Leading trail rides with your troubled horse


Hi Tyler: The Problem I have is that my horse does not like to lead when we go on trail rides. All she wants to do is follow the lead mare.


First off, thank you for your question, I really appreciate it.  As I have thought through this question, I have realized how difficult this is going to be to explain what I would do with your horse through words alone so bare with me.

Based on the question and how it was stated, the simple comical answer would be to get rid of the lead mare, but we both know that wouldn’t solve any of the real issues at hand.  In theory all you need to do is get to the horses feet.  Meaning that you have to get your reins and body connected to your horses feet as if they were your own.  Once you are able to get to the feet, your horse would become completely oblivious to everything else, but you.

The next question then, is how do you get to the feet.  There are countless ways to accomplish this, but I will try to suit a more specific way to get your horse connected to you.  My first issue to resolve would be unquestioned forward movement from you to your horse.  If you can get your horse to move out exactly when you want, then all you need to do is help your horse find straightness by staying in your rectangle.  Chances are your horse balks when spooked or due to being herd bound the horse lacks forward movement.  If you are able to get your horse freed up through ground work before you get on, you should be able to offer forward motion with out trouble.  Always offering a good deal by first rolling your hips slightly forward while simultaneously lifting your legs off the side of your horse to position yourself best if your horse doesn’t respond to the good deal.  Give a slight waving motion with your legs offering the horse yet another good deal.  If you get a lazy response or no response you should follow through, with tempo, to do whats necessary to get a positive change in the forward life.  If you are consistent and firm when needed, it should take no time at all to get a change leading to a responsive soft response in which kicking should become obsolete.

Now you have forward motion, the next step is getting your horse to go straight.  A trail ride is a great opportunity to constantly correct your horses straightness.  Just today I whipped out a good horse, but didn’t have time to check him out much so did what I could leading a trail ride.  By the end of it, he was back to being light and correct.  Along the way I am sure I made thousands of adjustments, but the better he got the more release he received.

To obtain straightness on the trail every time your horse steps off your line you must adjust by correcting the off step.  Meaning that if your horse drops his shoulder to the right off of your line, then you simply collect him, leg yield him over accordingly based on the infraction.  If it was only one step, I would simply pick him up move him one to two steps opposite the infraction.  If he would take 4 or 5 steps off, well that’s terrible timing on my part, and I would have to go atleast 5 to 20 steps the opposite direction with collection.  Leg Yielding is only done with proper collection.

Do not try this if you are unable to free your horse up before hand for when you firm up, you may get a bit more then you bargained for.  Judge your situation accordingly and if you have questions on anything just let me know.  To break down other movements I will have to make separate postings on them.  These movements are very simple in theory, but figuring out how to achieve the movements with different horses is a lifetime study in itself.