You spend more time with your fave pony on the ground than riding him, so it’s really important that he’s always polite and obedient to handle. Here’s how you can teach him to walk calmly and quietly by your side.
Get it right
Make sure you always lead your pony in the correct way…
Do lead him from the left side and stay by his shoulder.
Do use clear vocal commands, such as “walk on” or “whoa”.
Don’t get ahead of your pony or try to pull him along.
Don’t fall behind and let his body get ahead of you.
Don’t hold the leadrope too tightly – having a little bit of slack in it will help keep your pony relaxed.
Leading exercise – On the move
Walking forward and halting are basic skills and it’s important your pony does them obediently.
- Stand by your pony’s shoulder and ask him to “walk on”, then step forward. If he goes with you that’s great, so praise him with your voice. If he doesn’t, ask again. If you find he’s reluctant to move at all, change the question by turning him away from you, which should encourage him to move. After a few steps, halt and then try again.
- When your pony’s walking forward, lead him around the arena and choose a place to halt. You could set out a cone to use as a marker or pick an arena letter to stop next to.
- As you approach the marker, slow your own pace and say “whoa”. Follow this straightaway with a little pressure on the leadrope, and stand still. If your pony halts, reward him with a pat or a scratch, but if he continues walking, repeat the vocal command and apply a little more pressure on the rope.
- After a few seconds in halt, ask him to walk on again. Don’t forget to give the vocal command first, then walk forward with purpose.
- Repeat the exercise, choosing different places in the arena to halt.
If you practise this exercise regularly, you’ll soon find that your pony reacts as soon as you give him a voice command.
For more top tips and exercises you can try at home, pick up a copy of March PONY, on sale 16 January.