For horses that rear while being led, the solution is simple.
Teach your horse to lower his head on command.
The head down cue helps greatly to both relax a horse and get his attention on you. A horse who is frightened or nervous will naturally have a raised head with tense neck and back muscles. When a horse lowers his head, he begins to becomes less nervous…this is a relaxed position that a horse takes when he feels safe and comfortable. He’ll relax all the muscles through his neck and back, which also influence the rest of his body to relax.
By teaching your horse to lower his head on command, you will be able to have a special cue that tells him “it’s alright” or “it’s safe, you can relax”…a cue that he can clearly understand and easily respond to.
Teaching your horse to lower his head will cure his habit of rearing. When he is properly trained to lower his head on command, he will stop rearing all-together. Think about it…a horse cannot be rearing up and lowering his head at the same time. When he rears, his head goes up. Once you have taught him the head down cue well enough that he will respond as desired 100% of the time, you can begin to use it to keep him busy when he is nervous, and to get his attention on you.
Teaching horses to lower their head
The instant you feel that he may become nervous or might rear, ask him to lower his head immediately. If he raises his head again once you release the pressure, repeat the request/response/reward each time he tries to raise his head. He will soon realize that it is easier to keep his head down than to go up-down-up-down-up-down. He learns that you stop bothering him, and stop asking him to do things when he stands with his head lowered, relaxed.
After teaching horses to lower their head on command, I use the same cue to relax horses while teaching them to do everything from trailer loading and crossing streams to balancing under saddle and more complex riding maneuvers. This cue is one that should be taught to every horse regardless of discipline, age or breed. I promise it will help you teach your horse alot more than just fix his rearing.
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