope.
Step forward yourself to stay with your horse as he steps back.


Don't try to haul your horse along. The harder you pull, the more resistant he may become. He should be taught to walk and trot with you on cue without any pulling.

Don't get left behind, but stay at your horse's shoulder.

To get your horse to move forward if you don't have a whip, try pulling him slightly to the right so that he has to take a step with his left fore foot to re-balance. Pull him gently back towards you so he then has to move his right foot forward to again re-balance. Sometimes this is enough to 'unstick' a reluctant horse.

Choose lead ropes of a thickness comfortable for your hands. Shanks of flat leather or webbing can be more difficult to handle although some people may prefer them.

Although it is traditional to lead on the left side, you should be able to lead from the right (off side) as well.

Hope this helps,

Broski1984 06-29-2010 02:17 PM

I have nothing much to add to Silver's post, aside from don't let a "new" horse graze on the lead.

Hell, I wouldn't do it with any horse. My mother lets her horse graze while she's leading him, and it's made him a nightmare to lead, if you give him any slack at all.

SilverStallion 06-29-2010 02:30 PM

Ooops didn't think about that, thanks Broski1984.

Broski1984 06-29-2010 02:38 PM

No problemo.

Also, to OP:
Don't even TIE a horse loose enough for it to graze; they can get tangled in the rope and injure themselves.

Alwaysbehind 06-29-2010 02:43 PM

Grabbing the halter of a spooking horses is a quick way to break some fingers as they get wedged between a halter and the head of the horse.

Humans safe first - if the horse is totally freaking out then yes, let go. Not worth you getting dragged or injured over.
Note, totally freaking out. Not just letting go when the horse is being a little silly.

Please tell me there will be an experienced volunteer helping you so you learn their system, etc.

SilverStallion 06-29-2010 03:04 PM


Agreed, and will there be an experienced volunteer?

inaclick 06-29-2010 03:52 PM


yes, there was an experienced volunteer with me :)
As well the horse was the safest quietest horse of the bunch.

It was very nice :)

Alwaysbehind 06-29-2010 03:55 PM

Glad you had fun.

Broski1984 06-29-2010 03:56 PM

That's good! I'm glad you had fun!

Are you thinking about getting one of them, or are you just volunteering?

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