Teaching horses to lead politely

We have owned and operated Apple Treat Stables for over six years now and I am surprised that so many horses have not been taught to lead politely. We lead the horses to and from the pasture every day and take that opportunity to work with them. We expect our horses to walk next to us on a loose lead keeping their head straight ahead, not looking around from side to side. Since horses have eyes on the side of their heads they do not have to move their heads around to see. Horses should be taught to walk at the speed of their handler, not dragging behind or running ahead. Whether we are riding or leading our horse, we become a herd of two and as the leader of the herd we are in charge of the direction and speed of our horse. Since horses are claustrophobic you should not hold the lead line up by the halter but hold it about 8 to 10 inches away. I teach everyone to use both hands when leading a horse so if your horse spooks you can release your right hand but still have a hold of the lead and your horse with your left hand. There should be a couple of feet of rope between your hands.

Our workers learn to lead the quieter horses first before we allow them to handle the younger “hotter” horses. We teach our handlers the correct safe way to release a horse into the pasture and to be aware of the herd hierarchy when removing a horse from the pasture.

Good consistent handing helps the horses feel safe and in control, when horses feel safe and secure in their environment they are less reactive and safer around people in the barn. People often comment about how quiet our horses are when they are all in their stalls and good consistent handling is one of the reasons.

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