Help- horse hates to lead on trail - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-27-2009, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Help- horse hates to lead on trail

Can anyone give me some ideas for how to get past this phase in my horse life? I've owned my Paint gelding for less than 2 years. Prior to this I had owned a QH mare for 15 years. She and I went everywhere together on the trail - just the two of us. Now this young whipper snapper is my horse after my mare passed away. I have very little info about his past but know that he was probably gelded late - around 6 or 7.
He's drop dead gorgeous, super, super smart and is coming around to be a pretty good boy. I've had to let him know his place in a firm but loving way. Here's the issue - he's a perfect trail horse as long as he's not leading. This weekend I had to make him lead as no one else was riding except a friend whose mare just won't take the lead. I made him do it but he looks for excuses to spook and jump sideways, which is not fun for me. I start getting all nervous and wondering what he's going to find to react to. Eventually I'd love to trailride him alone by myself but I'd probably be a nervous wreck. Any suggestions on how to get horses to be more brave and confident. He can be a bully around the barn but is a big whimp when he's off the property and thinks "some monster might jump out of the bushes." I'd appreciate any help as I mostly trailride -it's my passion to be in nature with my horse. I have over 1,000 acres to ride in on Cape cod (MA) I love this guy but need a more confident partner.
Thanks! Em
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-27-2009, 07:50 PM
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My horse used to be like that. She was used to trusting other horses to decide what is a monster and what isn't, so when it was her turn in the front she was super cautious. It took a few times, but eventually she realized nothing out there wants to eat her lol. Good luck!
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-27-2009, 09:30 PM
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The leap frogging that has been suggested to me with my own gelding would probably help your horse build confidence too--when you can, insist that he lead for a few minutes then let him drop back for a little while, then move him ahead again for a little bit etc.
My gelding is much spookier in front when we are with other horses, but interestingly he is a lot better alone, so it might be less of a challenge than you think, dunno.
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-27-2009, 11:09 PM
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My horse is a classic follower unless he's out with a much younger horse, and then I can't get him to not take the lead. I'm not sure how much say we have over who leads on a trail ride. From what I can see, the horses already seem to have the hyerachy worked out before we're done putting the saddles on. I think to make a follower lead and vice versa probably just stresses them out if they know they're not supposed to be there. Is there a younger horse you can go out with? I'd be interested to see if that changes your horse's position too.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-28-2009, 10:27 PM
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Ground drive him in and around the barn, surrounding fields etc. Teaches them how to be a lead.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-29-2009, 12:28 AM
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Take him out by himself for trail rides. If he doesn't have another horses to rely on, he will learn to trust you and gain the confidence he needs.

Take him out on trails that he is familar with. No sense having to reinvent the wheel. If he's already been down the trail a few times with other horses, he will learn to move down the trail alone faster than taking him out on unknown trails. After he gains some confidence on the local trail, make him go on some unknown new trails.

The confidence will come. but he will default to the easy way if you let him follow all the time.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-30-2009, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, thank you for all the suggestions. I love the leap frogging technique and found the previous post about about that. Today I just led him out into the "Crane" where we trailride. We walked together, he grazed and I talked to him and patted him. We walked further and further from the barn and I could see that he was less relaxed the farther away we went. But he stayed calm and listened to me. He was a really good boy. I'll try this again, then I'll put him under saddle and try the same route. I hope that babysteps will get us to where we want to be. Thanks again for the responses! I can relate to the post that said they have their own pecking order and know who will lead and who will follow. We have one mare, owned by a friend that I ride with, who was an endurance horse and will not let any other horse lead. I guess it's a balancing act between letting them be who they are and trying to bend them to our agenda.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-04-2009, 07:05 PM
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I have the same problem with my paint horse. She is 7 and has always been the "baby", and she is not confident with leading on the trail. My problem is that our other horse, the arab, is the leader at home (she's the old one), but she will not lead on the trail, no way! So the paint has to lead, and she's not happy about it. She will start turning around, backing and refuse to go. Then once we are away from home and on the trail, she's fine.

I think that the packing order has a lot to say, there are followers and leaders. My paint didn't have any problem going out when we had the other arab, she was the leader at home too but was fine being the leader on the trail as well.
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