Challenge 5: Up Close & Leading from the Hip

Is your horse really okay with you up close? Take up this challenge to find out!

Working with your horse closely and going with them on the ground is very important for building your horses confidence with you.  It is also a great way to get your horse to lead out and think forward ahead of you whilst you travel with them. Some horses can find this very difficult because they have relied on a lot of our energies and cue’s to hold them up. What I am going to ask you to do with this is to ask your horse to think about where it is going whilst it is also tuning into you with it’s secondary focus.

This Challenge will build trust your horses trust in you in and help your horse to make confident decisions. Both of these help to make a happy horse.

Key ML Horsemanship Principle:


Mark’s Quote this week:

“Our training should be focused on building a trusting relationship so that when we are with our horses they are relaxed and happy to work with us.” 

Your 5th Challenge:

Watch the videos, then give it a go!

Once your horse is confident at passing by your shoulder, the chances are that you can walk beside it as it is walking forward in a straight line at its shoulder or just behind its wither. This is a good place to start this Challenge. (If you go to the hip too early, your horse may start to disengage and face you.). So start walking at your horse’s shoulder, then work down.

Your first aim is to get them confident at just walking forward + thinking forward + being okay with you going with them. Once your horse is comfortable with you going along with it then you can put yourself in slightly different positions, like the hip.  For the more sensitive horses, walk with them but not too close, being aware of their bubble.

Try to get to a stage that your horse is taking in the environment but tuning into you. If you get slower, your horse gets slower. If you stop, your horse stops with you. At the start, just match your horses rhythm and this can often tune them back into you.

Things to watch for:

If your horse faces you there is a video above to help you.
If your horse has done a lot of circles or lunging, it will be hard for them to do a straight line. They will want to keep cutting across to do a circle. Look and cast your focus in a straight line and walk purposely You can try walking next to a fence (you will next to the fence).
Do it from both sides.

Remember your tool box tools: Be 100% present

Advantages: Leading from the hip sets your horse up for self-loading on horse floats/trailers.
It also helps your horse to think forwards when you are riding.

Complete the course questions

Further work

  1. This is a great exercise to do in the paddock or down the road, as you lead from any spot from your horses shoulder back.
  2. Standing behind their wither, you can use this exercise to show them indirect rein positions.
  3. Leading from their hip, you are in a really good position to ask for a hindquarter turn. (Take up the feel and walk backwards.)