As you turn around on the trail to head home, does your horse speed up without your prompt? Or, does your horse fidget when your friends’ horses get ahead? Make sure your horse is listening to your cues, not simply following his instincts. Follow these tips to keep your horse listening at home and on the trail:
Give him confidence. Your horse may feel anxious if he’s away from his buddies. To help him gain confidence in himself and you, purposefully stop your horse and ask your friends to ride on by. Praise him for standing still with pats and soothing words.
Teach him to listen. If the trail is wide enough, ask your horse to turn his head to the left and right. Then make a half circle, and walk 5 to 10 feet in the opposite direction as your buddies. Praise your horse for listening, then ride toward your group. Stop, and repeat the exercises a few times as you catch up so that your horse doesn’t learn to charge ahead toward the herd.
Ride a zigzag pattern. As you’re walking or trotting with your friends, keep your hand and leg cues active and meaningful. Ask your horse to take a few steps to the right and left, creating a zigzag pattern across a wide trail. Alert your friends so they know where you’re headed. Better yet, ride the pattern together.