Lead Exercises

Leading is a Basis Groundwork exercise. Horsefulness Training distinguishes 3 types of lead exercises. First, you have leading from the lead position. Second, you have leading from the partner position. And third, you have leading from the drive position.

Leading from the lead position

With this position you walk in front of the horse = in the lead position. The horse follows you. The horse stays out of your intimate space and if asked, out of your personal space as well. It's therefore necessary that you are able to show your space in a friendly yet assertive way.

The purpose of this exercise is to show the horse that you take your space in a calm but confident way. The horse learns to yield when you ask him to.

You also show the horse that you can take the lead: deciding where you both will go and at which pace.  

Leading from the partner position

In this position you walk shoulder to shoulder and you ask the horse to turn to the left/right, slow down, accelerate, stop, follow, etc., without putting pressure on his head.

Every horse reacts to body language, so pressure on the head is usually not necessary.

In this position, the human can ask the horse forward in an active way. This can be necessary, for example, with a more phlegmatic horse that doesn’t follow closely at a trot when you are in the lead position.


It's called the partner position because this position offen provides for a better connection; you're more in contact with each other, you walk side by side and, the human can touch his horse just as the horse can touch and nose at his human.

This exercise gives horses extra “support", which can be especially helpful for those prone to incertitude or fear. It's also a preparatory exercise for in-hand gymnastic work.Advanced horse(wo)men may decide in some instances to give the lead to the horse in this position.

Leading from the drive position

In this position, the horse walks in front of his human, and the trainer walks diagonally behind the horse's drive line.

The trainer can certainly be the one that leads in this “herd of two” during this way of leading.  Because also from this position it's possible to ask your horse to turn, slow down, speed up, etc. However, the advanced trainer can also give the lead to the horse. It's important that the human can take back the lead at any time.

The liberty connection exercise “Easy Herding” is the ideal preparation for this lead position, but also the previous 2 lead exercises can help prepare you for leading from the drive position.

In the drive position (as with the others), we try to work mainly with body language, asking the horse to turn and to stop without no or as less pressure on the head (from the lead rope) as possible.

Leading becomes a dance

From each lead position, you can lead your horse from point A to point B, through an obstacle course, in traffic, etc. You choose the lead position depending on the horse and the situation.  You can also alternate these positions to fit the situation at hand. First, you practice each lead position separately, then you learn to deal with them dynamically so you can change from one lead position to another fluidly.

At that point leading becomes a harmonic dance, in which you lead and the horse follows, and other times your horse leads and you follow the horse.

Have you seen our Basic Groundwork Program?

If you're eager to enhance your groundwork skills with a mindful, horse-friendly approach, our Basic Groundwork Program has you covered. It includes all the essential exercises for you and your horse.


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