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When I lead my horse she either wants to rush forward (sometimes ears back) or she will push her shoulder in as opposed to staying in her own space, what should I do?

Original Question

I’ve got a question I would love some input on Angie Wicks…I have noticed that when I lead Ellie Mae, she either wants to rush forward (sometimes ears back), or she will push her shoulder into my leg as opposed to staying in her own space.

I was going to try the lead from beside exercise using a crop for rhythmic pressure….but would love some tips for what to do when she wants to rush forward or push into me.

Thank you. 

Angie’s Answer

Great question Lisa.

  1. The leading beside exercise will really help with teaching her not to lean or push into you with her shoulders. If she pushes or even leans with her inside shoulder turn your stick around (even just the handle) and create some rhythmic energy with your stick and push it towards her shoulder, then as soon as she moves it away from you release and walk forward again, until she learns to not lean on you or into you with her inside shoulder. You would use the stick in the same way you ask the horse to move their ribcage out and more sideways when lunging when they crowd you (a very similar problem). A lot of horses lean or push with their inside shoulder. Also, make sure you are not standing too close to her when you start working on leading beside as this just gives them something to lean into. Stand about a meter away from her and ‘her sweet spot’ is to learn to keep that same distance away from you. Once she starts to understand how to keep space and not lean or push into you then over time you can make the space closer.

  2. The rushing forwarding will be improved as your backing up improves (for personal space). You will need to work on her understanding of when you create energy and wiggle the rope she backs up ideally off a soft or medium pressure. Once she can back up really well off a soft wiggle then you will have a fix for when you are leading and it starts to feel like she wants to push or run you over. As SOON as you feel her do this then start wiggling, you may have to start at medium pressure (not soft) as you are not teaching the cue, you are setting a boundary or rule; running me over is not acceptable behaviour. You may have to go to effective if she ignores the medium cue. Though if you work on all the skills when she isn’t in this situation then she will respond better to the communication cues when she gets anxious and runs into you.

NOTE – Whenever any of you have a problem, always ask WHY???? Why is she pushing on you? Why is she running you over? Is she anxious, is she worried, has she not been taught how to back up, does she not understand boundaries and personal space rules and so on.

Everything is related, all problems and negative behaviors will start to dissolve as you work through improving your communication with your horse in every area on the ground. The more your horse learns to stay in the learning state and the more they start to really relax the better everything else will become.

Hope this helps,

Have you all have a fabulous weekend!


Angie Wicks

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