Securing Your Horse
Another important idea for training your horse when planning an overnight trip with your horse on the trail is staking him or her with a picket line. This experience is essential for all horses because there won’t always be a corral or an area where your horses can be high-lined.
As always, start the training process in a round pen.
Training in a confined area lessens your odds of having a serious wreck. I like to use the single leg hobble attached to the picket line.
Start by teaching your horse to lead by looping a soft rope around its lower leg. Apply pressure until he yields to your pulling pressure. Continue until you can lead your horse by pulling on his leg.
As the horse becomes accustomed to this, increase the length of the lead rope and then practice applying pressure at a distance. Soon, they will give in to the pressure and go to grazing. This is also a good method for teaching your them to hobble.
Once he or she is accustomed to one foot being immobile, add the other by placing a loop around the second leg. When that is accepted, apply the hobble. Most horses will get a little concerned, but let them figure it out and stay out of the way.
Once they’re hobble trained, ground tie-ing is next.
Training your horse to “ground tie” is a great practice for horses in any situation. You can do this by taking the lead rope, running it through a ring in the ground (refer to the picket pin mentioned later in this article) and tie it through a hobble on one front foot.
When the horse moves his head, he will feel his foot tugged, and when he moves his foot he will feel his halter tugged; as a result, he will learn that the best thing to do is not move at all in this situation.
When you’re packing a horse and you don’t want him to move, simply drop the lead rope and they will stand still while you work. He doesn’t need to be tied.
Using Horse Sense
It is important to prepare yourself and your horse by riding in challenging environments prior to your trip.
This not only prepares you and your mount physically, but it will also prepare you mentally. When you make these rides, allow your horse to be a thinker. Let them find the way out of a bad spot; if he needs some help, you can always take control of the situation.
Don’t overreact to tense situations. If you do, you can be certain your horse will do the same. You are the leader and if the leader is tense, the follower (your horse) will be tense as well!
It’s also a great idea to train your horses for mounting from either left or right. There is really no good reason why they have to be mounted from only one side.
When you’re in a tight spot and need to mount or dismount on the right, you’ll want your partner to be used it.
Look part 3 where I will talk about The Cowbell!
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