Leading Through Gates
What kind of training can you get done when it looks like this? Can you get anything productive done? The answer is yes! Some of us are lucky enough to have an indoor arena to work in but even if you don't, simply working on ground manners will go a long way to keeping your horse's mind in the "right place".
At one time I might have considered a blog post about leading a horse through a gate to be trivial. That would be until I caught myself "wincing" as I've watched some people do it wrong. Yes, you can actually do something this simple in either a right way or "not so right" way. Just like putting on AND taking off a halter (for the "putting on" tutorial, click here.) Anyone that has led a horse that rushes through gates and doorways, has handled a horse that someone has "failed to lead" properly.
It's helpful if the horse knows how to lead properly in the first place. For this first little demo, I'm using Robby. After years (many!!!) of being "my horse" she knows I'm super picky about manners so she's not likely to mess this up.
An important point to make, is that paying attention goes both ways. I expect my horses to be attentive enough to read my body language, therefore, I have to be aware of what my body position is saying. Here you can see I have my eyes on Robby, my lead arm extended enough so that "she has her space and I have mine" and Robby has her left ear right towards me.
As I come through the gate, I maintain control of the gate (especially important if you're coming into an area with loose horses), while at the same time maintaining the placement of Robby's body as I especially make sure...
...that as her hips come through the gate, I don't turn her UNTIL her backside has cleared the gate. As you can see in the photo above, having my arm extended enables her to walk straight through.
Having cleared the gate, I can now ask her to turn towards me..
As we were going back through, Robby was a little sloppy and you can see me using my arm to "poke" her as a reminder to watch her space.
Once again, each of us having our own "lane" to walk in.
And being sure that her hips have clearned the gate before turning. Another "tip". I will always make them go through again, if they've rushed. And I will do it again. And again. And again. And I will keep repeating it until they do it right. Nope. I'm not kidding.
Ta da! Robby is definitely wondering what that was all about! Especially because Mike and I photographed the sequence twice and video'd it twice as well! It was FREEZING the morning we shot this, so the pictures are just from my cell phone instead of the "big boy" camera! We left that at home for now!
What next....why I had to "defend my position" when I wrote a tutorial on lunging!