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Trainer Q&A - Ground Work (with/without Round Pen) - How do I lead my horse to the pasture without allowing him to eat on the way?

How do I lead my horse to the pasture without allowing him to eat on the way?

Dundeesmom Asks:

I have a rescued horse that was starved not once but twice. Now he is in my loving home and I have begun to try to lead him into the pasture. He will do great until he decides he wants a bite of grass. How do I pull his head back appropriately to discipline him as to follow my lead?

I realize with his situation that seeing all that grass to eat is so tempting, but I want to be the leader. I want to discipline correctly without being harsh.

Our Trainer Answers:

Although it is unfortunate that this horse was starved, and equally as wonderful that you rescued him, he should not be allowed to pull on you for the sake of eating. You are correct in knowing that in this instance he does not see you in the leadership role. I am guessing that you are leading him in a flat, nylon halter that makes it easier for him to pull his head down, so I suggest that you get a stud chain lead. A stud chain is a lead rope with an 18 to 20 inch 5/8 chain on the snap end, it is never to be used for tying, only for leading as it helps the horse to understand by giving him a firmer signal. Since your horse is pulling his head down I want you to run the snap end of the chain through the lower left ring, under his chin, through the right lower ring, up to the upper right ring and snap it with the open end of the snap to the outside of his face.

Now we are ready to take him to the pasture. You could take some treats with you if he is not a biter, and this too will help him to understand that he should be paying more attention to you than the grass. The moment that your horse goes for the grass, give the leadrope a firm tug upwards and proceed walking. He should understand to keep moving his feet and the stud chain will give you the leverage you need to be in control. When you get to the pasture gate, give him a treat and further reward him by turning him out to the grass he loves so much!

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington