Fundamental horse handling skills permit the human handler to control the movement of the horse without endangering themselves or the animal. In the beginning it is best to learn and practice these skills from the ground. They are directly transferable to work from the saddle.
The basic skills (maneuvers) to be mastered include:
- the horse stands still and relaxed at a respectful distance
- the horse steps back when cued
- the horse steps forward when cued
- the horse yields its hindquarters when cued
- the horse yields its forequarters when cued
- the horse follows your lead when cued
In a herd setting the leader is the dominant horse that can make the other members of the herd move when and how he or she wants them to. By mastering the basic skills listed above, to the point where the horse responds in a relaxed and willing manner, you are exercising leadership and have earned the horse’s respect.
In addition to enabling you to safely control the horse, the fundamentals are an excellent starting point for trouble-shooting behaviour issues. By start at the beginning and working our way forward we can discover the learning point that is causing difficulties.