How to Teach Your Horse to Lead Efficiently

Not sure how to teach your horse how to lead? Check out our blog to find out where to start.

Written By:

The Pivoriders Team
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Build a relationship with your horse

Building a relationship with your horse is the first step to training them. It will be challenging to train a horse if they don’t trust you and feel comfortable around you. Communication between you and your horse will be easier if you give it time to get to know each other.

It is a great way to bond with your horse. Horses thrive on routine and repetition. Therefore, the more time you spend with your horse, the more comfortable and familiar they will feel around you.

You can achieve this in several ways, such as grooming them, bathing them, leading them around to graze, and so forth.

Points to consider

  • Insufficient training is the main cause of poor leading behavior
  • A horse that leads efficiently is safer to be around
  • Your horse should be able to keep up with your speed when you are leading, preferably with a slack lead rope.
  • Horses will pick up your body language if you are consistent.
  • The easiest way to get started is to have the horse bridled. However, good manners will soon translate to a lead rope and halter.

Horses that aren’t easy to handle on the ground can be unsafe to be around

Horses that are not easy to handle on the ground are somewhat of a misery to be around. Maybe their training was too fast. Perhaps the owners didn’t realize there was more to training horses to lead than just dragging them along. These horses are far from unique in their ability to lead well. Many horses don’t lead well, and many people have never had to handle one.

Ideally, your horse should lead with the same perfection in a halter, bridle, or free in a round pen. If your horse responds well to the halter but not in the saddle, you can use the bridle as a teaching tool.

Equipment you will need  

Surprisingly, you don’t need much equipment for this project. You will need a halter, a long lead rope, and somewhere safe such as a round pen, to contain the horse should things go wrong.

Step you can take to lead your horse

Step 1

Start by putting your horse in a halter and attaching a long rope. Position yourself in front of the horse and slightly to the side, a good indication is the point of the shoulder.

Although it may seem contrary to what you have been taught, when you are working with a pushy individual, you should be out to the side in the event he gets a fright. This can cause them to rear into you, or run towards you or even try to strike at you. From this point of shoulder position, it gives you room to move in almost any direction and out of their way.

He can also see where he should go next, which is alongside you.

Step 2

Walking with purpose is critical. Make several turns in the direction of your horse and frequently stop to get his attention.

Another great exercise is to stop, make your horse back up and give him a rub on his neck or face to thank him for being polite, then walk on.

This encourages your horse to stop instead of just pushing ahead.

Step 3

Your horse should always be looking to you for the next cue while you are leading him.

If he isn’t paying attention and barges into your face, stop and wave the rope to get him to back off or slow down. Then, when he’s back to you, rub his neck to show appreciation.

This teaches him to respect your bubble and rewards them for doing the right thing when asked.

Step 4

It is essential to be clear about your intentions and to take control of your space, whether you are leading or making a pushy horse move out of your bubble.

Horse language is mirrored if a horse tries to barge into another horse in the herd, and you are no different.

If you find that you are struggling with a particularly difficult horse, don’t be afraid to enlist the assistance of a professional. Even paying for some lessons, where they can teach you how to be more affective in your training methods can be a lot less costly than many mistakes if you don’t achieve the desired result.