Tip #2: Ground work for respect. The importance of ground work cannot be overstated. It establishes respect and basic control, making your horse safer to lead and handle. I teach my horses to lead by moving with me, without me putting pressure on the lead rope. Think about it, if you are always pulling back on the lead rope when leading your horse, you horse learns to pull back against the constant pressure. Then you have a situation where is hard to tell who is leading whom. By teaching a horse to lead by moving with you instead of ahead of you, they will (usually) respect your space even when nervous or frightened.
Tip #3: Never pull with constant pressure. Think about how you lead or ride your horse. Do you have constant pressure on the lead rope or reins? If the answer is yes, I’m willing to bet that your horse pulls back against that pressure. Remember the old saying…it takes two to pull. Instead of constant pressure, work the lead rope or reins with an intermittent pressure so that the horse has nothing on which to brace.
Tip #4: Control the movement. When a horse is nervous or fractious, letting them move their feet helps them deal with their nervousness. But they need to move in a way that you are controlling their feet. For example, in my clinics when I have a rider whose horse is nervous and won’t stand still, I tell them to make the horse give their face and walk a small tight circle. When the horse wants to stop, you reward them by releasing all pressure and patting them. If they move without being asked, repeat until they want to stop. This is a little reverse psychology. The horse won’t stand so you make them move by controlling how they move. Next thing you know, the horse says this is too much work and wants to stop. I use a similar technique for a horse that won’t slow down. I push them into the bridle into collected frame, making them work harder than they want to work. Eventually they decide they want to slow down. The idea of slowing down becomes the horse’s idea.