Friday, March 5, 2010

Horse Training – Horse that won’t Lead Up

Joyce from Alberta, Canada has a horse named Chief, that won’t lead up properly. She says he walks past her when she stops, and, when she is leading Chief and stops to chat with someone, Chief is fidgety.

First of Joyce, the fact that you are in Alberta caught my eye so I decided to respond to you right off because my Grandfather and Father left Montana to build a ranch north of Edmonton, circa 1910 – 1915, until they lost out and came back to the States. People and Horses in your part of the country are tough and hardy.

Anyway, you did not say how old you horse is, his breed or if he is a stud horse or a gelding. Shouldn’t matter too much. A young horse needs to lead up properly and stand still when you want him to. A stud horse can be a problem if he’s around mares in season. Some horses get lazy in ground manners, mainly because we as horse owners aren't communicating to them effectively or often enough.

If I’m leading a horse who walks past me when I stop, I bump the lead line to make him stop, then back him up to the position I want him to stop at, which is a few feet behind me to my Right. In fact, every time you stop, whether it’s leading on the ground or in the saddle, it’s a good idea to get him to back a few steps immediately. This will translate to better stops at speed. Once he does this at your normal walking speed, then start stopping real sudden like, then progress to stopping at a jog (Trot) then at a lope (Canter). Chief will be a much better horse for it.

If Chief can stand still then you need to teach him that standing still is good. That it’s the easy thing to do. If I have a horse that won’t stand still I move him around on a horse bit on the lead line, one or two circles then give him a chance to stand still again. At first, he probably stand still for 30 seconds or so then get fidgety again. Move him around some more, then give him another chance. They’ll learn soon enough that stand still is easier than getting moved around.

I shot a short video for you, see below. I picked an old horse (Roy) and shot this video right when they were expecting to get fed hoping for him to be more concerned with feed than ground manners. I actually shot this video several times as I hoping Roy would act up enough so it would more evident to you, and Roy just wasn't that cooperative in walking past me or moving around when I wanted him to stand still. I guess I've gotten most of that behavior out of him, none-the-less the techniques I'm telling you and showing you about are still valid.

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