Occasionally you can meet a horse that thinks it’s just fine to pull his handler along. Don’t blame the horse; somebody taught him to do this by not being consistent in leading exercises during the horse’s formative years.

When you feel a horse put the slightest tension on the rope, that is the beginning of him pulling you around. If you deal with it when it’s “small,” it’ll never get to the stage where you are grass skiing behind a horse that is totally oblivious to your existence.

So let’s say you’re walking along with the horse, and you feel him beginning to get strong and pull you along. Turn away from the horse very firmly and sharply, and walk back the way you came. He’ll now be behind you. If he again starts to pull in front, turn away again strongly and sharply, remembering not to look at him. If he pulls you, change direction (you’re actually taking charge of his feet) until he gets the idea that he’s not supposed to pull. This is amazingly successful if you catch the moment when the “pull” is just a thought in the horse’s head. By the time you’re “skiing” it’s too late—you missed the moment!

International Horse Agility Club Founder Vanessa Bee shows how we can spend more time handling our horses on the ground in order to achieve good behavior, mutual trust, and a healthy partnership, whatever discipline we choose to pursue.

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