Consistency Counts

…to be the one in charge. It’s not a good idea to let a one-thousand-pound scared rabbit call the shots. Horses seek out leadership because it makes them feel safe and protected. But there is never a void of leadership in a horse herd. If the leader falls down on…

My Favorite Books of the Year and Decade

…novel written from the first-person voice of a horse named Sonny, and how he deals with his novice rider. 

Personal Betterment 

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, by The Arbinger Institute. I first read this book to increase my business acumen but soon realized it also…

Cultivating a Connection with Horses

…transferring his feelings of attachment to me and begin to look to me for leadership.

Establishing Boundaries & Expectations

Horses know leadership when they see it and they seek it out. In the presence of a strong leader, horses feel safe, protected, and accepted. As soon…

Julie working with a horse on a leadline

Plugging the Holes in Your Horse’s Training

…in the coalmine” of more serious underlying problems.

Sometimes a horse’s poor attitude stems from a failure of leadership on the part of the human, or confusion from conflicting signals. If the attitude problem is addressed, but not the failure of leadership or communication, things may get worse.

Back to Basics (Part 1)

leadership and poor handling on the human side of the equation. Perhaps it has escalated into rude, disrespectful or even aggressive behavior from the horse, but it started with the actions of the human. Sometimes, a horse that is poorly behaved on the ground was never really taught proper behavior,…

Pepper watching pasture horses in the background

The Secret Ingredient: Managing the Herd-Bound Horse

…aside from the separation issue, you can retrieve the horse quickly. If you have not established good leadership with the horse in the best of times, how can you expect it in the worst of times? Normally, I expect my horses to stand still whenever I ask. I require them…

What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?

…know by watching his upper lip for puckering. It’s a kind and affectionate gesture and serves as a nice “thank you,” after riding. Article: 3 Leadership Activities Recognize effort: How hard horses attempt to comply with your wishes is way more important than the actual response. If you learn to…

February 2021 Horse Report

Saddle Up! Women’s Leadership Retreat, which offers professional development for female executives and business leaders. Co-taught with Barbra Schulte, our focus is on leadership lessons learned from the back of a horse. Open to businesswomen from any industry, this retreat offers unique and innovative perspectives about leadership, but does not…

Julie's dad on his palomino trail horse, Scout.

The Making of a Trail Horse, Part 4 (and Other Duties, as Assigned)

…in the high mountains, sometimes leading three pack mules while keeping an eye on the dudes, shaped my perspective of what it takes to make a great lead horse. To me, a great trail horse is also a good lead horse—your partner in safety, in control, and in, well, leadership….

Pepper walking in the snow between two tree branches.

Winter “Whoas”

…out my Lead Line Leadership video for ground tying and other exercises to work on. We try to keep our horses barefoot in the winter because it’s better for their hooves and an unshod horse has better traction in the snow and ice and is less-likely to get snowballs…

Proactive Riding—Take the Driver’s Seat

…the horse’s actions and motivations (e.g., to rest or to get closer to the herd), the proactive rider has many tools to redirect the horse’s behavior and assume the leadership role.

Again, before you move on to treating disobedience as a training issue, be sure to rule out…

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Leadership And Authority

…not everyone who has horses has the leadership skills to convince the horse that they are the leader of their herd of two. You don’t necessarily have to be the best leader, you just have to be better than your horse. Fortunately, leadership skills can be taught and learned, as…

Secret Powers are Within You!

…brain shutting down, missing opportunities to connect. This is not the picture of confident leadership.

Around horses, we like to say, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” because even if you feel weak on the inside, you can fool your horse by looking up and displaying strong body language…

Julie petting Pepper's neck

Does My Horse Like Me?

…indifferent to you or is actively avoiding you, but when you allow your emotions and your human expectations to get involved, you do a disservice to your horse. Taking the higher road, by having empathy and displaying leadership, takes the pressure off you and the horse.If what you want from…

The Making of a Trail Horse, Part 2

…stern and a relationship based on trust and solid leadership.

To me, the ideal trail horse is safe and reliable in changing environments, is always mannerly and obedient, consistent in its behavior, well-trained, responsive, and experienced in a variety of settings. I want a horse that is brave…

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3 Leadership Activities

…and maintain your leadership.

Five minutes of training here and there can go far to help you maintain your relationship with your horse, especially if the relationship is firmly established.

And the more you spend time increasing your leadership and enhancing the bond with your horse, the more…

horses next to each other looking agitated

Did You Teach Your Horse to Kick?

…riders—to stay calm and focused on the positive outcome, to show confidence and leadership even when you don’t feel that way, and to ride the horse more forward even when your greatest wish is to stop and get off. These are not riding skills; they are mental skills. This is…

Horse Master with Julie Goodnight, The Final Chapter

…common challenges horse owners face:

32 were on advancing riding skills—improve the rider so the horse can do his job 24 on were leadership (human) and ground manners (horse) 21 featured spoiled, tantrum throwing horses (always the fault of humans) 21 about riding the canter 18 were about spooky horses…

Annie Closeup

Quiz: What is Your Horse’s Training Level?

…low score originates with you—either through poor handling or unclear, inconsistent expectations. Sometimes changing your leadership is all the horse needs to become a perfect horse!

Then you must determine where the holes in your horse’s training are and how you can patch them. The training resources in my…

Horse rearing on the lunge line

“Rearing” to Go!

…or riding instructor can generally help riders navigate through the disobedience and show more leadership to the horse.

If a horse is rearing because you are inhibiting its forward motion, holding it back when the other horses take off, the solution is simple—just let the horse move forward…

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Trust Is A Two-Way Street

…to believe the words coming out of the politician’s mouth, disregarding his actions and judgment. But you cannot fake leadership to a horse; your actions speak louder than your words.

A true ‘Alpha’ horse is propelled into the leadership role by the other members of the herd. I remember…

Julie riding Annie in the arena

Horses Give More than they Get

…better than us humans do. Horses crave strong leadership and are drawn to it like a magnet. Hierarchy is linear, with one horse at the top. There is never a void of leadership in a horse herd; when a leader falls down on the job, another horse will immediately assume…

A Horse’s Sense of Fairness

…good judges of leadership and trustworthiness. Because they are herd animals, they are mindful of leadership, hierarchy, rules, and ramifications of behavior. They are instinctively drawn to strong leadership, with a compelling desire to be accepted in a herd and a profound fear of banishment from the herd. Horses thrive…

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Establishing Dominance

…strive to be a kind and benevolent leader for our horse. This involves setting parameters and ground rules and giving fair and consistent leadership to the horse. Spoiling, pampering and coddling the horse will only lead the horse to disrespect you and search elsewhere for leadership.

If you are…

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Nurturing The Try In Your Horse

…humans do and how they will keep on trying to please.

Over the decades, I have learned that horses thrive on structure, consistency, praise and discipline. They crave leadership and authority and they feel safe and content in its presence. Leadership is very black and white to a horse…

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Ground-Work Exercises

…the winter, he may quickly revert to a herd mentality. In that mode, he’ll follow the herd’s cues, rather than keep tuned in to your leadership.

“You may undermine instead of boosting your leadership if, in the winter, your horse is turned out with his buddies and you only…

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Building A Better Relationship: New Horse Has Become Herd Bound

…you have to earn it. To a horse, you have to demonstrate good leadership qualities 100% of the time—not just when you are thinking about it. Horses are excellent judges of leadership; in their minds, their lives depend on it. For a horse to be willing to leave the safety…

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Issues from the Ground: Lead line leadership

Question Category: Issues from the Ground

Question: I know I need to teach my horse to respect me while I’m leading him at halter. He’s pushy and pulls me. How do I get started? How can I teach my horse the skills he needs to behave while I’m

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Winter Workouts – Ride Right With Julie Goodnight

…to you for leadership. Your horse will continue (or become) a respectful partner who is looking for your leadership and permission.

You can do groundwork in a small space—in your barnyard or even inside the barn. You only need a small area that isn’t slippery and that is fairly…

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Building A Better Relationship: Ground Manners For Showmanship

leadership status. Horses establish dominance in the herd by controlling two factors: resources and space. The dominant horse always controls the resources; she eats first, drinks first and gets first shot at whatever she deems valuable or important. Also, the dominant horse controls the space of any subordinates. You can…

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My Horse Is Herd-Bound And Barn Sour

…two doesn’t make it so; your horse is very adept at detecting leadership skills–or lack there of. In his mind, his very survival depends upon good leadership.

Unless and until your horse can look up to you as his leader, trust that you’re in charge of the universe…

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Issues From The Saddle: Fear Of Riding And Inappropriate Horses

…discipline from their owner or rider. They need you to be a leader and they are very adept at discerning your leadership skills. There is never a void of leadership in the herd and at any time that you fail to show your self as the competent captain of the…

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Building A Better Relationship: My horse Takes Advantage Of Me

…change your attitude than whether or not you use a crop. As soon as you change your attitude and show a commitment and a determination to reinforce your cues, your horse will happily obey. When you get wishy-washy with him, he senses a lack of leadership and tries to step…

Three Common Mistakes that Erode Your Horse’s Trust

In Florida, Julie encourages this experienced horse to take jumps confidently—even in new places. Photo by: The Whole Picture, LLC.

Horses know good leadership when they see it because their lives depend upon it. We probably all agree that the ultimate relationship with a horse is one in

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The Great Escape

…opposite in fact—but because when there is a void of leadership, the horse will always take over.

I think Erika turned a new leaf with Cosmo after our two days together. All she needed to do was step up to the plate and show some leadership to the horse…

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A Horse With A Human Problem

…to ride him better and show some leadership on the ground. He’s become oblivious to her demands from the ground because she lets him walk all over her without any repercussions. He’s a well-trained, well-tempered horse but he does need leadership.

I see these types of problems all the…

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In Command And Control

…on his own. We humans have a habit of ignoring unauthorized actions of the horse—like letting him walk off without a cue when you mount or veering off the path you have dictated. We often rationalize our lack of leadership/authority by saying to ourselves, “Well, I was going to ask…

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The Great Escape

…of a horse that learned bad behavior, not because he was a bad or even naughty horse, but because he was simply lacking training and leadership.

Cosmo was a youngish (I think he was four) warm blood of some sort—I believe he was an Anglo-Trakehner (that part of my…

Julie riding her horse, Dually.

Riding in the Moment

…but prepared—with both physical and mental skills.

Prey and the Herd Mentality It’s hard for us to remember, but horses are prey animals and they worry about their safety a lot. That’s one reason why they crave strong leadership and authority—it makes them feel safe. The leader of the…

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On The Rail: Q And A

…Pretending to be a leader, but in the horse’s mind, it’s all a sham. horses know true leadership when they see it. It cannot be faked.

When people (in any setting) try to assert authority when they have none, the horses begin to disdain that person. “who do you…

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

…idea that you don’t eat horse cookies). If he is begging for the treat, he is invading your space. Both factors, resources and space, have been settled; your horse is in control of you. Because of a lack of leadership from you the horse takes over, which often leads to…

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Horse Behavior: Handling A Stud Colt

…three year olds, but in the case of a stud colt, I would start him earlier.

As for why a horse responds differently to male and female is not so much gender related as it is related to leadership, confidence and firmness in handling. Women tend to approach horses…

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Fearful Trail Horse

…is engrained disobedience and part of it relates to the confidence and leadership of the rider. We expect your horse to behave, insist upon it really, and we expect him to go down the road like a horse should; and that is indeed what he does. However, he does not…

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Horse Turns Toward Gate And Stops Working

…Lead Line Leadership will take you through this process with step-by-step explanations. The Complete Groundwork Package includes two DVDs and all the equipment you need for groundwork.

After spending some quality time with your horse from the ground, you’ll also have to address your authority with your horse from…

A Devoted Horse

…to control your own emotions and be aware of the body-language message you present your horse, is all it takes to have a compliant and willing horse that worships the ground you walk on.   My Herd, My Rules Horses know leadership when they see it; they seek out authority,…