In this article I will give tips on how to lead a difficult, bargy, rude or strong horse. This horse should not be led by a novice.
A horse that is rude or bargy is very dangerous. I say ”jerk the leadrope” a lot in the article. Please do not say this is mean, because it is not, it is to teach a difficult horse manners, which, in the long term, will help both him and you. Please note, this technique can be used on mares and geldings, but should not be used on stallions, as the latter demands to be treated with utmost respect.
To begin with, safety first. You must wear a hat, in case the horse pulls you over and kicks you, or steps on you. You should also have gloves that allow you plenty of grip, in case the horse pulls hard on the leadrope, as this could lead to rope-burn.
I say leadrope, but it may be advisable to lead a strong horse in a bridle as this offers more control. You can also use a dually halter, a contraption designed by Monty Roberts to lead difficult horses. When they resist it, it puts pressure on them, but when they walk properly, the pressure loosens, and they soon learn not to resist it.
Another tool is a nose chain. This can be clipped to itself, put round the horse’s nose and if the horse pulls, the chain tightens and puts pressure on the nose. Now the horse will be uncomfortable, even in pain. The horse will soon learn that, to avoid the pain, you walk nicely. Personally, I do not recommend this, as the horse works more on fear of pain than true respect.
Please note, a beginner or novice should not handle a strong, bargy or rude horse.
It is worth getting your horse checked for pain – back, teeth, legs, etc – to ensure that this is not why the horse is barging. Once this is ruled out, look into nutrition to ensure this is not the root of the problem.
If the horse has suddenly become bargy, it may be related to his feed. If he is not being ridden, unless he is a bad doer, he will only need grass/hay and possibly a vitamin-mineral supplement.
Once his feed is ruled out, you can begin using anti-barging training.
Put headcollar and leadrope on as normal and ask the horse to walk on. Do not rush, walk at your own pace. If the horse starts pulling, slow down, and say ”steady” and put a bit of pressure on the leadrope. If he still does not respond, jerk the leadrope to tell him this is not acceptable.
If he continues to do this, say ”halt” and jerk the rope. When the horse stops, praise him, and make a fuss of him. If he stands still, ask him to walk on.
If he does not stand still, push him back where he was. So, if he walks five paces forward without you asking, jerk the leadrope toward his chest and push him back with your hand on his shoulder, to push him back five paces, and praise him when he stands.
One thing NOT to do is to cling to the leadrope with constant pressure. This is dangerous, as it is a battle of strength, one he will surely win.
Rearing and Bolting
If the horse rears, step back out of range, and drop the leadrope if you are in an enclosed space, and do not feel comfortable holding on.
If the horse bolts, you will probably be unable to hold on, so give sharp jerk, and if this does not work, let go, or you will get dragged. It is rare that a horse will bolt, as this is usually an act of fear or sheer panic.
If the horse starts throwing his head about, jerk the leadrope and walk on. Don’t pull him constantly, or it will turn into a battle of strength, and he will win.
I hope this helped, please comment below!