The team at Parelli UK provide advice if your horse gets strong when being led.
My horse is strong when I lead him, especially from the stable into the field. Can you help?
Horses are innately claustrophobic. Because they are prey animals, their survival is based on escape so anything that holds them back is cause for panic. They are literally programmed to push against pressure, so when you hold them tight and short it brings up those instincts and not only does the horse fight the containment, he crowds on top of you, fights for his head or rears up
Most people tend to think that it’s necessary to hold a horse on a short rope but the opposite is actually more effective and safer. By giving the horse a little more room he settles down emotionally and stops crowding you. Now all you need is a few strategies so you can get him where you want to go!
First of all, don’t wait until you are out of the stable to start… start in the stable! Horses learn patterns very quickly so they know that you’re taking them out of the stable and to the field. Not only has he been cooped up all night so he’s bursting with energy, but he’s thinking about getting to the field so his level of anticipation and excitement is high. The secret then is to do something different… put the halter and lead on your horse and don’t take him out of the stable right away.
Spend a little time maneuvering him in the stable… especially asking him to go backwards.
Teach him to move out of your space by doing some jumping jacks in place.
Do no open the door and take him out until he is settled, even if that means taking the halter off and leaving him in there for a while and coming back to it.
When you come out of the stable, ask him to wait as you open the door and then invite him out… this is where wiggling the rope will help. If he rushes out, turn him around and send him back in. Repeat this until he can calmly walk out at your request. Once again, do not pass ‘go’ until he is calm as things will only escalate and get worse.
Now you’re heading towards the field, here’s what to do:
Give your horse at least 3 – 4 feet of slack in the lead rope. Do not hold him short and tight or all the good work you’ve done to calm him down will evaporate.
Walk in a big, sweeping zig zag line towards the pasture, don’t go in a straight line. You might even stop along the way and give him a few mouthfuls of grass.
If your horse surges ahead of you, let the rope slide through your hand almost all the way. Keep walking and you’ll find your horse kind of arcs around in front of you. Simply shoo him out of your way but don’t miss a beat as you walk. Pretty soon he’ll figure out that staying a little behind you is a much nicer option!
Don’t just lead your horse from point A to point B, use every moment as an opportunity for doing something constructive with your horse.
For further information contact the Parelli UK team on 0800 0234 813 or visit www.parelli.com