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Leading and Lead Training

All young horses need lead training


Here is the right way to lead a horse

  • stand on the horse's left side
  • hold the end of the lead rope closest to the horse's head in your right hand, about 6 inches from the halter
  • in your left hand hold the rest of the rope just folded up, don't wrap it around your hand
  • stand at the horse's left shoulder facing forward, then step forward with a gentle tug on the rope with your right hand
  • to turn the horse twist your hand wither right or left, depending on which way you want him to turn
  • to stop, say "whoa", stop walking, and give a backward tug on the rope
  • don't lead a horse by putting a handin the halter instead of using a lead rope
  • don't walk in front of your horse with him trailing behind you
  • never coil the lead rope around your hand, ad you can be dragged if the horse suddenly takes off

    Lead Training

    Lead ropes don't lead horses. You're kidding yourself if you think a little rope is all it takes to control a horse. You use the rope to tell communicate the speed, the direction, and the shape you want the horse to move.

    The simplest exercise is teaching the young horse to come to a halt. This can be done anywhere, by walking the horse around, then every now and then standing still while giving the comand "stand". But do not pull backwards on the lead rope when you stop, just a little resistence pressure.

    At first the young horse will stop in front, but its hindquarters may move in a quarter circle. But he will learn to come to a full halt.

    These early lessons should only last from 10 to 15 minutes, and can be begun while the animal is still a foal.

    Start by bringing the horse into a small indoor arena. In beginning lessons, this will have fewer distractions than being outside and make it easier to keep the horse's attention.

    Its first time in the arena, the horse is going to want to check everything out. Let it run and play, do not direct where the horse goes, you just follow it around.

    Repeating this play lesson using consistent moves establishes two concepts that become logical to the horse. When you face the same way as the horse shoulder to shoulder, it indicates a direction for forward motion. When you turn towards the horse, it means stop and stand.

    Once the horse understands these two concepts, you can turn from facing his shoulder, to facing with him in the same direction and encourage him to walk forward with you. You do this by making an obvious move with your feet.

    You will gradually build on these concepts to lead the horse forward or ask him to stop and stand whenever and wherever you want.

    Teaching the horse to back is important. Don't think that one little step backwards is backing. Pick up the reins, shift your weight back a little, and as soon as he takes a step back, release the pressure. Build on that, until he keeps backing as long as you are asking.

    Your goal in lead training is to teach the horse a consistent language that always has the same meaning. The horse will eventually know what to do, whether it's longing, getting on a trailer, or standing for the farrier.

    Dealing with rearing and resistence to your lead training

    Best Lead Ropes

    Polypropylene horse lead lines stay soft and flexible and are always easy to grip with less chance of getting rope burn. These high quality ropes are UV protected so they won't fade in the sun. There are a wide variety of color options to choose from to match any of your existing accessories. These ropes will not rot or mildew and can be stored wet. Be sure too use solid brass swivel snaps that won't rust.

  • Read the next horse training article on Longeing and Long Lining.
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