Be a Leader
If you’re like most horse owners, the time you have to spend with your horse is limited and valuable, which means that you need to make every second count when you’re interacting with him. One opportunity people often overlook is leading their horse to and from the pasture. If you’re with your horse, you might as well be teaching him something!
1. If this scenario looks familiar, you need to step up your game. Rather than letting your horse drag behind you and snatch grass, be a leader. Get his feet moving forwards, backwards, left and right to get him to tune in to you and to get in the right mind frame for your lesson ahead. Or, use the time to simply brush-up on the groundwork exercises you’ve taught him. Remember what I always say: Horses are nothing but maintenance with legs. You may have done a great job teaching your horse the Fundamentals exercises and have earned his respect and trust, but if you don’t remind him of those lessons, he’ll soon forget them. In order for the horse to continue to use the thinking side of his brain and remain respectful, you have to constantly remind him by moving his feet forwards, backwards, left and right and always rewarding the slightest try. Horses do not stay the same. Every day, they either get a little better or a little worse, depending on your interaction with them.
2. I love to back my horses every chance I get, and that includes when I’m taking them to and from the pasture. The better your horse backs up, the more responsive he will be in everything else you ask him to do. Not only should you back your horse up, but you should make it a point to switch up the ways in which you ask him to back. We teach four different types of backing up methods in the Fundamentals Series—Tap the Air; Wiggle, Wave, Walk and Whack; Marching; and Steady Pressure—the Outback Exercise in the Intermediate Series, and Backing Angles; Backing Circles; and Backing Serpentines in the Advanced Series. The more variety you add to your training, the more interested and content your horse will be.