Horses are regularly led from one place to another: from the box to the pasture and back, but also into the riding arena, onto the trailer, or past a dangerous place in the area. In order for all of this to work without any problems, the horse should be able to handle a halter. This means that it can be conducted easily and with confidence.
The Right Equipment
If you want to lead your horse safely, you have to keep a few things in mind:
- Always wear sturdy shoes and use gloves whenever possible. They prevent you from getting painful burns on your hand if your horse gets frightened and pulls the rope through your hand.
- Safety rules apply to your horse: Always close the halter correctly. A dangling throat strap with its hook can seriously injure your horse if it hits or gets caught on its head. A longer rope has the advantage that you can also use it to send and drive the horse. Lengths of between three and four meters have proven to be effective – try out what is best for you.
- You have to practice correct leadership. Otherwise, your horse doesn’t know what to expect from him. To practice, first, choose a quiet hour in the riding arena or in the riding arena. You don’t have to start in the thick of the hustle and bustle or walk along the street.
- It is also helpful to have a long whip with which you can show your horse the way, speed it up or stop it a little.
Here We Go!
- First, stand to the left of your horse. So you stand in front of his shoulder and you are both looking in the same direction.
- To start, you give a command: “Come” or “Go” works well. Make sure that you straighten up so that your body language also signals to the horse: “Here we go!” Remember that horses communicate with one another with very fine gestures. Horses pay more attention to body language because their communication is mostly silent. The finer your communication with your horse, the less spoken language you will eventually need. Clear words are very helpful for practicing. So stand up, give your command word and go.
- If your horse hesitates now and does not stride diligently next to you, you can swing the left end of your rope backward to send it forward. If you have a whip with you, you can point it behind you on the left side, so to speak, send the hindquarters of your horse forward.
- If your horse walks calmly and diligently next to you, you hold the left end of the rope relaxed in your left hand. Your crop points down. Your horse should diligently walk with you at the height of your shoulder and follow it in turns.
- You must never wrap the rope around your hand! It’s way too dangerous.
- Your body language supports you to stop. When stopping, keep in mind that your horse must first understand your command and then act on it – so give it a moment until it comes to a standstill. While walking, you first straighten yourself up again so that your horse is attentive, then you give the command: “And … stop!” The “and” draws attention again, your “stop” has a braking and calming effect – supported by your own stopping with your center of gravity shifted backward. An attentive horse will now stand.
- However, if your horse does not understand you correctly, you can raise your left arm and hold the whip clearly level in front of your horse. Every horse understands this optical brake. If it tries to run through this optical signal, then your device can wiggle up and down a little. The point is not to hit or punish the horse, but to show it: You can’t go any further here.
- A gang in a riding arena or on a riding arena is helpful here – then the horse cannot move with its rear to the side, but has to stand straight next to you.
- If the horse is standing still, you should praise it and then go back to your feet.
There are Two Sides to a Horse
- You can practice diligently going off, standing calmly, and starting again more often until your horse has understood you reliably.
- Now you can go to the other side of the horse and practice walking and stopping on the other side as well. Classically, it is led from the left side, but only a horse that can be led from both sides can safely be led past dangerous areas in the terrain.
- You can of course switch between the right and left sides while standing.
- Changing hands while moving is more elegant. For example, you go to the left of the horse, then turn left. Your horse should follow your shoulder. Now you turn to the left and take a few steps backward so that your horse follows you. Then you change the rope and/or the whip in the other hand, turn back to walk straight ahead, and send the horse over to the other side so that it is now on your left side. You have now changed hands and sent the horse around. It sounds more complicated than it is. Just give it a try – it’s not difficult at all!
If you can send your horse from side to side, send it forward, and stop safely like this, then you can safely take it anywhere.
If you’ve enjoyed leadership training, you can try a few skill exercises. A trail course, for example, is fun and your horse becomes more confident in dealing with new things!