Riders react differently to this common problem when starting the ride back home. Some riders just let the horse jig and bounce them all the way back as they continuously pull on the reins. All the while this is happening the horse becomes wound up tighter than a kettle drum. Others take off and do anything from a fast jog to a dead run all the way back – just for fun. When any of these things happen some riders get angry, whip the horse and end up on the ground. Riders who can stick continue to abuse the horse into submission. Then there are those riders who send their horse off to a trainer and pay lots of money to get their horse trained to walk home. Others yet give up and sell their horse. The people I see that succeed most often are the ones that look to solving the problem by educating themselves and seek advise from an experienced, humane equine teacher.
One way to safely get this potential wreck under control is to first teach your horse to flex stop in the barn or paddock. This effective method requires repetition and patience and to accomplish the training task it’s best to have your horse in a rope halter, snaffle bit or swivel shank bit to give soft cues. What to do…
1.Start on the ground standing at the horse’s side (about where your stirrup lies on his side).
Place your arm over the saddle while you hold the direct rein (the rein on the side you are standing on). Stay close to your horse with your body against him like you are hugging his back. Now slowly bring the slack out of the rein. (Do not jerk on him or pull hard.) As soon as you see or feel the slightest give toward you with his head, release the pressure and give him your praise (I usually say good boy and rub the neck). Now take the slack out again and ask for more this time. If your horse moves his feet and begins to circle with his hind quarters stay close and keep asking for his head with the rein and say Whoa or Ho or Stand but do not release until he gives you his head.
Stay in position at the stirrup being careful that your toes do not get stepped on. You should continue this procedure until your horse puts his head all the way over to you and can hold this position without resistance or moving for a count of seven seconds, then release him and reward him again. Continue this procedure until your horse gives you his head as soon as you pick up the rein. Some horses will get very responsive and light while others will require more pressure. However, you should be as light as possible. You will need to do this on both sides of your horse until he is responding appropriately as described above.