Teaching your horse tricks on the ground is a great way to spend time with them and build more trust and confidence in both horse and rider. A simple trick to teach your horse is how to bow and there are two different ways to approach it, with and without ropes. Keep reading to find out how!
The Rope Method
Most trainers like to be able to train their horses to be able to be led by their feet. This can be important for working ranch or trail horses in case they come across wire in the grass. Using a rope to teach your horse may be a quicker way to do so, but it can also turn into a rodeo quickly.
The first thing you will need to do is loop a 15-foot rope between the hoof and the fetlock. Throw the rope over your horse’s back and under the belly, like a cinch, standing on the same side as the roped foot.
Next, apply pressure to the rope until your horse lifts their foot, as soon as they do, let go of the pressure. The goal is to have the cannon bone parallel to the ground.
Once your horse has mastered this, ask them to back up and with a couple of tries, the result will be a bow.
No Ropes Method
Not using ropes to teach your horse to bow may take a bit more time to teach, but overall more rewarding and much safer for both of you.
The foundation of teaching your horse to bow is backing up without pressure. Once you and your horse have mastered a soft back up, teach them to back up using cues, not even touching their lead line.
Next, start asking them to lift their foot, again so the cannon bone is parallel to the ground. Start by holding it and then start using cues like taping above the knee to indicate you want them to lift their leg.
Once you and your horse have these cues down, ask them to back up while keeping their leg lifted. You may have to start by holding the leg and rocking them to back up. Once comfortable, you can start incorporating the hands-free cues of backing up and lifting their leg to flow into a bow.
Tips for Tricks
Remember, when training your horse, it is important to release pressure at the right moment when they have done what is asked.
When teaching your horse to bow, use a soft area. Avoid hard surfaces and rocks.
To keep your horse’s attention on you, use a quiet setting. Away from feed and pasture mates is best.
Although it is not needed, if you would like, you can use positive reinforcement like a horse treat as a reward when your horse has done what is asked. Just be careful not to use them too often!
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
- Listening to the Horse - The Documentary by Elaine Heney & Grey Pony Films
- Shoulder In & Out Training for better balance, bend & topline development with your horse
- Over 110+ Polework Exercises & Challenges to Download
- Dancing at Liberty & Creating Connection with Your Horse (11 lessons) - Grey Pony Films
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to take a bow! Have you taught your horse this trick?