We have your horse walking successfully on a lead rope and responding to your body language and vocal cues. He trusts you and has picked up only good habits (we hope). Let’s continue our training.
Tip #1: Begin to ground train your horse. A long rope or lunge line is clipped to the halter so that the horse can begin to work through faster paces with you on the ground, so that you don’t have to run along side (which is impossible to do for any length of time). You will not be letting your horse run around in a circle around you either, you will be training them to further respond to your body language and vocal cues. Make sure your horse can stop well on the short lead before you begin.
Tip #2: Longeing your horse is a great way to warm-up your horse even once you start riding, so starting off on the right foot is essential. Start by keeping the horse within 15 feet and just walking in a circle around you. You will not be standing still, but walking in a small circle yourself. Start by having your horse go counter clockwise and point your left hand toward your horse’s head and have a long whip in your right hand, pointed just behind your horse’s rear. Start with the walking for 10 or 15 minutes going both directions. Work repeatedly to make certain your horse will stop at the 15 foot distance before moving on.
Tip #3: Once you and your horse are comfortable with the walk in both directions (you need to stay in control) and stopping on command, then ask your horse to trot. Eventually you will move the horse out to the end of the line both directions but don’t rush that.
Tip #4: If your horse is younger than two years old, only walk and trot your horse when ground training. Even a two year old horse should not be cantered for very long. The slower you work your horse, the stronger and more confident your horse will become.
Tip #5: Keep an eye on your horse every time you put him on the longe line. You can learn a lot about your horse from these lessons that will help you diagnose problems when they arise. Always watch for uneven gaits and consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about your horse’s soundness.
Tip #6: Teach your horse to safely load into a trailer. Most horses have some unease about this, especially if the trailer is small and dark. Make sure to open the front of the trailer and have hay waiting at the front.
Tip #7: Always walk next to your horse when loading into the trailer. Walking in front of your horse could get you seriously injured. Let your horse move through this process in steps if necessary. Start and stop as often as needed to build confidence. But always move ahead in your training (even when you are backing down the ramp).
Tip #8: Now that your horse can successfully longe and load into a trailer, start to introduce riding equipment. Slowly introduce the bridle without the bit and the saddle pad without the saddle.
Tip #9: When you are ready to add the bit to the bridle and the saddle to the pad, make sure you have spent some time longeing first. This will take some of the fight out of the horse and his natural work-out hormones will make him more willing to accept new things. Plus it goes back to working on comfortable things before learning new ones.
Tip #10: Once your horse is comfortable with the new equipment, spend considerable time longeing him in his bridle and saddle. You will have an easier time getting on your horse and riding if he goes through these steps first.