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Old 18th Jun 2002, 08:36 PM
snailspace snailspace is offline
Learning @ a snail's pace
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 269
how to teach horse not to barge ahead!

Well, I went to see Chico today (see my thread "fitness program needed for horse"), just so we could get to know each other better. He's really very sweet, but when I put his halter/lead rope on him and led him around, he tried to lead me! It wasn't a scary kind of barging ahead - he wasn't doing it to be mean. He just would not match my pace and would get way ahead of me, and then when I pulled back on the lead to get him to slow down, he would turn in front of me instead!

How do I get him to walk WITH me and let me lead him!? Of course, when I took the halter off, he followed me around the whole pasture with his nose to the back of my hand!

Also, he has a habit of bumping you with his head, just playfully (he thinks), but enough to knock you off balance. How do I let him know that, even if that's acceptable with his owner, I don't want it done to me? He's really quite spoiled, but is a total sweetheart. I don't think he'll hurt me, but I don't want him trying to climb into my lap, either! He does know the meaning of "no" though, because the first time I said it to him, he shook his head and gave me that "how DARE you discipline me" look

I think he and I will get along fine if I can figure out how to react when he does something I don't approve of. Especially since it seems his owner lets him do things that I was always taught not to let a horse do!

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Old 19th Jun 2002, 07:08 AM
Posts: n/a
if you want to teach him to walk with you you can try two methods.
1) get a bull bit for hin ( ask before you use it) and get light tugs on it when he starts to get ahead of you.
2) use a ropr halter one him same as with the bull bit give light tusg when he get ahead of you.

The head butting might be a dominace thing, tell him off if he does it and try to renforce your dominace. My horse used to do this as well i always told him off and pushed him away, after a few time he stoped but he still did it to others (ie the boyfriend , etc)

Its just a matter of time and persistance to stop him.
Good luck
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 08:13 AM
Sharon H Sharon H is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: East Sussex
Posts: 668
You could try making him walk a circle every time he gets ahead of you. Hopefully he'll work out that barging ahead isn't getting him anywhere. I would also try doing it as a seperate 'lesson', ie. take him in to the field or the school and practice doing it, don't just try and teach him to lead when you're actually trying to lead him somewhere if you get my meaning?
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 08:36 AM
suze's Avatar
suze suze is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Folkestone
Posts: 261
I have had this problem to.
What I did was a few basic lessons in telling him where my space is.
Now if I step into his space while facing him he will take a step back.
If he takes a step into my space I tell him to take a step back.
Then with leading, Gosh he did pull me, I lost a finger nail on one occassion and injured my wrist on another.
By then I was unable to lead him cos of my wrist so it was time for him to learn his leading manners.
I walked while leading him, if he tried to get in front I made him stop. Dont forget you should not be forcing him to walk slowly, you should match his natural pace.
If he tried to pull left or right I made him stop.
He was soon leading very nicely.
Head bumping could be dangerous, I would tell him NO firmly every time he does it, he should soon learn that you will not overlook his manners. He does sound like a very sweet chap.
Good luck.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 08:48 AM
AmandaW AmandaW is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 228

When CheshireKate and I first took her loan horse Willow into the indoor school a few weeks ago, I thought I was going to be taken 'water skiing' (or should that be sand-skiing). He just completely barged past me and nearly took my arms out of their sockets! He was wearing just a regular head collar attached to a lunge line. By putting my hand on him and making him back up each time he barged past or bumped me with his head. We had him doing trot-halt transitions on a loose rein within minutes on the right (took longer on the left). Micheal Peace's book is excellent. I think Kate has been using Kelly Mark's book 'Perfect Manners' too.

Just goes to show you don't need pressure halters or even to jerk on the head collar to teach manners. We just showed him what he should be doing. A few weeks later Kate has got him following her and backing up through L-shapes with no line attached!

I really do not think that bits and pressure halters are good tools for anyone but the most experienced for this job. You can end up causing more problems than you solve. Why use a sledgehammer to crack a nut? You wouldn't tug on the bit in the horses mouth when riding and people would throw their arms up in horror if someone was yanking on a hackamore, but it seems acceptable with a pressure halter. Well that's my novice opinon anyway.

Chicco probably just needs reminding how we behave when being led around, he may never have been taught! So many horses seem to have this problem. I was once told by an owner that their horse was showing me affection as I was knocked smack into the stable wall by the horse in questions head!!

Take care


Sorry that seems to have turned into a rant but after a recent demo pressure halters seem to have become the latest must have.

Last edited by AmandaW; 19th Jun 2002 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 11:44 PM
snailspace snailspace is offline
Learning @ a snail's pace
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 269
Thanks, everyone! I went to see him again this morning, and his leading was better, after making him either stop, back up, or go in a circle when he barged ahead! I figured out that part of the problem is that he doesn't know how to lead from his "off" side (if you're standing on his right). I forgot that some horses are trained like that, because all three school horses I've had could care less which side they were handled from. Anyway, he still has a barging problem, but I think he'll get it figured out soon enough.

The head butting thing is another story! Every time he did it today, I would tell him "no" and move his head away from me. So then he would still do it, but he would think about it first! Obviosly, he thinks it's all a game, but today I was leading him across one of the hills in the pasture, and he just reached over with his head and bumped me, and I almost went down because we were on a slope! It took me a few steps to get my balance back. And he just standing there calmly watching me! I'll keep working on it, though

Suze, I've got to try the "space establishment" thing! His owner warned me that he thinks he's a lap dog. Sure enough, he is not happy unless his body is almost touching yours! Which wouldn't be too bad if there weren't four hooves waiting for the chance to pin my foot to the ground! Incidently, he knows "back", but doesn't seem to understand "over" or "move"! How do I go about teaching him not to invade my space?

I want to get our relationship sorted out NOW, because I can't ride him yet anyway (saddle and bridle are still at previous stable and he needs to see farrier). Honestly, he is the most un-horsey horse I've ever met! His owner says he prefers hanging around with people than other horses, and he will only graze if you're standing there with him, otherwise he'll just follow you wherever you go! Today, I wanted to say "Shoo, go be a horse" when I took his halter off. Instead he followed me ALL the way back to the barn, even trotting to catch up to me when he stopped to relieve himself!

It never occured to me to use a special halter or bit on him just to get him to lead. I can see where these things might be appropriate for certain horses in certain circumstances, but I believe that, with me and Chico, it's just a matter of him understanding what I expect of him. His owner thinks the head-butting thing is just a show of affection and "a cute quirk". I think it's rude! She thinks the "lap dog" quality is just part of his personality. I think its something that should be stopped before someone gets hurt! Also, I am not nearly experienced enough to use something like that properly.

Thanks for all the great tips! I meant to take my camera out today, but I forgot I'll try to remember tomorrow!
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Old 20th Jun 2002, 08:24 AM
AmandaW AmandaW is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 228

Oh I think Chico sounds adorable, bless.

I agree though, head butting is rude and I find it hard to feel in control when they seem to be standing right on top of you, if you see what I mean! I would stick to either circling him OR putting him back out of your space when he barges to save him getting confused. Moving him back out of your space when he head butts you, should work too. The message he needs to get is 'pay attention to my space' which should take care of the barging and head butting. When he gets it right he will then get the stroke on the neck and 'good boy'. Once he has learnt this lesson he will be less likely to catch your toes then too!

The over thing can be taught in a similar manner put place your hand where your leg would go for leg yeilding and give the command. I find its better to use an intermittant pressure or they just seem to lean on you. As soon as he moves to the side, you give a quiet pat and 'good boy'.

I am a novice too at this game, but just love learning this training lark. I think it's amazing how far you can get with quiet, consistant, direction. It is strange isn't it how they need to learn the task on each side. I have garbled on again, sorry!

Good luck with Chico and have fun. Ooh and yes it would be nice to see some photos of him!

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Old 25th Jun 2002, 06:36 AM
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Anja Anja is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: nz
Posts: 310
when we get a horse like that we swing the lead rope around in a circle infrount of the horse ( and yourself) and if they try to walk infrount of you they get a smack on the nose
i know it sounds mean but it works
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Old 25th Jun 2002, 05:48 PM
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suze suze is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Folkestone
Posts: 261

Hi snailspace

He realy should already understand space if his ever been kept with other horses.
The lead horse would not put up with another horse comming into their space, those further down the pecking order will back off if the lead horse does come into their own space.

I was leaning against the fence today and another pony came over, a very comical chap he is too. He rested his chin on my shoulder, ahh so sweet.
After that he started rubbing his head across my bum
Now although I was in no danger and he was not being hostile it could be a lot different if he got one of the kids up against the fence and did that.
I merely reminded him with a firm no and a little push and he accepted quite happily. He still stayed close but backed out of my space.
Good luck with Chico, remember to be kind - patient and yet firm.
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Old 26th Jun 2002, 11:27 AM
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virtuallyhorses virtuallyhorses is offline
NZ TB owner
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 2,787
the head butt, barging and esp the head shake if you tell him off, are definitely horse for "get stuffed I'm your superior"

If you've never 'round penned' before or don't want to, you can still teach him to respect you with a normal halter and lead rope and a little time.

Set aside some time for ground work and then begin to teach the following 'give ways' or 'yields'. - move over (hip), walk on, back up. I found move over easiest to start with, since you can get him to do this around you while you stand at his shoulder. Then backup. The pressure should be increasing until there is some response. The problem with intermittent pressure is that the 'release' is meant to be his reward for doing it right - if there's lots of little releases how's he going to know which bit was right. But you can 'increase the pressure' by swapping to another tool - waving a crop at his backside or something, just remember to stop the second he makes any movement in the right direction, no matter how small - then praise, small rest, begin again. the next time you should only need the finger pressure not the crop wave etc etc

If he will do each of these things for you then you can use them any time you are leading.

Before you begin these exercises - think what you are going to use as signals - a warning ( I use a sort of hissing sound but you may already do something else instinctively, a move sound (probably using a cluck already) and check your body language.

When leading I like my horse to be behind me out of my personal space (not pony club manual I know, but if he trips I don't want him landing on me!) If I stop (and if he's not concentrating, I stop frequently) he has to stop, If I back up, he has to back up - no contact or verbal requests.

When training for this I used looks (over the shoulder, think of yourself as a lead horse laying its ears back and snaking its head around) as a warning, next warning was a hiss, next warning was shaking the end of the lead rope at him in increasing degrees of ferocity.

Be consistent and he'll get it.

Last edited by virtuallyhorses; 26th Jun 2002 at 11:41 AM.
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