By subscriber Vanessa Larocque and Alice Champlin
Vanessa leads Hadley properly. They two are in step. His head is in a natural head set, no stress here, and parallel to her shoulder. Vanessa is “in charge.” If Hadley is lazy and not moving forward, Vanessa taps him gently on the flank with her dressage crop (in her right hand) telling him to pick up the pace. The more you practice leading horses properly the easier it gets and the more you are in control of the situation. Vanessa prefers to use a rope halter for the “teachable” moments in horsemanship. The rope halter gives her leverage; when Vanessa applies pressure Hadley feels tension over the poll and near the nose bridge and across the face. The rope halter is a tool that is to be taken seriously as it can also hurt a horse if used improperly. In other words, “DON’T YANK THE HORSE” especially when they are in a rope halter. Vanessa knows whenever teaching a horse something new, you allow time. She intentionally set aside at least an hour today to work on leading skills before she tackles the mounting block.
Vanessa deliberately leads Hadley improperly to demonstrate how easily people get hurt because they are leading a horse wrong. If he lunges forward, he will knock her down. If he pulls back, he’ll wrench her arm or shoulder.
After showing Hadley the mounting block, Vanessa squares him up with the with it then stands on it. She wants to get him accustomed to her being there. She rubs his back and verbally tells Hadley to “stand.” This becomes an daily ritual as she reminds Hadley consistently what her expectations are. Hadley learns through repetition, he is to stand quietly when it comes to the mounting block.