As most people know, between a horse and his owner, the owner is always the leader. But not all people know how to be the right leader for their horse. They are either being bossed around by their own horse or they command their horse the wrong way. The real way to become the right leader is to start taking charge of the horse and telling him you're the general and he’s the the private.
Let’s say the horse’s name was Roger, and Roger is a young colt who is just getting used to being a nice trail riding horse. Everything starts with ground working even though Roger already has been ridden before and is already used to that. But Roger is a high spirited horse and is too playful, bossy and is not very well trusted near younger children. As months pass without any training Roger becomes more and more bossy and what used to be a playful and cute nibble becomes a dangerous bite. When Roger was younger it wasn’t much of a bother if the little colt got in the way or jumped around you or nibbled at your shirt. In fact, the owner thought that was very cute and encouraged him. But what most owners don’t know is that this could turn into very bad habit and could hurt someone. So from the start it is not something to think is cute and encourage because this is a very bad habit and very hard to get rid of when the horse is older. Since the horse is bigger, the nibble becomes a bite, and getting in your path for attention or a treat becomes pushing you around and possible stepping on you which can lead to great injuries.
So it is very important to get rid of any of kind of habit that may seem cute at first but will frustrate you, hurt you, or allow the horse to become the leader of the two.
Let's say Roger also has a problem of not stopping when asked, while leading. Actually when I was working with a real horse (Raleigh), that same horse used to walk over me which is the same behavior Roger shows. But I learned from Raleigh’s owner that whenever he starting walking in front of me when I had already asked him to stop, then I need to jerk the rope or halter back a couple of times. This is a punishment because in this case he’s challenging my leadership. So doing this goes for many horses and Roger is one of them. If any horse ever starts walking in front of you after the signal was already given to stop then jerking the rope back gives him a warning from you.
Other signs like this may usually mean the horse is been disrespectful, but it also may mean that something is bothering the horse. It’s always very important to understand and watch for signs that could mean many things that you could miss or misunderstand.
When lunging, Roger may sometimes cut part of the round pen across and won’t make a full circle like he’s supposed to. This is very simple to fix! Where ever he cut it’s best to put pressure where he cuts and release pressure where he doesn’t cut. Every time he cuts put pressure but if he doesn’t cut don’t put pressure, this will tell him that you want him to make the full circle. By putting pressure I mean start clicking, whipping the ground and come towards him so he would move and make the full circle again. You can also find out why he cuts across. In this case it’s because he cuts across the opposite side of the gate where he can exit the round pen and not have many more work to do. Which means he wants to skip the part where it’s farthest away from the exit and be nearer to the exit. In this case he’s been lazy.
Here’s another problem I made up about Roger. He also won’t go very far away from his paddock when rode. He will only go to the arena where he does most of his ground work. Leading him away is fine, but riding him away is big problem. Where Roger is boarded there are many good trails to go trail riding but when he doesn’t go it isn’t fun for either the rider or Roger. The only time you can really enjoy a nice long trail ride is if he goes in a trailer and is driven some where else to go trail riding. But sometimes it’s easier and more fun to just ride around the hills meadows near home. Most people at this point would get upset with their horse when they have this problem. In fact a lot of people will blame the horse because they might think that the horse is dumb or disobedient. Almost always there’s a problem that the owner/rider ignores or doesn’t understand what’s happening because he or she is too busy being upset.
In this case Roger is a friendly young horse who enjoys and loves his neighboring horses, so that means he trusts them and his horse instinct is to stay near his herd where he thinks he’s safe. In fact Roger has always lived with many other horses and is almost always around them.