Young horses should
first learn from older, more
experienced horses before being
asked to go it alone, she says.
“I usually don’t ask a young
horse to go out alone until he
has developed the confidence
he needs while riding with a
stable-minded barn mate. I will
let him follow the other horse,
then take turns letting the young
horse lead. Once the green one is
able to take the lead on trail with
another horse, he then has the
confidence for you to ask him to
take the lead on his own.”
Young horses simply lack
confidence. You’ll need to
convince your youngster that
you are a confident leader and
protector. “In order to do this,
you as the rider need to feel that,”
says Rogers-Buttram. “You can’t
teach a young horse if you don’t
have the confidence to lead him.
“Remain calm, sit deeply, and
lead the horse with your legs, light
hands, and most of all your body
sending signals of confidence,”
she continues. “As a herd animal,
the horse needs leadership.
Without it, he becomes upset,
afraid and looks for an escape
route. Many times this is what
It’s crucial to remain patient
and deliberate in your training.
“Keep in mind that your horse is
learning every time you handle
him, so you must be careful to
not let him learn something
the wrong way,” says Rogers-
Buttram. “It’s harder to unlearn
than to show him correctly the
For a horse that has developed
a habit of being barn sour,
you need an entirely di;erent
“Barn sour is just a term for
a horse that has figured out a
way of getting out of work,” says
Rogers-Buttram. “This horse is
not scared or lacking confidence.
In fact, he has plenty of
confidence and is smart enough
to engineer a method of getting
“Like the young horse, he
reads your body signals and
is working o; of them,” she
continues. “So, after you mount
this type of horse and start to
leave the barn area, be prepared
for his little bag of tricks.
“He may rear, spin, balk,
or even back up. At this point,
the worst thing you can do
is to dismount, or he wins
automatically. You and he are
having a battle of wills, and to
dismount lets him have control.
So what do you do? You must
again remain confident. He will
sense that and think twice about
Refocus the horse’s attention on
you and o; of his barn, buddy or
pasture. “In order to do that, apply
leg pressure and circle in both
directions,” says Rogers-Buttram.
“The tighter and faster you circle,
the more he must focus on his feet.
“Circling will make it very
di;cult for him to rear, back or
balk,” she continues. “This will
give you the position of being in
the driver’s seat without any type
of aggressive treatment toward
the horse. Most horses will give
up in about five minutes tops.
“There are some that may take
longer, but they usually come
around to your way of thinking
pretty soon. They may try this on
several rides before the behavior
is completely abandoned. But the
key is to make him focus on you
at all times. You will gain his
respect and will soon have a nice
MICAELA MYERS is the author of
The Horse Illustrated Guide to Trail
Riding (Lumina Media) and KNACK
Leg and Hoof Care for Horses.
+ Let someone know
where you are riding and
approximately what time
you plan to return.
+ Keep your cellphone on you
versus in a saddle bag in
case you become separated
from your horse.
+ Consider carrying an
identification card or
bracelet for yourself and
affixing a tag with address
and phone number to your
+ Pack a basic human and
horse first-aid kit.