Follow the Leader: the horse in hand

First off a huge ‘thank-you’ to everyone who came out to the emergency work party on Sunday to dig ditches, attack brambles and fix fences (with extra special thanks to Kat & Tyrel who came out TWO days in a row, having spent Saturday with Andy clearing the ditch around the manure pile — awesome!)  Richmond blessed us with its superior weather once more, and I think I acquired my first sunburn of the year, but now, on to the topic of the week …

Leading your Horse

Having caught and haltered your horse, the next step is:

3. Lead horse out of stall or paddock, lead at the walk

There are a surprising dearth of good videos on this very simple topic.  The best I found was this:

The handler in this video is careful to walk at arm’s length from the horse’s shoulder, and correctly does not loop the rope around her hand.  However, I’m not a big fan of stud chains.  As the name implies, they are intended for use with fractious stallions, and can be helpful with an extremely excitable horse.  I would only use them in specific situations, and never as an everyday tool, since they are painful and can harm the horse if used regularly or incorrectly.

Here’s what we are looking for when you lead your horse for the Horsemanship 1 test:

1. When exiting the paddock, hold the gate and let the horse walk around you so the gate doesn’t bump or spook him.  Close the gate.

2. Lead from the horse’s left (near) side, about an arm’s length out from his shoulder, so he doesn’t step on you.

3. Your right hand should be 6-10″ below the clip of the lead rope. Choking up on the lead rope may give an illusion of more control, but in fact gives the horse more leverage if he were to lift his head and try to drag you around.

4. The excess rope is held in the left hand in a figure 8 or peanut shape, not looped around the hand.  This allows you to let go of the rope safely if your horse bolts or rears.  (Never try to use your strength against a horse’s — he’s heavier and stronger.  Let him go, and catch him when he’s calm).

5.  Your horse should halt when you halt and walk on when you walk.  When turning the horse always turn the horse away from you if possible to avoid being stepped on.

I couldn’t find a single video that showed all these steps (note to self: time to start filming at Red Colt for Duello TV?).  However I did find a lot showing what not to do. For the bonus question this week, list everything wrong in this video:

next week: the quick release knot



Jennifer Landels Jennifer Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. She started the program as an excuse to combine those passions.
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