You spend more time with your fave pony on the ground, so it’s really important that he’s polite to lead and easy to handle. If you’re having problems, the first thing to do is make sure you’re leading him correctly…
- Lead him from the left-hand side and walk by his shoulder
- Use clear vocal commands, such as ‘walk on’ or ‘whoa’, to let him know what you want him to do
- Don’t get ahead of your pony and try to pull him along, or fall behind so he’s pulling you
- Have a little bit of slack in the leadrope, to help keep your pony relaxed
To help make your pony more obedient when you’re leading him, here are some easy exercises you can try.
Exercise 1: Halting and walking on
Establish the basics by practising moving forward and halting. Here’s how…
- Stand by your pony’s shoulder and ask him to ‘walk on’, then take a step forward. If he goes forward with you praise him, but if not ask again. If you find he’s really reluctant to move, change the question by asking him to turn away from you, which should encourage him to move. After a few steps, halt and then try again.
- Lead him forward a few steps, then ask him to halt by slowing your own pace and saying ‘whoa’. Follow this straightaway with a little pressure on the leadrope. If he takes a few strides before he stops don’t worry, as this will improve with practice.
- Practise moving forward, then halting, then walking on again. If you do this regularly you should soon find that your pony reacts as soon as you give him a voice command.
Exercise 2: Standing
If your pony will stand perfectly still when you want him to, it’ll make life so much easier, whether you’re handling him on the ground or riding him. Here’s how…
- Ask your pony to halt, then stand just to the side of his head with a little slack in your leadrope. If he moves, even just one step, walk him forward then ask him to halt again. Keep repeating this until he understands what you want him to do.
- When he’s remained still for 10 seconds, give him a pat or scratch to reward him, then ask him to walk on again.
- Lead him around the arena, then ask him to halt again. As before, aim for 10 seconds and correct him straightaway if he moves.
- Repeat the exercise, gradually building up the amount of time he halts for, until he’ll stand patiently for 3-5mins.
Exercise 3: Staying in control
Improve your control and your pony’s manoeuvrability by leading him through a maze of poles. Here’s how…
- Create a corridor of poles that includes a few turns – such as a U-shape or S-bend.
- Lead your pony through the corridor, carefully negotiating each turn. The aim is to stay in control and not let your pony step outside the poles.
- Repeat in the opposite direction.