LETTING A HORSE DRAG A LEAD ROPE

QUESTION: My father worked with horses all his life. He said the best way to halter break a weanling or yearling or any unbroken horse is to put a stout halter on it and a lariat and just let the horse drag the rope. After a few days, he would pick up the end of the rope and the horse was already 1/2 trained to lead and tie. What do you think about this practice?

ANSWER: I do not like letting a young, frightened horse drag a lead rope because stepping on the rope sores up their faces to much. So what was happening with your father is that once he eventually picked up on the lead rope, the horse was so used to jerking it's own face that indeed it was partially broke to GIVE IT"S HEAD when pressure was put on the rope. And it's face, especially the nose and behind the ears would have been terribly sore. It had trained itself basically to give to pressure but pain was involved which is not fair or the right way to train a horse. Pain is not what a person should allow when training any animal.

At the same time I will say for the record (I do not like saying it in case a person doing it does not follow SAFETY and HUMANE CARE tips as written) but doing so a couple of afternoons AFTER THE HORSE IS WELL TRAINED TO LEAD AND TIE and under close supervision (rope should be far longer than a normal lead shank and made of soft, thick cotton), a horse does learn to not be frightened of a dragging rope touching it's legs, etc. The halter should have a Wide, Padded Nose Band and also Padded on the neck piece, behind the ears (I use soft sheepskin on the nose band and behind the ears) to protect the face and head when the horse steps on the rope. The corral must be Small (preferably round, no corners) and good, high wooden, strong fencing. Absolutely no wire of any kind or poor fencing that the horse may crash into or through!!!

Why would I do this if I don't like it???

You would not believe how many older horses, well trained, calm as can be..............one day they get themselves untied or pull away or something from the owner..............that quiet old horse has never had his lead rope brush against his legs, etc. That calm horse becomes scared to death, running scared out of his wits, even smashing through or over fences in his panic. People in his way can be run down and injured. You see, he is well trained, a loving soul but no one thought to get him accustomed to a rope dragging around his legs, etc. I have seen it happen once too often at rodeo grounds, at horse sales, at group gatherings. The people are always in shock that their horse did that? But then that horse never had a lead rope dragging off his head before either!!!

Better than letting a long lead rope drag off the halter, a person should touch the horse all over his legs and body with a rope as part of the horses early training. Wrapping the rope around the legs and his barrel (over his back and underneath where the cinch will someday be) while holding both ends of it. You need a minimum 20+ feet for this. The horse should be tied securely and safely at this time. Talking softly, moving slowly as to not further frighten the horse, get him used to the rope. They may panic at first but once they realize they are not being hurt, they soon ignore it.

You have the rope around the horses leg or his barrel. You gently get the horse used to this thing touching him. He kicks, he perhaps panics a bit. You can slack off pressure or even if necessary (preferably not though) let go of the rope. There are no loops in the rope tied around the horse's body, understand. You do not have it tied onto the horse. Both ends are held in your hands.

This was a hard question to answer. A horse must be taught to accept a dragging lead rope and it must be taught to not panic when ropes touch any part of its body. But be Fair, Kind and Decent about causing no pain.

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