February 21st,  2024

By Karine Vandenborre

Knowing how to lead your horse
can keep you out of trouble

In the last 2 weeks, I've received five questions from horsewomen experiencing problems with their horses, of which I know ask for the same way of working.

The problems and "solutions"

One lady's dealing with a 13-year-old gelding who's quite nippy when leading him. Another has a young mare that recently knocked her over. 

Then there's a horse that's impatient when being led to the pasture, one that bolts into the stable, and another doesn’t want to come along.

One person said to have solved this by keeping her horse on a shorter lead, another mentioned giving her horse a quick tug on the rope whenever he tries to bite her, and yet another admitted to letting someone else handle her horse to the pasture because she's become fearful herself.

The right solution

Although connection work is always of major importance, there is something else that all these horsewomen should do: lead exercises.
Lead exercises aren't just "ordinary" exercises; few people realize that they form the foundation of groundwork. Without proper leading, you'll struggle to make progress in any other aspect of groundwork.

A horse that bites? Lead exercises
A horse that knocks you over? Lead exercises.
A horse that bolts into the stable? Again, lead exercises.
A horse that's impatient when being led? Yes, lead exercises.
A horse that's reluctant to follow? You guessed it, lead exercises

It's all interconnected

But correct leading is also crucial and a necessity during trailer loading, traffic training, and obstacle training.
Moreover, proper leading will ensure smoother lunging, in-hand work, and even riding. Yes, riding too!
Because when you can lead your horse better during leading exercises, it'll also be easier to lead your horse when you’re in the saddle.
And incorporating "waiting exercises" during leading sessions will translate to better standing still under saddle too.

As always: everything is interconnected.
So, my advice is when it comes to groundwork: focus on mastering correct and mindful leading! Do it right from the start, and you'll avoid many problems later on!

Need help with your leading skills?

Not sure where to begin? Or need help with leading your horse in a mindful, and confident way? Have a look at the Horsefulness groundwork Program.

In the module about lead exercises you'll find 15 videos covering the ins and outs of the 3 lead positions: leading from the lead position, the partner position, and the drive position.

With Love,
-- Karine