Home Horsemanship Basics One of Many Ways

One of Many Ways

Written by Joe Wolter

This article originally appeared in Eclectic Horseman Issue No.46

I am going to share something I learned the other day with a horse I was getting used to pulling a log. This mare was one I had ridden for quite awhile and was actually getting her ready to maybe show at a versatility contest.

She is real qentle and has had calves roped and drug off her a number of times. When I went to pull the log, she got really bothered. She would stay with me but she really didn’t want to. I worked this way for several days thinking she would get better. Well, she did not. I tried different things like pulling something lighter, something heavier, and even just letting her drag the rope with nothing on the end of it. All this from both sides. She just would not let down.

A friend came by for a visit and I told him what was going on. We decided we would maybe try something different. I had him drag the log with another horse while I would allow my mare to follow around behind. Now, I did not try to hold her behind the log but allowed her to be there. By that I mean when she would leave left or right of the dragging log, I would ask her to get collected or drive her hind feet closer to her front feet with as soft a feel as I could get. All the while I would notice her wanting to get back into position behind the log which was moving.

When that would happen, I would turn her loose totally and allow her to investigate or leave whatever she chose. When she left I would repeat the process. It was not long till she would just stay hooked behind the log with no help from me and was not bothered at all. I then moved up ahead of the log or between the log and the rider dragging the log. I offered her to stay there but did not make her. If she left I would let her, but that gave me the opportunity to shorten her stride with softness. If she thought about getting back towards the moving log or horse, I would let her and offer her no/zero pressure.

In no time she felt like the log wasn’t even there and was softer than I have ever had her. From there I just went to pulling the log and she acted like she had never had a problem with it.This was a lot of fun. By changing my approach it made a huge difference to my horse.If this story were to help, I would hope the reader would realize that horses, like us, always need to have a choice. Or be allowed to search for what this rider wants versus just to be made with no choice.Now there are many ways to accomplish the same thing, but this was just ONE.

This article originally appeared in Eclectic Horseman Issue No.46

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Joe Wolter

Joe is known for his deep understanding of livestock and his thoughtful, good-natured way with animals and people. His techniques are based on practical ranch experience and lessons learned from some of the world’s most renowned horsemen. Learn more: www.joewolter.com