How to Teach Your Horse to Lead Well
If your horse is ill-mannered it can make leading him a complete nightmare. But leading is a necessity and something you will have to do daily. When your horse is pulling you off your feet or dragging along behind you, life can be really awkward and it can be dangerous if he is crowding your space.
If your horse is the one that everybody at the yard dreads having to catch and lead, then it’s time to address the problem. You might feel that you can put up with the behaviour but what if a beginner or someone elderly find themselves having to lead you horse? That situation could end in disaster.
Training Your Horse
With a little time and patience, you can teach your horse to walk in an orderly manner by your side. Straightforward exercises will eventually result in a horse that is safer and more pleasant to lead and that will help everyone who might have to deal with him.
Yielding to Pressure
The first thing your horse needs to learn is how to yield to pressure. This is a basic skill that should have been instilled in him when he was halter-broken. But it is a skill that can be overlooked. You can teach him to yield by pushing on his body. When he yields, stop pushing. A few rewards will help! Then with your hand, put some pressure on his nose or poll and as soon as his head drops, release him. Repeat these exercises until your horse always responds and responds immediately.
When you have trained your horse to offer his head, apply more pressure until he backs up then release. Repeat this exercise until he readily backs up. Once your horse has learnt to yield to pressure you can start teaching him to walk politely.
Keeping Your Distance
First decide how far behind you would like your horse to be and walk that distance ahead of him whilst he stands still. Take a few steps leading your horse then stop. If he doesn’t maintain the right distance between you, stop and then reverse him a few steps and ask him to remain still for a minute. Spend a few weeks walking like this and correcting him by making him back up. Practice walking at different speeds as you need to reinforce the idea that he should match your pace.
It is important to be firm and consistent. Always release the pressure the second your horse responds otherwise he will be confused about exactly what you are asking him to do. Always insist on the same distance between you when walking and don’t ever let your horse get away with sneaking up on you.
You will eventually benefit from an orderly horse who is a pleasure to lead. This will be better for you and everyone else who ever has to handle him. Your horse may have been the one that nobody wanted to catch but he could become the most popular horse in the yard!