Jonathan Field: The se­cret to safe turnout

To re­form a horse who is ill­man­nered at the pas­ture gate, re­visit ba­sic ground­work ex­er­cises and es­tab­lish your lead­er­ship.

EQUUS - - Front Page - By Jonathan Field

Q: I re­cently bought an 11-year-old geld­ing with a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous habit. This horse is a bit high en­ergy, but he gen­er­ally be­haves well in the barn and un­der sad­dle. The prob­lem comes when I turn him out each day. As we ap­proach the gate to his field, he rushes up to it. He will not stand qui­etly while I open it, and once inside it is a strug­gle to get the lead rope un­clipped be­fore he runs off. He some­times pulls so force­fully that I can­not keep my grip on the rope, and I have no choice but to let go for fear of be­ing dragged. He be­haves this way whether or not his bud­dies are al­ready in the field.

I would like to be able to lead him calmly to the gate, through it, and then turn him to face me so I can un­clip the lead rope be­fore he moves away. There seems to be a lot to con­tend with here, in­clud­ing herd men­tal­ity, his de­sire for the free­dom of turnout and his sheer strength when he de­cides it’s time to go! How can I break this habit and get a safe, well-man­nered horse at the gate?

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