Teaching the horse to send between, through, onto, and over things allows you to maneuver him wherever you like. It is also the foundation for trailer loading, and prepares him for obstacles that he will encounter under saddle.
Sending Between You and the Fence
- Stand parallel to a fence, facing it, about ten feet away.
- Ask the horse to go between you and the fence to the left.
- Have your lead rope in your left hand. Point to the left.
- Step toward his right shoulder.
- Swing the end of your lead rope in your right hand toward his right shoulder.
- Gradually step closer until you can smack him on the neck/shoulder.
- Keep increasing the pressure until he takes a step forward and to the left.
- When he steps away, put your left arm down, keep your feet still, and stop swinging the rope.
- Let him walk between you and the fence.
- When his hindquarters pass your left shoulder yield them away from you by sliding your left hand down the rope as you focus on his hindquarters, bend at the waist, and take a step toward your left hand.
- Swing the end of your rope in your right hand toward his hindquarters to encourage him to yield.
- Step closer, moving your rope closer to the horse until it taps him.
- Keep tapping him until he crosses his hind legs and faces you.
- Stand up straight and let him rest for a minute while he faces you before sending him the other direction.
- Reverse the directions to send the horse to the right.
Repeat the exercise until he calmly walks between you and the fence. Take a step toward the fence making the space between you and the fence smaller. Then ask him to go between the smaller gap. Work your way up to sending the horse through a three or four foot gap. Practice sending the horse between other objects, using the same cues. Anytime the horse spooks at something send him between you and it using this exercise until he realizes that it’s nothing to be afraid of. Allow him to sniff the object then continue on with whatever you were doing.
- Keep applying pressure toward the horse’s shoulder until he steps forward and to the side. Even if he backs up across the arena far from where you originally started follow him and keep asking until you get what you want.
Pins His Ears-
- Make sure that you aren’t nagging the horse. If you ask him to do something then keep asking after he has done it, he never gets a release of pressure.
- If you allow the horse to do what you want only some of the time he will become frustrated when you ask him to do something because he is used to doing it. Horses love consistency. It isn’t fair to the horse to let him get away with stuff most of the time then punish him occasionally. They are just like children; you don’t only occasionally correct your child for talking back to you. You correct him every time he does until he learns that it’s not acceptable. The same is true for horses.
Moves Toward You When Yielding His Hind End-
- Back him out of your space by moving your arm up and down creating a wave in the rope which will bump the horse under the jaw. Release when he has backed a few steps away. You can also send him off between you and the fence again. Both of these corrections will have the horse move out of your space. You will have to pay attention as some horses will move forward while disengaging and you may not notice that he has gotten closer.
Runs Over You-
- Some horses will push into you as they go through the gap, especially if he is passing by something that he is afraid of. Try to keep your feet still and use the end of your rope or the stick to smack him on the belly and have him move over each time he does this.
- Also, make sure that you leave plenty of room for your horse to move between the thing he is afraid of and you. If you get him too close to what is scaring him it can cause him to run you over in panic.
Doesn’t Face You-
- The horse may continue around on a circle instead of yielding his hindquarters. If he tries to do this bump his nose toward you to stop his forward motion then step toward his hind end while swinging your rope to get him to yield. Let him rest and desensitize him while he faces you. Teach the horse to want to face you by letting him rest when he does.