Consistency Counts

…it’s often the way that a horse is being handled that is leading to the problems.

Typically, in groundwork sessions I see a lot of inconsistency in boundaries or no boundaries at all. Sometimes the person stands too close to the horse, constantly in the horse’s personal space, and…

Do You Have a Codependent Relationship with Your Horse?

…doing with the reins, heels down, eyes up, hands in front of the saddle…. Gradually, the horse starts pushing boundaries, to see what it can get away with, until the rider notices.

Once the rider becomes more aware of the horse, its actions and its motivations, the game is…

Proactive Riding—Take the Driver’s Seat

…often horses outsmart people.

Horses are quite clever when it comes to probing boundaries, manipulating others, and getting what they want. Beyond everything else, horses seek out safety and comfort—these are their greatest motivators, and usually at the root of their behavior. They are masters of subtlety, gently testing…

How Horses Learn to “Read” Humans

…can check all these boxes, it will lead to a high level of trust. He’s also probing to find your boundaries and determine how much he stands to profit off any potential deal. This is not the time to appear to be gaga over the horse or indicate that you…

Using the Boundary Stick

Julie talks about the importance of having clear boundaries with horses, and the purpose of her boundary stick.

The World Awaits!

…Hopefully you established good rules of behavior and proper boundaries at home. Gently remind the horse that those rules and boundaries exist no matter where you are. This kind of structure can bring a sense of order to a chaotic world. Be the leader your horse needs.

The bottom

Secret Powers are Within You!

…when you want the horse to come to you, or staring it directly in the eyes if you want to drive the horse forward or establish boundaries.

Sitting atop the horse, with a great deal of connectivity through your seat, legs, and hands, using your eyes deliberately when you…

Foal meeting the farrier

How to Get a 5-Star Rating From Your Farrier

…horses. Basic ground manners for the horse include:

Controlling the feet Standing still when asked Respecting boundaries, and Keeping its nose in front of its chest while being handled

I’ve written, talked, videoed, demonstrated, cajoled, and pleaded a lot on this subject, and there is plenty of information for…

Julie working with a horse on a leadline

Plugging the Holes in Your Horse’s Training

…underlying issues are resolved⁠. These issues commonly include:

Neglecting to set clear boundaries with the horse Sending confusing or conflicting signals (like cueing the horse to move forward, then pulling on the reins) Inconsistent reinforcement of cues Unknowingly reinforcing disobedience from the horse Punishing the horse when the rider…

Horse rearing on the lunge line

“Rearing” to Go!

…if the reason seems obvious, a physical cause should always be considered first—it’s common for rearing to present as disobedience. But sometimes horses can learn clever tactics to manipulate riders into doing what they want (or don’t want to do), pushing boundaries on riders that lack confidence. Again, a trainer…

How Much Does a Young Horse Really Know?

…gets a weanling so that they can “learn together.” This rarely goes smoothly, and often results in a young horse that has learned behaviors that will negatively impact its training later on. These include, but are certainly not limited to, moving into pressure, biting, lack of boundaries, and improper manners… Logo

Relationship Fix Series

Boundaries have to be established before you choose to be “touchy feely” with your horse. If you don’t set boundaries, horses can push you around and run you over. Horses can also manipulate and “train” the people around them. They may train you to give them attention if they paw…

A Devoted Horse

…because it makes them feel safe. Having been around horses well over half a century, literally working with thousands of individuals over the years, I’ve learned to first have expectations and boundaries, and then convey them to any horse I encounter—immediately. The first part of the equation is critical—knowing what… Logo

Off To A Good Start

…simply testing his boundaries. Just as with human toddlers that may test out biting, this behavior should be “nipped in the bud,” as early as possible in the progression.


It has been my experience that people bring these behaviors on themselves by allowing horses to be in… Logo

Ground-Work Exercises

…— your horse won’t have a clear idea about your personal boundaries.

While you sometimes want to love on your horse, start with a clear boundary. Only allow that closeness after you have set up a clear expectation of his space and yours.

Step 2. Practice your body Logo

My Horse Drags Me, Circles Me And Bumps Into Me When Leading

…on his own. Children need direction and a chance to learn. In the same way, your horse needs you to set boundaries, enforce rules and to act like the herd leader. A horse desperately wants to be accepted into the herd—he needs the herd for his survival. In a natural… Logo

Home From The Oregon Horse Master Shoot

…happened as I round-penned the horse and made the necessary changes in her handling of Lux. My assistant trainer, T Cody, did a little more ground work with Lux and watched carefully as Clare work him to make sure Lux maintained his subordinate demeanor and respected his boundaries.

The… Logo

Issues From The Ground: Colt Kicks And Rears While Leading

…manners, learn the basic rules of behavior and learn to respect his boundaries. These rules and boundaries are explained and demonstrated in detail in my groundwork videos, Round Pen Reasoning and Lead Line Leadership. You can order them online at or by calling (800) 225-8827 during business hours.

Back to Basics (Part 1)

…slinging his head and shoulders toward me. Generally, within a few minutes, the horse I am handling becomes very clear on my boundaries. You must define your space (for me, it’s as far as I can reach around me, with my arms outstretched), and make it clear to your horse…

Fresh Start

Ground School. For groundwork, I use a premium rope halter, with a 15-foot training lead; I may also employ a flag or boundary stick. I start with leading the horse around at walk and trot, doing turns and stops, to check its manners, its awareness of boundaries and its…

April 2020 Horse Report

…brave and opinionated, and he hasn’t had much work in this department, so he’s been an excellent demo horse! We’ve done some entertaining ground lessons with Woodrow on establishing boundaries, standing still, leading manners, ground tying, rating speed on the lead line… and there’s much more to come! He’s even… Logo

Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Success

…his new home”). She decided to overlook his momentary indiscretion. But the next day, he did the exact same thing (of course), since apparently the rules in this strange new place were different than what he had known all of his life. Soon, he was pushing all sorts of boundaries Logo

Winter Workouts – Ride Right With Julie Goodnight

…a clear idea about your personal boundaries. While you sometimes want to love on your horse, start with a clear boundary and only allow that closeness after you have set up a clear expectation of his space and yours.

Practice your body postures. Away from your horse and in… Logo

Jealous Colt

…Ann, Well, the good news is that at some point, your horse will grow up and these juvenile behaviors will diminish. Young horses (like young humans) are very mouthy and will push their boundaries until they find the limit.

You must persist in corrections and moving him out of… Logo

Teaching Babies Not To Bite

…the horse goes through this progressive behavior, he is simply testing his boundaries to see if he can gain dominance over you. It has been my experience that horse owners escalate the behaviors by allowing their horses to enter their personal space. By nuzzling, smooching and playing with the horse’s… Logo

Starting Over With A Fractious Horse


The next day Lux was still a changed horse– respecting Clare’s authority, keeping his focus on her at all times and keeping his head down and relaxed. With a great sense of accomplishment, we wrapped-up Clare’s episode and as I was leaving the round pen to go change… Logo

Teach Your Horse To Lower His Head

…bring its face to vertical. The outcome: Spending some time to season your horse and give her the experience she needs to be comfortable in the show ring is a good place to start. Setting some boundaries and guidelines for her behavior and making it clear to her what she… Logo

The Great Escape

…good sport on the show. All she really needed to do was step up to the plate and take control of this horse—set some rules and boundaries, punish him when he is wrong, praise him when he is good and give him consistent leadership.

In Erika’s case, she had… Logo

Good Horse Gone Bad

By observing the handler, it is usually pretty obvious what the problem is– under-correction, over-correction, lack of awareness of spatial issues, tolerating and condoning poor behavior, not setting rules or boundaries, poor timing and just a general lack of leadership skills. Often conflicting signals and miscommunication are involved, so Logo

Raise Your Foal Right

…of him later in life.

His first learning experiences impress him the most, so make sure you get it right. If a foal learns the wrong things as a youngster, it will be reflected in his behavior and performance throughout his life.

Learning boundaries, good manners, self-control, patience,… Logo

Issues From The Ground: Pins Ears And Bites While Leading

…gelding is old enough to know better, since he has not had much training or handling, he is still exploring his boundaries. In many ways, older horses are a little harder to teach because they haven’t had any rules to follow up until now and are not as impressionable as… Logo

Issues From The Ground: 2 Y/O Gelding Acting Aggressively

…young colt (practice fighting on the other colts, practice repro on the fillies), albeit misplaced. The fact that it is spring, mares are cycling, after their cycles have been fairly dormant for the winter, can definitely exacerbate these issues in a youngster that does not know his boundaries yet. Yes,… Logo

Building A Better Relationship: My New Horse Is Challenging Me

…go straight from asking once nicely, then command with authority. If he knows you’ll “count to three” before you get tough with him, he’ll always push his boundaries.

You’ll probably need the help of a more experienced rider to work your horse through the riding issues, in case it… Logo

Horse Behavior: Quiz: Is Natural Horsemanship Right For Your Horse?

…showing him his boundaries, your horse will learn and accept many important ground manners and will learn to follow your every action and movement. You’ll learn to control the horse’s entire body: his feet, his nose, his shoulder, and his hip. In the third article in this series, I’ll explain… Logo

Horse Behavior: Nipping Colt

…he is simply testing his boundaries to see if he can gain dominance over you. It sounds like your colt is still in the nipping stage and you need to “nip it in the bud” so to speak.

It has been my experience that people bring these behaviors on… Logo

Establishing Dominance

…interested in improving your leadership to the horse, with the added bonus of teaching your horse good ground manners, to respect you and want to please you, you must learn to set boundaries and enforce good behavior. There are articles on my website about doing this kind of ground work… Logo

No Biting Allowed

…bite. As the horse goes through this progressive behavior, he is simply testing his boundaries to see if he can gain dominance over you. It sounds like your colt is still in the nipping stage and you need to “nip it in the bud,” so to speak. It has been… Logo

Issues from the Ground: Lead line leadership

…between the horse’s nose and shoulder. We want the horse to stay in that position, matching you step for step, without you pulling him forward or holding him back. Again, we need to set the rule and boundaries for the horse and correct him any time he is not in…

Begging for Acceptance

…your face and asks you to marry him! As you run from the restaurant screaming, you’re thinking, “This guy’s probably a stalker and I’m going to be needing a restraining order soon.”

Anyone who’s that self-absorbed and disrespectful of personal boundaries, oblivious to body language clues and that desperate…

Barn Rules, Cleanliness & Respect At Feeding Time

…like they are caught or restrained and trying to escape—they want to hang out with us. This kind of willingness does not come for free—you have to earn it by being a confident leader, setting boundaries and trusting your horse.

I expect my horses to stand quietly and patiently…