“Leading shouldn’t be this difficult,” one of my clients remarked during a lesson the other day.
We were working on leading for emotional and mechanical welfare with her young 4 yr old mare who tends to be a bit disconnected from her handler at times. The mare isn’t really naughty and leads well by industry standards but when we began to break down the components of maintaining a connection by staying present and soft during leading, the mare really struggled.
So what did we ask the mare to do that made leading so difficult?
We asked her to rate with us, walk with her head level and relaxed, respond quickly and softly when redirected to keep her attention with us, to not run into us, to respond to cues from us with softness and connection and to maintain emotional control….all while being on a loose lead rope and not have to be pulled on.
Have you ever thought how many components there are to proper leading?
If we break it down, there are a lot of them and it is just as complex as riding.
Teaching your horse to lead with connection and true softness where you can go together instead of one leading the other takes time and consistency. But during the process, leading your horse with this level of awareness and precision makes the handler become more present which allows for your horse to feel more in sync with you and safe.
It creates a deeper partnership with more awareness of each other which in turn allows for use of less pressure and greater understanding.