In the third part of the series on ‘Ground Training’, Fred and Rowena Cook (of Equine Management and Training) discuss the issues that crop up regularly regarding the topic of leading.
Racehorses lead – full stop. But your ex-racehorse may not do so quite in the manner in which you would like; typically many jig-jog and whilst there is nothing theoretically wrong with this, a jogging horse tends to be a horse that is on his toes, which does alarm some people. And of course, jogging is a no-no when showing in hand. Remember that whilst in training, in many situations these horses must be led with a chifney so when you come to lead with just a headcollar, you may set off at a pace a bit quicker than you would like! With a large proportion of horses being kept at livery where there are other people and most likely children, it is your responsibility to make sure you have control over your horse.
My horse barges or drags me when being led
It is taught by some that when being led, the horse should remain behind person leading; the problem with this is that if the horse should horse stop and run backwards, or try and turn tail, he is not in a position whereby he can be controlled properly. Some say you should be positioned level with the shoulder, but if a horse is a bit onward or gets spooked he can too easily get away. Others place themselves right by the head, often having a firm grip of the rope under the horse’s jaw; in this position, more often than not, you end up with a horse you virtually have to pull along as such position crowds him and blocks his forward movement.
We believe the best position is for the person to be positioned just in front of the horse’s shoulder (where the neck stops). This gives you the greatest control as if the horse tries to run past you or drop back, you can more readily prevent either. It is a stance we automatically adopt and so far, without tears.
So if you find yourself being dragged along by your horse:
My horse drops back when being led
Never turn and look at a reluctant leader. Although an extremely popular method, we do not advocate flicking with the end of the rope, as this may result in him jumping sideways and pulling away from you – especially with a sensitive horse
My horse walks into me
This usually happens when a horse is busy looking elsewhere! Do one of the following to get his attention back on you:
Rearing when led
If your horse is prone to going up, use a training halter when leading – but remember to have introduced the horse to the concept of such halter first.
At any time when your horse rears up:
Fred and Rowena Cook
In the next part of this in-depth series, Fred and Rowena look at the essentials of lunging.
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