Question Category: Issues from the Ground
Question: I have a three month old colt. We halter him every day to lead him to and from his pasture. We started leading him with a butt rope which worked very well. In the last month or so we’ve been leading him like any other horse. We use a rope halter and 12′ lead. He is becoming a big, scary problem because he is very energetic and runs up ahead of us, sometimes passing by with a side kick towards us, or he will rear up at us. I’ve been looking all over the place for help with the rearing problem and just can’t find any answers. I am worried for the safety of myself and my 13 year old daughter. What am I doing wrong? How can I correct his poor leading behavior? Also, when we ask him to follow us into the stall he always rears up and resists. I assumed that this was caused by the pressure on his nose and head, so when entering the stall, we now always put the rope behind his rear to encourage forward movement. Please help, he’s getting bigger and scarier by the day.
Your colt is just being a colt and doing what they do best, causing trouble! This is exactly why it is not recommend that novice horse people deal with young horses (colts can be much more of a handful than fillies). There are several Q&As on my website about this sort of behavior. Your colt doesn’t mean anything by it, nature programs him to ‘spar,’ which is simply play-fighting. But even though it is meant in playfulness, it can be quite deadly.
Like all youngsters, he just needs to learn his 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 www.JulieGoodnight.com or by calling (800) 225-8827 during business hours.
In particular your colt needs to learn that when he is being led, he must remain in a very particular place, beside you and behind you, very aware of your space, stopping when you stop, going when you go and NEVER getting in front of you. He must be corrected immediately whenever he is not in that place. As you have discovered, letting him run off in front of you is not only rude but very dangerous and this behavior needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes engrained and before someone gets hurt.
There is lots of info on my website on the subject of unruly colts and of teaching a horse good ground manners. However, you may need to get some expert help, so this bad behavior does not continue and so that no one gets hurt. Good luck and be careful!
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