Teach Leading using Clicker Training

There is more to leading than meets the eye – the horse must understand a lot of different cues from the headcollar and handler:

To come forward when they feel pressure behind their ears
To stop when they feel pressure on their nose
To go backwards from pressure their nose
To turn left when they feel pressure on the right hand side of their face and vice versa
Not to mention being led from both sides, sometimes behind the handler (eg TREC competition rules or being led down a very narrow track), sometimes beside the handler  (eg conventional leading or lateral and in-hand work), sometimes in front of the handler (eg long-reining, even riding falls into this category a bit too). Then you have all the different cues for moving hindquarters, shoulders, head, whole body sideways, up ramps, down hills, walk calmly past a field of galloping horses and so on and so on…

Quite a lot when you think about it like that! Leading a horse is something which has to be taught as much as picking their feet up or understanding ridden aids.

This video shows how I introduced leading to a 3yo mare who had had very little handling, but had to be led 3 miles to her new home. I had 3 days to do it in and used clicker training to help Red understand exactly what I wanted from her.

Don’t take leading for granted. If you have leading problems with your horse, take a moment to ensure they fully understand what you’re asking for and, if not, go through a training process to make sure they do. That way, you can eliminate leading problems and never have to fight your horse again – it’s even fun training it this way!

4 Responses to Teach Leading using Clicker Training

  1. Rachael says:

    That was lovely to see. I like how light and easy you made it.
    Were you eating treats too though? – trainers perk?

    • Profile photo of admin admin says:

      lol, the owner had chopped the carrot into very big chunks (much bigger than my stingy clicker treats!), so I was biting them in half. I think I did eat a few, too, though…!

  2. Gill says:

    What a lovely cob. A very pertinent subject for me at the mo, currently doing the training of my life with a very wary and huge Highland foal. He will not take treats, he doesn’t want scratches, his reward is me ‘going away’ so that makes a very slow job. I don’t think we are clicker training yet but progress is happening. He is finally wearing a headcollar and today we did approach retreat with leadrope, clip etc. Unfortunately he has to be micro chipped tomorrow which may set us back, a real shame. I plan to go back to the lasso around the base of his neck as he quickly learnt about pressure using that. Looking forward to seeing more videos. I would like to see you working with unhandled foals too, they are very interesting, though I must say the last one and my unhandled yearling were no trouble at all, not like this one!

    • Francesca says:

      Just discovered you tguhroh Mary at Stale Cheerios. I’m a relative beginner at clicker, but intend to do more thanks for having all this information and good advice out there!

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