If you’ve ever experienced a horse who has pulled or barged over you or tanked off when leading, you’ll know that it can be annoying, worrying or even dangerous. Being able to lead nicely is a necessary skill for all horses, ponies and donkeys in their day-to-day handling, but how do you teach a horse who pulls or barges to lead nicely without fighting or increasing the pressure?
The donkey in this video is Ned. He arrived to Hope Pastures rescue centre just before we filmed this, with a lot of issues around being handled, touched and especially being led. The staff there are brilliant and they handled him as quietly and gently as they could each day, but he had a very ingrained habit of pulling barging and tanking off and if you felt unable to do so would often bite strike and kick.
This is where I met him and began training. As I started to peal back the layers, I found an anxious and confused donkey underneath. Since horses (and ponies and donkeys) are generally peaceable herd animals, I find that most ‘problem behaviours’ stem from confusion, anxiety, frustration or overexcitement. My approach is always to find the calm connection first and build from there.
This creates a great relationship and is a gentle way of training that I’ve found to be highly effective and enjoyable for everyone. Certainly, Ned and I really enjoyed our time together and it was wonderful to open up that communication and build the relationship with him. When he started choosing to hang out and snooze next to me in the breaks… OMG, just so rewarding for me! But, that happened later – this was Ned’s first session (out of eight that I did with Ned for the CT Foundation Home Study Course in the CT Club) where the focus was really on leading because I had to help him improve his leading fast so that he could be safely and happily handled daily by the Hope Pastures staff.
This is what I did and I hope it help you solve any leading issues you may have:
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