Getting a horse to lead past your shoulder comfortably is an essential part of establishing a good riding connection. I always find horses at clinics who struggle with this – so even if you are sitting there thinking your horse can do this – follow these steps as we break it down and check that it is really working.
Before we start this challenge, let’s refine our rope skills.
You can work on these at home on a rainy day.
Pushing horses out on a circle has been very common in horsemanship. I don't believe it is a good way to motivate a horse. Here's why. Essential viewing.
This is something you can do as a prerequisite for leading past the shoulder. It is teaching a horse re-balance it's feet from the pressure on it's nose and in so doing becoming more flowing and less braced. Movement becomes easier to the horse. (The content in this is also important for your horse's life skills like tying up.)
Essential viewing. This is an in depth explanation of the process needed to successfully guide your horse past your shoulder. It does offer solutions to some problems you may encounter.
This video is good for people with horses that have done circles worried and who have a tendency to want to move away from the person from fear of driving pressure. It shows how to teach a horse how to slow down and be softer through guiding.
There are some great rope handling and guiding suggestions in this training video to offer more clarity.
Leading past the shoulder starts off as a confidence building opportunity for many horses. Just be aware that an inclination to not want to do this is probably due to lack of confidence. It is hard for them to move past your shoulder.
It is also an opportunity for us to take out some areas where they may brace. Just like the back up, your horse will get to the stage where its confidence will carry a nice thought past you.
Our positioning is very important in this. We need to establish a good bubble and teach our horses to walk around our space not through our space. This is why it is important that they follow a feel by you – not just wander past. Keep your rope active.
Before I get a horse to step out onto a circle, I teach them to pass me. Then when I get them to the stage where they can go past me comfortably, I can later get them to think and step out and then go past me comfortably.
We are trying to get our horses to soften so watch for any hardening of their expression or eyes. Don’t ask them to go further until they have softened in that position.