Leading a Stubborn Horse

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Erickson Miniature Horses

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How do you lead a stubborn horse that won't budge? She'll walk fine for a little while then she'll stop and won't move. How do you get her moving again? What causes something like this? How do you train them to lead correctly?
 

Minimor

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How old is she? You can try a rump rope, that usually works well. Or you can use a stock whip in your left hand, reach back and tap her on the hindquarters to encourage her to move forward. This will often make the horse swing its rump away from you, so it helps to work along a fence or wall. Make sure you can reach far enough back to tap the hindquarter--if you tap the horse too far forward on the body it will cause her to pull back.

This spring I had a 2 year old that was hanging back; I put a rump rope on her a couple of times and that was all it took to show her that she had to lead up beside me. After that if she hesitated I just had to put my hand on her wither and then she would relax and move forward with me.

Do make sure that you are staying back beside the horse--I would stay at her shoulder. That puts you in a good position to reach back and tap her up with a whip if you need to, and your body position itself encourages her to walk forward.
 

QuiltinMom

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I am extremely new to horses (about a month now) and we have 3 miniatures. So I am probably not in any position to be offering advice, but I am going to anyway!!
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I just went to a horse clinic this last weekend that our local club put on. One of the things that I learned was if a horse stops walking and won't budge to not pull directly forward on them or it becomes a tug of war game to see who will win. Instead we were told to pull them to the left or the right to shift their weight and then they have to take a step. Just start walking in a different direction. Hope that makes sense.
 

Kendra

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Make sure you are back at the horse's shoulder and push forward with your right hand to ask them to move. If they get stuck like you describe, ask for a sideways step first, to "unlock" them.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I agree with Kendra (and Quiltinmoms clinician
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) 'unlock' the horse by pulling it sideways a step. If an than doesn't work you can begin to carry a dressage whip in your outside hand and use it as Minimor describes to encourage the horse to move up. Its usually a sign of either confusion (as in the horse has not really learned how to lead well yet), fear (doesn't want to approach what you are leading it to - trailer or??) or lack of respect for you as the decision maker. The circumstances of when and why the horse balks are something you will want to think about.
 

AngC

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...in my opinion.

The rump rope is good, but a bit of a hassle.

Positioning next to the horse shoulder is good. For example, I steer Nicky around by lining up my leg with his front leg, and then I just lay a hand on his neck to steer him around.

The stock crop to tap at the rump has never worked out for me; our horses are too short. I get the idea that you hold it in the same hand and then tap their bottom to get them to go forward, but they're (crops/whips) all the wrong length for minis.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned pressure/release. I read a really good web-site that helped me out hugely with that. I wouldn't post the link, though, because this guy has peeved off 99.9 percent of the women on the internet.

I think, to have them lead consistently, you have to make them want to walk with you. One of the easiest for me is bribes. A little smidge of a carrot treat goes a long way towards walking on the lead. (shrinking and hiding, but hey, it works for me.)
 

Minimor

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I personally hate messing with a rump rope--but fact is it works. And usually only takes one or two times of using it and the horse has the idea. overall it IS far less of a hassle than having the horse "stick" and then have to be pushed or pulled over to one side or the other to get him to unstick and start walking again.

I guess it is all in one's co-ordination--but I have a stock whip which works just fine on minis--it is actually one I bought as a driving whip, but it is also perfect for leading. A too-short crop is useless for leading--a too-long whip can be held a bit further down the handle to mAke it the right length. You need one which will reach back to the horse's back end without your having to twist around and turn away from the horse.

Sorry Ang--my horses like their treats and get plenty, but I would never use treats to teach a horse to walk with me. Have never needed to.
 

shorthorsemom

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I have used the rump rope with success. It can also help to change direction somewhat and then continue. I will walk into the horse and crowd them to move right and then adjust and walk forward. Loose (not clenched tight) rope, relaxed shoulders. I used to ride biggies.. Using some of the techniques of relaxing from the centered riding book can help if they "stick" due to fear of an object. If I tense, horse will tense. Release tension and relax your mind. Horses are hugely sensitive to cues you may not realize you are giving.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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...in my opinion.

The rump rope is good, but a bit of a hassle.

Positioning next to the horse shoulder is good. For example, I steer Nicky around by lining up my leg with his front leg, and then I just lay a hand on his neck to steer him around.

The stock crop to tap at the rump has never worked out for me; our horses are too short. I get the idea that you hold it in the same hand and then tap their bottom to get them to go forward, but they're (crops/whips) all the wrong length for minis.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned pressure/release. I read a really good web-site that helped me out hugely with that. I wouldn't post the link, though, because this guy has peeved off 99.9 percent of the women on the internet.

I think, to have them lead consistently, you have to make them want to walk with you. One of the easiest for me is bribes. A little smidge of a carrot treat goes a long way towards walking on the lead. (shrinking and hiding, but hey, it works for me.)
No, not the same hand, the opposite side in your free hand. Angle back behind your body and it can easily reach the horses butt. I find a dressage length whip works well but have used my lunge whip for this too just shortened up as Minimor describes. I wouldn't use treats for this either (each to their own of course) since I want them to lead because they respect my right to say where we go, when and how fast, not lead them like the old pictures I used to see of a donkey being driven by a person who had a carrot on a stick in front of them.
 

AngC

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Sorry... I didn't mean that I use treats to encourage them walk to with me when on halter.

But we do like feeding treats, because it's fun for us and they seem to like it.

And for us it works out that when it's time to walk with me/us, they think they might get a treat so they walk with us. (...or maybe they really love us and walk for the love of if, but I doubt it.)

So, by encouraging our horses to like us and be comfortable with us, I can generally walk them anywhere (without having them on a halter) by aligning my leg with their front leg, and commanding them to "walk." This has been especially useful with Nicky, because although it might not bother him that he runs into the side of the stall, I hate it, so at feeding time, I like that I can "steer him" away from the side of the stall. ...or when the rain is loud on the barn roof, I can "steer" him inside without having to mess with a halter.

I guess I'm a klutz. I have a 48-inch Stacy Westfall lunge whip; it's too long. The way the trainer showed me was to backhand "flick" the horse rump to encourage the horse. I never got the hang of it; I also noticed that the trainer threw the thing on the ground frequently when it was in her way. I then tried a little riding quirt; it was too short. So I'm sure it's do-able, I just never got the hang of doing it.
 

shorthorsemom

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A driving whip is the right length for a quiet tap reminder behind your back and you don't need to shorten the length with your grip.
 

HollynIvysMomma

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NOT an expert, by any means. But my girl Holly, who is now a year and a half, was the WORST balker. She'd just stop and you could pull her head off but she wasn't budging.

So I stopped pulling. I just stood next to her (at her shoulder) and didn't move, but didn't let her put her head down to eat, or move elsewhere. If she wouldn't move forward, that was her choice, but we weren't doing anything else.

It really worked. The first time we had to stand there a few minutes, but the wait time got less and less; Now she is quite good on the lead.
 

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