Installing a Horse’s Emergency Brake
Suppose you’re riding a horse, and he suddenly takes off. The harder you tug on the reins, the slower he goes. He puts up a fight, sending you careening past the fence posts while you fear and hope he doesn’t shift his weight and send you flying off his back.
Being on a horse that runs of its own will and can’t be stopped is terrifying. Many people get so worried about anything similar happening again that they decide to sell their horses. How can you prevent a horse from running away in the situation?
Even if your horse sees something that frightens him and causes him to want to run away in fear, you can train him not to react that way. I refer to it as “Putting in a stop-gap.”
This is accomplished while engaging in ground exercises on the floor. Spend a few minutes on this every time you work with your horse, even if you’re confident he already “gets it.” It’s impossible to put up enough effort.
What does the emergency brake on a horse look like? You can grab either rein as you ride. You seize the rein and pull it snugly up your thighs, inside your jeans, and over your hips. While doing this, you have one hand on the other harness only loosely. Your horse’s nose will be redirected toward his tail as you accomplish this.
What’s the deal here? Have you ever attempted to move forward while gazing behind you? What else can I say? It’s not always the case. A select few horses are so supple that they can gallop forward with their noses tucked into their sides.
But if your horse bolts, you can’t just hop on and try to turn his head. You need to lay the foundation first. This is the next step.
Mount your steed with a halter and attach the lead rope to it. Place your left foot forward as the horse moves. Position yourself opposite the hind leg of your horse. Place your right arm across his posterior. Then, place your left hand on his back and pull the lead rope toward you.
You can expect some pushback from your horse now. Keep his head from moving forward by tightening the lead rope. Sooner or later, he’ll turn his head to look at you again and submit to your influence over the lead rope. Once his head is turned in your direction again, you can let up on the lead rope and lavish him with praise. To rephrase, let go when you notice slack in the lead line because his nose is drawn back toward you.
You’re shooting for him to rub his nose on his body eventually. You want his head to come around as much as possible since that will give you the most power over him. There’s another target in sight, too. It would be best to have the horse’s head facing away from the direction you pull on the lead rope. His neck twists back as a favor to you. His head automatically moves around when you pull on the lead rope. In this case, his brain decides to tag along. Being receptive to others’ needs is the term for this. You don’t want to have a tug of war while riding a bolting horse and turning his head. Therefore, this is crucial information. You expect him to comply without prompting.
You’ll first notice that your horse can’t touch his nose to his body. This means beginning with manageable goals. At first, he may oppose your attempts to pull his head back toward you. Do so while maintaining a taut lead rope. Hold the tension steady without increasing or decreasing it. As soon as he turns his gaze back to you, the slack in the lead line lets you release the pressure completely. The next step is to praise him for his positive behavior. Also, pet him. Tell him that’s exactly what you had in mind.
Doing so will encourage him to tilt his head back until he touches his nose to his torso. Just wait for a few ground sessions before asking him to touch his nose to his torso. You can’t expect success if you try to make that happen so quickly. It will take some time for your horse to learn your commands.
Remember to do this on the opposite side of your horse. Your horse should be able to perform the same maneuvers on his right side as on his left.
Once your horse’s nose touches his side, you can mount up and give his emergency brake a go. Take your horse for a spin and see how it performs. You can stop him from running by grabbing a rein and turning his head. The reins should be pulled, not jerked. Then, he should be stomped into a ring. Let up on the reins when he slows down or stops in the way you want. Both the left and right reins must be used.
Your horse needs more practice if you can’t touch his nose to his body while you’re riding him. Make sure the bit fits properly by having him touch his nose several times on each side before you ride. If you follow these steps, you can guarantee yourself a relaxing ride.
Andy Curry is a famous horse trainer nationwide and the author of several books on the subject. Visit his website at http://www.horsetrainingandtips.com/ for further details. Additionally, he is the go-to guy for information on Jesse Beery’s horse training techniques (found at www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beerya.htm).