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Discussion Starter #1
I've always envied my trainer's ability to have his horse follow him around without a halter or rope. Now, I've tried this with Hoover, but my baby has ADHD....seriously. My trainer said he has the shortest attention span of any horse he has worked with in 40 years. Hoover tries, he really does...but keeping his attention is a battle.

Gunner, on the other hand, is a little easier. He follows me around the round pen on command, and will stay without needing to be held in the yard with me for at least 20 minutes. He wandered away because he thought my instructor was feeding at the barn. :p He also does lead rope very well, and will stop shoulder to shoulder with me after a few small reminders.

So, my question is...how do I further work with Gunner to improve this? Do any of your horses do this?

Oh...I'm not looking to do this anywhere except the ranch, where he knows the ground and at most will run to the barn if he stops listening. I wouldn't put him in danger...we're 100s of acres away from a road.
 

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Notice that most of the trainers are carrying whips?? That is their connection to the horse. A whip trained horse will follow like a dog on your heals because he knows he can not turn and run without paying the price. He can not run past you either so he sticks close, the only safe place to be.
It is easy to teach but most boarding places would frown on it. To get a horse to follow you around the stall take minutes to teach and then you just expand it to outside.
Again I have taught it to a degree far above whip training but would I ever do it again? NO
 

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A lot of these techniques are used in Natural Horsemanship. Like with Pat Parelli and such....It's mostly about teaching your horse that you are its herd leader, and becoming his friend. I'm not entirely sure how to do it from scratch, but my suggestion would be to watch Parelli's "Games of natural horsemanship" then continue on with whatever you have been doing. Eventually the horse will want to be with you.

The only horse I've ever had follow me around without incentive is Jester. But he's very special and sometimes not smart enough to figure out that there is no lead rope on him, ha ha. But I have seen others do it and it is not out of the question. You just have to know body language and such.

You can communicate with your horse on his own terms if you know how. And it doesn't necessarily have to be whip training. My trainer has a little filly she leads around without anything on it and she uses only body language and she spend slots of time with the filly so she knows exactly who is the herd elader and who she wants to be with, not who she has to be with.
 

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Any horse I've ever spent significant time with has more or less picked it up. I do do groundwork, but I never set out specifically to teach the horse to follow without a lead rope. I practice grooming and showmanship, and I make the cues, etc. as light as possible, and I expect the horse to respond to as little as a shift in my weight even on the ground. I look at it much the same as I look at bridleless riding; it's a byproduct of good "regular" training, and most horses with a solid foundation and respect for the handler (as in, the rider/handler is the "herd leader") will follow without a line.
 

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Hehe...you said dodo!!:lol:

I know...seriously! I'm a kid at heart!!!!!:p
 

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Both my mare and my gelding used to do this with me. It was nothing that I taught them, it was based on trust and respect. The only time I ever had a leadline on my gelding was when I was either using him with a student, or at a show (where I pretty much just used it out of respect for the barn owners & other competitors). You can use body language to "invite" your horse to follow you, and likewise to tell him or her that they need to stop, turn, get out of your space, whatever. It's all about body language & the relationship you have with your horse. I'm sure following can be taught as well, it's just never been something I've done. I'd rather my horse walk around with me because he enjoys my company, and not because I'm carrying a whip or something.
 

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I will say, this is a Parelli thing. I did this with my arab mare. It is a trust and respect thing. The reason I started this with my mare is because her fear with being caught and her fear of people. I spent alot of time with her, getting her trust. I started with a lead rope and yes a crop. But my mare was so sensitive that I never really had to use that on her. Sometimes tho I used the end of my lead rope as a popper. If she didnt face me when I would turn toward her butt, she was instantly popped. I also got her to pivot on her front feet both ways away from me without running away. It takes alot of time and patience but now, I can take her out of her paddock without halter, lead and just start walking. She will instantly follow me. Even if she gets fresh or spooks a bit, all I have to do is body language and she calms down and comes to me. I dont carry a halter, lead or whip. She is free to do as she pleases. Even if she does run off, she always heads towards the barn to be with the other horses. But not something she has ever done. If I run she runs, if I stop she stops. I actually think she enjoys doing this with me. I take her out to the pasture where there is tons of grass to get at and I still have that strict connection with her. Mind you, our horses dont get out on pasture very often. I think too, that if your horse sees you as a leader, its so much easier. Just have fun with it.
 

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It's nice to say they do it out of LOVE out of RESPECT but that doesn't make for a reliable horse. Given something better he will just walk off. Try putting on a show in an arena for a crowd and see how far love and repect get you??? Not far.
To be reliable you need that connections and the whip is the connection. Sure it would look nice to drop the whip, makes for a better image but the alternative is not nice either.

Again I have been there, a reliable horse that comes running at the mere whistle from any distance, dances around me but follows on a heal as good as any obedience dog and then stands and stays outside the barn while I go in to get a hoof pick to clean the feet before giving permission to enter the barn.
That is not Love and Respect, that is training.
 

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I suppose if by "training" you mean it's something the horse has learned from repeated behaviour, then sure, call it training. My gelding would follow me until I turned around, looked at him a certain way, & said, "Stay there, Simes". I could then walk into the tackroom or walk away from the cross ties (he was never tied in, he just stood in them) or whatever, & I'd know that I could come back & he'd still be there. If I left him standing in grass, maybe he'd lean down to have a nibble, but he wouldn't wander off. He didn't do it because I'd specifically spent time"training" him to do it, he did it because I was "mom" or "alpha mare" or whatever you want to call it, & he wanted to please me. He wouldn't do this for me until we'd formed a bond, and he'd never do it for other people, because he did not have that level of respect for what they wanted. I never once hit him or threatened him with a whip in the 7 years that I had him. If you think you need a whip or some other "training aid" to get a point across to a horse, then you are very mistaken.

And you asked how far love and respect get you in a show arena - I'll tell you, they get you VERY far. Look at a pair where the horse & rider do not have any sort of connection or respect for one another, & then look at another pair that are obviously a TEAM. There's a difference. I'm not saying respect & love always bring in the ribbons, but I am saying they'll make a world of a difference in the way your horse will act for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
As for the whip question, I never use anything beyond a cotton rope or a hand in training. I usually don't need to use either, just turning on the horse tense and angry, with a sharp voice, then immediately calming down when they understand they did something wrong is usually enough. Heh...I usually threaten to eat part of Hoover as a steak...in front of him...or tan his hide...slap the taste of out his mouth...or something to that effect. Something I can growl and really let him know he's made me mad. The vocal is enough for my boys most of the time.

And my trainer never used whips either...Drift did it because he loved and respected Bill, so to him there -was- nothing better than spending time with him. Bill used to take Drift to perform tricks for schools...and never used any ropes.
 

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I suppose if by "training" you mean it's something the horse has learned from repeated behaviour, then sure, call it training. My gelding would follow me until I turned around, looked at him a certain way, & said, "Stay there, Simes". I could then walk into the tackroom or walk away from the cross ties (he was never tied in, he just stood in them) or whatever, & I'd know that I could come back & he'd still be there. If I left him standing in grass, maybe he'd lean down to have a nibble, but he wouldn't wander off. He didn't do it because I'd specifically spent time"training" him to do it, he did it because I was "mom" or "alpha mare" or whatever you want to call it, & he wanted to please me. He wouldn't do this for me until we'd formed a bond, and he'd never do it for other people, because he did not have that level of respect for what they wanted. I never once hit him or threatened him with a whip in the 7 years that I had him. If you think you need a whip or some other "training aid" to get a point across to a horse, then you are very mistaken.

And you asked how far love and respect get you in a show arena - I'll tell you, they get you VERY far. Look at a pair where the horse & rider do not have any sort of connection or respect for one another, & then look at another pair that are obviously a TEAM. There's a difference. I'm not saying respect & love always bring in the ribbons, but I am saying they'll make a world of a difference in the way your horse will act for you.
Yeah, not sure how much I agree with this statement. There is a lot of romantacism on this forum, I notice. I don't believe horses understand the concept of "love and respect", I think that what they do understand is boundaries and training. Top international equestrian competitors often travel to different countries without their horses. It is not unusual for a rider to meet the horse he/she is competing on one or two days before the comp. These top riders then go out and perform amazing equestrian feats on a horse they barely know. The reason they can do this is because THEY are highly trained and generally so is the horse they ride. It has nothing to do with love and respect and everything to do with training.

My neighbour has a heap of horses. It is not unusual for any one of them to not get ridden more than two or three times a year, basically these horses are on permanent turn out until they are needed. This guy spends NO extra time with his horses, he does all his training and schooling when he is at work on them. He will bring in a horse (with dogs!) catch it, give it a very light lick with a brush, saddle on, and off to work - and boy do these horses have to work. The crazy thing is every one of his horses know to follow him around if he is off their back, unless he has specifically ordered them to stay. Do they follow him because they "love and respect" him. No it's because he trains them to.
 

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kiwigirl - I'm using MY horses as an example. I realise other people people's situations are different. I was in no way implying that you can't have a successful show career without that relationship. I spent my entire riding career under a very prestigious eventer, so I've most definitely seen both sides of the spectrum as far as horse and rider relationships go. I just said it can make a difference. Horses can absolutely love, just like they can feel sad or worried, etc. It's not the same human emotion of love, but it's their own form of it, and it can certainly apply to both humans and animals. Have you ever seen a depressed horse after their best buddy passes away? Don't tell me he didn't care about that other horse. And they most certainly understand the concept of respect. Out in the wild, and even out in the pasture, their herd dynamic is based on different levels of respect. Can you train your horse to follow you around & do whatever? Absolutely. Can you put zero time into "bonding" with them & still get your horse to perform & have fun riding? Of course. But for me, personally, working hard to form a bond with my horse is something that I enjoy, so that's the route I chose to take, and my relationship with my horses has always absolutely been based on respect & "love" (or trust or feeling safe or comfort or whatever you want to call it with horses).
 

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I look at it much the same as I look at bridleless riding; it's a byproduct of good "regular" training, and most horses with a solid foundation and respect for the handler (as in, the rider/handler is the "herd leader") will follow without a line.
^ This.

All our training should be working toward having the lightest possible cues = body language. So when our training has done it's job, then we should be able to take away the equipment and still get the result. Bridleless, halterless, leadless, whatever. They are all results of good training; Not necessarily something you train for.
 

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My arab mare follows me around. I did not train her to do this but it took about a year before I earned the respect or whatever it is to have her do this. I dont need a lead to turn her out usually, and if I let go of her lead while I do something she will usually follow me.
 

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I'm with Quixotic. I enjoy the bond my horse and I have together. I feel that she loves me and trusts me and respects me. I've never given her a reason to not think so. Of course in my mind I know how I feel is way different on how my horse feels. But you just know when you are super close with your horse that you are almost one.
 

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this is my thoroughly ticked off boy. I didn't stop for him when I came into the field. He was at the gate ready for me to take him on a ride and I had the nerve to just walk into the field and bypass him and keep right on going.
He is really ticked with me but he is following without a whip or lead rope.
Not a nice picture I sure received a talking too once he caught me.:lol:
 

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I understand what you all mean about the bond between a horse and rider, I like to think that my horse and I are pretty close and connected (either that or I look like a feed bucket LOL). However I think that I have come by that bond through training and the fact that my horse follows me around in the paddock without a lead is not indicative of said bond. My horse also follows my four year old daughter around when she sneaks off to play in Phoenny's paddock. My horse is insatiably curious so she follows my daughter because it is fun and interesting (and she may smell like cookies!).

I guess I am just trying to point out that a horses natural curiosity, need for companionship, sense of fun etc are more valid reasons for a horse to follow a person around in a paddock than love and respect. Once you have that horse saddled and ready for work, that is when you really find out how much of a connection you have with your horse. When you are out on a ride among other horses does your horse still follow you or stand as you direct. Can you get off your horse to open a gate and stand at the gate while your horse walks through by itself and stops to wait while you latch the gate. My horse does because she has been trained to. I would like to believe though that the training I have done has established a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. My opinion is that you don't know if you have your horses trust and respect until you end up being held accountable as the leader by the horse. If a horse will follow you (with or without a lead) through an obstacle that the horse would naturally go out of its way to avoid, that to me, is a better indication of love and respect.

I would just like to say that a friend of mine has a horse she absolutely adores and my friend thinks it is so wonderful because her horse follows her around the paddock and yard like a puppy dog. That is until she tries to approach it with a halter - and then it won't let her catch it! Funny eh!
 

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oh kiwigirl, I absolutely agree with you, I was just talking about MY 2 individual horses, not everyone's horses! Absolutely training & curiosity can cause them to exhibit those behaviours, I wasn't at all trying to say that they can't. I was just talking specifically about my 2 horses.
My Arab that I used to lease, for example, was TERRIFIED of all new situations. And when I say "new situations", I'm talking about anything that didn't directly relate to her being out in the field with her herd. She was a rescue case, and had a lot of emotional issues. Leading her into the barn would cause her to have an absolute panic attack. The obstacle courses that were periodically set up in the arena for clinics (plastic strips over the entrance, tarps on the ground, etc) would likewise set her off. But by the end of the summer, you bet she'd follow me under those plastic strips and into that "big scary barn", no questions asked. If I left her alone to go into the tack room for a second, she'd get worried & have to come peak her head in, just to make sure I was still there, but as long as I was within sight, she was calm as could be, because she trusted me to keep her safe. Just an example of how I KNOW I was bonded with that horse.

I'm not stupid enough to expect that with every horse I ride, though, my mare & my gelding are the only 2 that I've ever had that with. With every other horse, if they're following me around, I expect it's because they want something from me - more petting, perhaps, or that carrot that's buried in my pocket :p

RiosDad, that picture is pretty funny :p
 
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