Logo The Horse Information Resource
©Photos Jerry Tardif Photography
Barn (Home)
Ask the "Horse Girl"
Ask the "Horse Guy"
Favorite Articles
Healthy Barns – Book Review
Your Horse's Center of Gravity
How Long to Keep a Horse
Reducing Condensation in Your Horse Trailer
Electricity Costs for Heated Water Buckets
Buy the Trailer or Truck First?
Article Index
Care & Health
Equine Legal
Horse Photos
Human Interest
Tack & Riding

Step 11: Passing Other Horses

(& Being Passed)

Back to Step 10: Steering the Shoulder    Next to Step 12: Sidepassing

Editor's note: This article is part of a multi-lesson training series.

Does your horse get upset when you follow on the trail and the horse in front of you gets out of sight or too far ahead? Is he fidgety when passed by another horse in the ring or on the trail? Does he want to play "copycat" when a horse he's with starts to trot or wants to stop so he does too? All of these issues indicate that your horse believes he's in control of your ride — NOT YOU. You need to convince him otherwise in order to stay safe when riding. It should NEVER matter what other horses are doing around your horse when you're on him or even holding him. He should turn to you for guidance or permission to copy what other horses around him are doing.

For example, if the horse ahead of you begins to trot, your horse shouldn't do so until you cue him to trot — no matter what. If your horse trots off, then he's playing a game of "follow the leader" and you've just learned that leader isn't you. What if that same horse in front of him starts cantering and his rider falls off? Then he starts galloping home? Is your horse going to copycat that too? He sure is! You'll be on your way home at full speed whether you like it or not. Is this the same as your horse bolting out of control? Absolutely NOT! Your horse is not a bolter, he's just playing "follow the leader" and you never told him who the leader was, so he chose one.

If you're to be his leader, then you need his respect first. You get respect by moving a horse's feet where you want them to go instead of where they want them to go. Always practice in a safe, enclosed area. If you know your horse gets anxious about his buddy leaving him behind or being passed at a trot, then you want to maintain control in a safe environment. These exercises are going to set your horse up to get anxious, but in small doses that both you and he can handle.

Anxiety is stressful to a horse. Fortunately, adrenaline provides a natural "feel good" sensation for him that relieves stress. Any increase in speed for the horse increases his adrenaline. So when your horse gets "jiggy" and anxious, don't try to calm him, soothe him, and make him stand still. Instead, let him go, but CONTROL IT. Send his feet forward quickly in small circles until it becomes hard work. Focus his energy into the circle until he starts to want to slow on his own. Usually, you can do this at a trot, but for more anxious horses, you may need to just let him canter. As soon as he slows, let him out of the circle to move forward at a slower pace. If he picks up the speed again, send it into a circle again.

Circles should be about 5-10 meters (15 - 30 feet) or smaller depending on the size of your horse, the gait, and how flexible and strong he is. You don't want to have too large of a circle so he feels no work involved, or too small a circle where he breaks stride because he can't hold the gait that tight. You want him to continue at that gait until he has calmed himself down.

Another reason to work in a ring is because you often can't circle on a trail with obstacles (like trees) in the way. Have a riding buddy on a safe, calm, and controlled horse join you in the ring and practice trotting by you while you walk. Start with her about half the arena away. Observe and judge how your horse responds. If the other horse is far enough away, your horse might not be affected by her. Have your buddy trot closer and closer to you until you get a small response from your horse getting excited or wanting to trot too. As soon as he does, start the circles. When your horse calms, have your buddy try again at exactly the same distance as set him off last time. Repeat as needed until your friend can trot pass and your horse doesn't seem to care. Then, try closer again until she can safely trot past right near you without your horse even flinching.

At this point, you have enough success to try it on the trail, but be ready to do circles if he acts up again. Changing you horse's environment from enclosed to out on the trails will also raise his excitement level. Make sure it seems very solid at home in your safer environment first before trying it elsewhere. The same process also works at being passed while standing still or having your buddy in front of you suddenly break into a canter — your horse should keep on walking.

Finally, consider this benefit. If you train your horse as described in this article and the horse ahead of you spooks and bolts, your horse will be less likely to copy him. He may get agitated by the energy of the frightened horse, but without your permission, he won't follow him as he runs away. Won't that be a much better situation?

Back to Step 10: Steering the Shoulder    Next to Step 12: Sidepassing

Jennifer Goddard has been training horses of various breeds for over 20 years using her natural horsemanship methods. She has also ridden and shown in multiple disciplines and is owner of Levaland Farm, a 30 stall horse farm in Massachusetts. Jennifer has a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies from Babson College, and is also President of Equine Business Solutions, a business specializing in the starting and running of equine businesses.

Back to Article Index

Sponsored Links

Equine Affaire
The Nation's Premiere Equine
Exposition & Gathering

Kathleen A. Reagan, Esq.
Equine Attorney
Horse Counsel for Horse Owners

Barn (Home)     Become a Sponsor/Advertising     Contact Us
About Us     Testimonials     Privacy     Terms of Service     Web page comments?
Copyright©   August 2022 – QueryHorse – All rights reserved.