3 simple steps to make your horse‘s life easier

Today one of the all time favorite list posts: How to make your horse's life easier in 3 simple steps. 
Careful, dear readers, I was quite pissed when I wrote this, so please don't feel personally insulted. 

1. Put slack in that lead rope!
It makes me sick to see some people leading their horses in textbook manner 20 centimeters under the chin on a tight line. What is the use in pulling your horse on top of you? That is exactly what we do when leading the horse on a tight rope. Horses learn when they are released. Pressure going away means „I found the right solution“ to the horse. If we keep a tight grip on the rope all the time, the horse never gets rid of the pressure on his nose - even if he does the right thing, is standing still quietly and patiently. He will pretty soon start to wonder what the hell he is supposed to do. Maybe he‘ll start to root his head, pull on the rope or shove the human with his nose. But it‘s not the horse being disobedient. It is the human teaching the horse behaviors he‘d better not. 

2. Use the horse‘s right side!
It annoys me to hear people advice other people to lead a horse from the left side. Saddle from the left. Bridle from the left. Get on from the left. Why? We don‘t wear sabers anymore on our left side that could pinch the horse when dealt with from the right. We are not in the military anymore (at least not us recreationals riders) - so there is no reason to stick to the traditional left side. On the countrary, when mainly handled from on side, the horse - lo and behold - becomes one-sided. We complain about crookedness in the horse while we are diligently causing it.

3. Give him some peace!
Do you know these people who need to talk to their horse incessantly? Who not only give orders but ramble on all the time? How would you feel in the presence of someone who cannot for once be quiet? And now think of how often a human articulates verbally and how often a horse does (meaning whinnying). Horses are nonverbal, the major part of the communication is delivered via body language. How about us just shutting up sometime and listen instead of talking? Once experienced the peace of a horse and a human communicating without words, you‘ll want to get there again and again. 

To show you the dramatic effects a loose rope can have, I've included some pictures. Please read the captions of the following series with the "irony button" switched on. 

slack in the rope
Oh no, I've dropped the rope! There is even some slack in there! 
Hopefully he is not running away with me now!
slack in the rope
Oh Jesus! He's not only stepped on the rope but has is foot 
also on this yellow block? Hopefully we both will survive this!
slack in the rope
Oh no again! He's stepped on the rope again!
slack in the rope
Oh gosh, we are so lucky that nothing has happened. 
You know what he did? He just stepped away from the rope again!
Video: Marko, Photos: Nadja
PS: Of course, stepping on the rope can have dramatic consequences - but only for the horse that is not prepared. As you can hopefully see, the black one is quite cool with pressure. I am not suggesting you get yourself all tangled up and hope for the best. You need to work on becoming handy with longer ropes to keep yourself and your horse safe. 
Check the blog out again - I am preparing a post with tips on what to take care of when using longer ropes.


  1. Very good post! I am leading Hafl from both sides, but I have not yet tried to mount him from the right! He is never led that tight - he is used to have some space :) He sometimes makes use of that - but honestly, he is not mean or whatsoever!

  2. Thank you! Mounting from the right is a task, I can tell you :) I'm just trying to do more from the right and hope it helps him to become more balanced, mentally and physically.