Teach this trick with your horse in a deeply bedded stall, sand arena, or somewhere with soft ground. Do not attempt to teach your horse to bow on a concrete floor or other hard surface. If the horse should lose his balance, you don’t want him to scrape his knees on the ground.
1. Hold a carrot or your horse’s favorite treat down between his front legs so that he will bend down to get it. Repeat this until he does it well.
2. Next, stand on your horse’s side facing towards his front. Bend down and hold the carrot between his front legs. When the horse bends down to get the carrot, slowly move the carrot backwards until he bends his knee back to kneel. This step will take several tries to get it right, so be patient!
When your horse is bowing properly, he will be completely down on one knee with the other leg out in front of him.
Note: The very first time your horse puts his knee on the ground, he might lose his balance or become frightened and stand up right away. This is okay, give him praise and a carrot to tell him it is okay. He will soon learn that it isn’t so hard! Be patient with him while he learns to control his body weight and balance properly on one knee.
Also, when teaching any trick, it is a good practice to teach with and without a food reward. This comes in handy when you have to ask the horse to do a trick and don’t immediately have a carrot ready to give him. Once he has completed the bow, we begin to alternate between praise and a food reward.
The first time, give him a carrot for a reward. The second time, give him praise…”good boy” along with softly stroking his coat. The third time, give him a carrot again. He will begin to bow whether we have a treat for him or not. If you completely eliminate the carrots, he may not perform as he once did, so it is important to reward him with food frequently.