Unity Horsemanship

Connecting Humanity to Horses

Gaining Respect


Connecting to your horse can only happen when the horse feels safe. For a horse a sense of safety comes from comfort, trust, and respect. We have looked at how to gain a horses trust and what a horse needs to find comfort. To gain the respect of the horse you need to be its leader.

By nature, horses instinctively seek leadership. Leadership involves choosing the direction for the group and providing security to all others in their herd. Leading horses are usually calm, stable an wise. A leader can be an older mare, and she helps to keep the other horses safe and lead them to food. The other horses respect her very much for her wisdom, experience, guidance and providing safety. Her wise decisions to travel to food and water or to run in case of emergency literally mean the difference between life and death. 

When the horse sees you as a leader it will trust, respect, and follow you willingly.

Session Objective

By the end of this session you will understand the importance of, and have had an opportunity to practice:

  • becoming your horses leader

Principles to Be Practiced

  • safety first – for you and the horse
  • present moment awareness 
  • communication
  • leadership
  • applying pressure / rewarding with release of pressure
  • 7 attitudes of mindfulness – non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.


Session Activities

  • check in / personal mindfulness practice (optional)
  • assess the herd
  • halter a horse and lead it away from the herd
  • groom the horse
  • park the horse
  • play the friendly game
  • back the horse away
  • draw the horse in
  • cause the horse to yield its hind 
  • cause the horse to yield is fore

Questions to Consider

  • What is leadership? Why do horses need a leader?
  • Do you need to establish leadership over your horse? Why? What are the characteristics of a good leader?
  • What is the relationship between leadership and mindfulness
  • How does one horse become higher ranking than another? How can we use knowledge of this behaviour to practice equine leadership?
  • How important is clear intent?
  • How important is clear communication?
  • What do you do if your horse is not doing what you are asking?