Horse Training, Controlling the Feet
Gaining Control of the Horse's Feet, On the Ground
*This article is written assuming your horse or pony is halter trained.
*Rope Halter preferred with a 14' lead rope
With the horse in front of you a foot or so away, holding the lead so there is slack and you can continue to allow slack, shack your finger back and forth at the horses head a few times. At this point if your horse moves back a step stop and relax for a few moments. This gives him the pressure to back up and when he shows effort you take the pressure off. This teaches him through natural horsemanship communication.
If he does not move his feet back you need to increase the pressure with out any release, so form the finger shack you will go to a whole hand shack, getting the lead rope moving a bit. If he makes any action back, even a small step you release the pressure for a moment. If there is no movement, increase the pressure with out release by shacking your arm and really moving the lead rope and if still nothing swing the arm from the shoulder as hard as you can for as long as it takes until he takes a step back and then release.
The release is the most important part and here is why... Horses in a herd learn from each other through a pecking order. The most dominant horse bosses the others around. If you watch closely you will see that he or she does this by increasing pressure from pinned ears, to a strike with teeth and eventually to a kick or bite until the other horse moves it's feet away and then there is release. If the other horse learns quickly that if they want to stay out of danger of a bite or kick it is easier to move at the first sign of pressure. That is what you are doing with your horse.
When you first start shacking your finger at your horse he has no clue that you are asking him to back up away from you. As you increase the pressure and he moves and then gets the immediate release for doing the right thing he knows what you want. And as you train him, starting with the finger shack he eventually will associate that as pressure to move his feet back away from you.
Continue the backing until he is several feet from you... five or ten... and then start coaxing him back to you.
Lightly tug the lead rope towards you again releasing when there are steps towards you. Since your horse is halter trained and used to moving his feet forward when you tug on the lead this should be easier to convey to him. As you are tugging you can be running the rope through your hands and increasing the tug until he steps up.
*Repeat these steps several times to get him to understand what you are asking... back and forth like a yoyo.
This exercise is a good first lesson in getting your horse to move his feet upon request from the ground. I have owned horses that are crowders, always wanting to be right on top of you and this is a great way to get them to respect your space and only to come into it when asked by you.
This lesson is perfected when you can simply shack a finger ti gt him to back up and run the rope through your hands with little or no pressure to get him to come to you. Repeat as neede and practice daily for perfect practice.