Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fidgeting, Surging while leading

hey Rick
I just use my horse for trail riding only. i have 2 problems that i would like to fix.1. he wont stand still when i stop. 2. when i lead him he wants to walk ahead of me. do you have any pointers to help me with these problems or have a book that covers this?

Hi Mike,
Many behaviors such as fidgeting during saddling, surging ahead while leading, walking off while mounting, moving around at the standstill, etc. are helped by immediately backing your horse up. Don’t do this in anger, but do adopt a strong, assertive attitude and fix the image of him backing firmly in your mind. Start with gentle pressure on the reins or lead rope and escalate as needed to get him started moving. Hold that level of pressure until he’s gone ten steps, then release it, and praise him. Then go back to whatever you were doing. If he makes the mistake again, and he probably will, repeat. Remain businesslike in your attitude, not emotional. You don’t want him to feel threatened in any way. However, you do want him to realize that there is a negative consequence every time for that behavior.

Backing reminds the horse that you are leader and gets him thinking about his feet rather than the undesirable behavior he was exhibiting. In nature, a horse very seldom backs up. He may take a step or two (usually at the request of a more dominant horse) then he goes forward or to one side.

Backing puts a horse out of position to flee predators and creates a feeling of vulnerability in the horse’s mind. When he backs up at your request, it reinforces his role as the follower in your relationship. In other words, it reminds him that he must respect you. When you maintain a neutral or businesslike attitude, it assures the horse that you are not going to hurt him and works on building his trust.

There are no “magic bullets” in training horses, but backing, lateral flexion, and disengaging the hindquarters seem to help in almost any problem situation.

1 comment:

grace said...

Rick and Mike,
I have a mare that used to do this running past me thing like Mike describes. My mare was indicating my lack of leadership by taking over for me. We did ground school for a few days then followed up by learning new habits and sticking to them. This was harder for me than her.
There were two parts that cured her charging. The Tellington-Jones part was leading her on a relatively loose line held in my left hand (horse on right) and a 4’ ‘Wand’ in my right hand. As I walked along I was waving the wand up and down not real fast but not slow either. When my mare began to take over she walked into the moving wand. She only did this twice.
Then there was the Clinton Anderson method, I would lead the mare on a slack line (read plenty of float in line) on the near or off side. As soon as she took her nose past my shoulder I would double back (turning away from the horse) sharply pulling the leading hand to my power position at the waist and pop her on the fanny with the tail of the rope in the other hand. That HQ would really move. Then as long as she maintained her position she got to walk along with a lot of float in the rope. Again, twice and she had it. Now the rope can drag the ground on either side she stays with the person leading her. I added a few days of yield your shoulders and hide your hiney. Now she is a dream for anyone to handle on a lead rope.
Now she pays better attention doing mounted work too. The horse you lead is still the horse you ride