People often think if you can’t stop a horse then he’s ‘hard in the mouth’.
So they use a more severe bit and force their horse to run backwards or make him back up time after time.
Many people think this will make a horse ‘soft’ and make him easier to stop.
This approach is totally wrong and totally misses the point.
The problem isn’t that the horse won’t stop.
The problem is that the horse isn’t relaxed and he doesn’t understand how to move forward correctly.
He doesn’t know how to go.
A horse that’s confident and relaxed and moving forward correctly is always easy to stop.
In fact, such a horse will always look to slow down and stop and must be ridden forward every step of the way.
A horse that’s nervous and worried always feels like he wants to go.
Such a horse pulls against the rein and feels hard in your hand.
Sure, you can use a severe bit, a tie-down or some other gadget and the horse may stop more easily.
However, the only reason he stops now is because he’s worried about being pulled on the mouth or nose by a severe contraption.
Severe bits, tie-downs or other gadgets will never teach your horse to relax.
In fact, he’ll be even more nervous and worried if you use them.
In order to teach a horse to stop, he must first be taught to relax and to move forward correctly.
To do this, the horse must be tapped with a stick or touched lightly with a blunt spur at the appropriate time to drive him forward.
When a horse is nervous and worried and doesn’t understand to move forward, he’ll resist by swishing his tail, raising his head and pulling against the rider’s hand.
Some horses will kick up, some will try to stop and rear.
If the rider stops tapping or touching with the spur when the horse resists, the horse will learn to relieve pressure by using these unwanted behaviours.
This isn’t easy and it’s best not to attempt this training if you’re a novice or inexperienced rider.
The rider must relieve the pressure only when the horse moves forward and gives.
Immediately the horse takes even one step forward in the correct manner, the rider must relieve the pressure. He must stop using the stick or spur immediately.
If the rider is consistent, the horse will learn to relieve pressure by moving forward correctly.
It takes skill and experience to be able to drive a horse through this resistance and relieve the pressure at the appropriate time.
This doesn’t mean that any horse is punished.
This is a very important skill to master, that’s why it’s demonstrated with different horses in my Fear-free Fundamentals Online Clinic.
There’s no need to increase the level of unpleasantness when a horse doesn’t behave as you wish.
It just has to be slightly unpleasant for the horse when he resists.
Equally, it must be immediately easy and pleasant for the horse when he does as you ask.
You must remember a horse that resists in this manner isn’t spoilt, naughty, bad or disrespectful.
He’s just relieving pressure the only way he knows. He’s simply doing what he’s learned.
Every horse must be taught to relax and move forward correctly.
When you achieve this, stopping will be easy.
Remember, a horse that’s relaxed and confident always looks for the easy way.
Stopping and standing for a while is always easier than carrying you around.