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HOW TO LEAD YOUR HORSE

By
John & Linda O'Leary
www.horseproblems.com.au

  2004

 

 

 Go here for the Online Video of Natural Horsemanship on REAL Horses in the REAL World or here for the DVD's

 

Firstly read the other articles on this site. The ones that tell you what causes leg climbing horses.

I have had a request for another article on leading, this time the correct way to lead the horse. I suppose that is fair enough as I am always raving on about ignorant horses that tread all over you. Here goes then:

Horses become brain washed from the style in which individual handlers' lead them or how close they may allow them at halt. It takes me only 10 seconds with any horse and I can tell how the owner operates. I had one here this week. I could tell precisely how the owner led the horse, and how close the horse was allowed to be to that owner, when at halt. Because I have been writing this article for a few days, I can tell you that I went back to visit that horse tonight and I could instantly tell that the owner had allowed the horse to park back close when just standing around. She admitted it as well so I confirmed what the horse told me.

You have a choice, the old system or the Natural Horsemanship way,  I have to recommend that everyone learns this system. I warn you however, horses learn this system far quicker than humans and I guess that this proves that it comes from the way horses interact with other horses and that is exactly what it is.

The majority of horses that I meet have been trained by people who are the product of the old English system of leading while holding the rope about 6 inches from the halter. These are the ignorant horses or is it the owners? 16 years after NH swept the world, the percentages of badly haltered horses versus good ones would be around 85% to 15%, on the wrong side of the ledger.

How close you want a horse to you while leading depends a bit upon what you are going to be doing with it, although not to a huge extent. More so the position you want a horse in relationship to yourself.

Are you training a horse for showing in halter events? If so, you may want the horse to be up along side of you with your shoulder at their head and the horse maybe a little closer to you than I would prefer. If you are not, then it matters not where it is, as long as it is not treading all over you or trying to barge in front.

The two main problems people get with leading ignorant horses is firstly the horse that tries to lead the owner and to barge ahead and inevitably across in front of the handler, causing them to change direction as they fight to restrain the horse. This all becomes a strength issue and we can never win those. The second is with the horse that wants to lead so close alongside or behind you that it is treading all over your legs and makes you continually get out of it's way for self preservation. Again, the horse is herding you in the direction of it's choosing, simply because you are getting out of it's way. The same principle that NH is based upon is being used against you by the horse. Again, a fight and a strength competition and we know who is stronger, don't we? So how do we control these problems? I'll handle them one by one but have to say again, that if you go and become proficient with the Training of Natural Horsemanship, you will never have a problem.

  • I want my horses trailing along behind me, out of my face and on a long loopy rope. I don't care where, as long as I can't feel them. That is the truly light horse but that is another subject.
     

  • You may want your horse along side of you and it may be that it is going to be a halter horse for the show ring. Most judges want them running along side of you.

Even with the show ring horses, the vast majority that I see are held up near the head which amazes me as this is the one thing that restricts the movement of the horse and stops it from tracking straight. Judges want to see the tracking of the legs as they are attempting to judge conformation. If the horse is being trotted along crooked and bent around towards you, doing a shoulder in, how can they? I would not judge you at all. For this reason, even the halter show horse should be on a lead about a metre long and trained to go straight and away from you. You should then train your horse to stay out of your space and to go along on a loopy rope of about three feet long.

Your hand should be over the top of the rope, not beneath it. This is to give you added strength where if you needed to give the horse a jerk back, you will be using the large muscles at the bottom of your hand to take the shock of the rope.

SPECIFIC PROBLEMS

How do you stop the horse that wants to continually walk in front of you, without teaching yourself and it the 7 games?

  • You still must have the horse on a 3 foot rope with your hand over the top. You must not fight with the horse in a strength battle. Allow the loop and then snap your hand backwards repeatedly so that you cause the horsemans halter to bump the horse across the nose. No fight, just loopy rope to snap and back to loopy rope again. The horse must be allowed to make a decision. Repeat if necessary and up the strength of the bum within the zone of zero to ten. Back the horse back, re-enforcing the opposite to what it wants. Here, you are doing exactly what the Western Trainer does with the Western Horse in order to get a stop without pulling on the reins. The key is however, that you must instantly let the rope go to about 3 foot of loop again. Trusting the horse and allowing it to make the same mistake again. You will repeat the message as many times as is necessary and that can be anything between 1 and 4,000.
     

  • You can walk with the horse on a loopy rope and swing the end of it around and around along side of you. If the horse wants to come and poke it's nose towards being in front of you and to receive a flick on the end of the nose with the little leather tassle that the NH ropes have on them, so be it. Because the rope was there first and swinging around and around like the propeller of an airplane, if the horse pokes his nose into it and gets a flick, the horse is going to know that it was it's own fault and it's own decision.  There is a general rule that we must never hit a horse in the head. There are a very few exceptions but in this instance, I consider the tip of the nose to be not the head proper.  If however, you waited to ambush the horse when it pokes it's nose slightly in front of your shoulder and then you  hit it, the horse will no doubt think that you hit it in the head and that is bad. See the difference? To give you an indication of the length of time that this little system takes to make a horse stay back behind, just like a good sheep dog, it is about 30 metres at the walk for me.

The most difficult horses to re-educate to walk on a loose rope are the ex race horses. They are chronic and brain washed  to the max. You may have to spend more time in training these ones.

If you adopt the approach of attempting to restrain the horse with your strength, even though you cannot, you can never have a horse that leads lightly and with respect for your space. If you man handle the horse, push or pull, you will never find the secret or experience the joy of walking along with a horse that you cannot feel on the end of the rope ad that is how it should feel. Always.

In closing however, I have to highly recommend the absolute custom made system that will fix all of your leading problems and your own bad habits as well as your mind.  Then, horses everywhere would be much happier and less in turmoil as they play people games instead of horse games..

 

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