Horse-Training Basics: Leading Without Resistance

Lead your horse with ease and lightness with these horse-training tips.

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

If you can lead your horse in a halter with ease even at a trot, he will be much simpler to show in halter classes or to trot during a veterinary exam or inspection. By the end of this exercise, your horse won’t stay with you because he is forced to do so, but because he understands it’s a comfortable place to be.

How Do You Do It?

Lay the rope over your arm between your elbow and your body, and then run it along the inside into your hand. Avoid wrapping the rope around your arm, which would be extremely dangerous.

Leave about three feet of slack between you and your horse. Standing by his shoulder, start by raising your energy level so that the horse realizes that something is going to happen. Let him know that you are about to set off by clucking your tongue and moving your rope arm forward, but without tightening the lead rope. Walk forward. If your horse does not follow, the slack will disappear and he will feel unpleasant tension in his halter. As soon as he starts to move, relax your arm immediately to release uncomfortable pressure on his head.

If you found this horse-training exercise helpful, just wait until you see what else AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship can offer you! Purchase this series today so you can make the most of your horse and the relationship you have with him.

After having done the exercise a few times, the horse will begin to realize that something is about to happen before it actually does. While anticipation is not always a good thing, because the horse just repeats in a parrot fashion instead of thinking about what he has been asked to do, it is actually desirable in this instance.

The horse will soon move with you at the slightest indication before the slack comes out of the rope and puts pressure on his head. Allow him to walk alongside you, but do not allow him to pass you.

At this stage, you should simply aim for a good responsive start and an ongoing connection, but you might introduce a few changes of direction that will keep the horse connected and attentive.

This exercise illustrates the importance of using the right equipment. Do not attempt to do this with halters made from flat webbing or lined with sheepskin. They are not designed to help you educate your horse. The rope halter has been specially designed to apply pressure to the appropriate areas and will motivate your horse to search for a solution.

This is only a small part of what you could learn in AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship series. Purchase this series so you and your horse can work on a number of exercises designed to improve your horsemanship.

Three Tips for Success

    • Rub the horse gently whenever you stop and appreciate his presence. This will help your horse want to be with you. And if your horse actually wants to be with you, it’ll make not only this exercise easier, but also everything else you do with your horse.

    • You must remember that it is not enough to make wrong decisions uncomfortable. You also have to make the right ones comfortable.

    • Remember that a horse does not know when the lesson begins or ends. His whole life consists of continuous experiences and learning.

AQHA Video

AQHA teamed with La Cense Montana to develop AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship, a comprehensive guide to improve your relationship with your horse. This lesson demonstrates putting on and taking off a halter. Sounds pretty basic, right? But how you do it says a lot about your relationship.


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