Help With My Horse

Strategies for Training Horses with Steering and Lead Issues

Training a horse can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, especially when dealing with specific issues like steering and lead problems. In this instructional blog, we’ll explore effective strategies for training horses like Ringo, a four-year-old with a tendency to avoid work by not steering correctly, stopping unexpectedly, and picking up the incorrect lead. These tips will help you understand and overcome common training hurdles.

Understanding Your Horse’s Behavior

Assessing the Horse’s Background

  • Know Your Horse: Understand your horse’s training history. Horses like Ringo might have foundational training but develop avoidance behaviors.
  • Observe Behavioral Patterns: Pay attention to when and why your horse exhibits certain behaviors. Is it during specific exercises or at certain times during the session?

Building Trust and Respect

  • Establish Leadership: Horses respond well to a confident leader. Use clear, consistent cues to establish your role.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward desired behaviors with praise or gentle patting to reinforce good habits.

Tailoring Your Training Approach

Warm-Up and Groundwork

  • Structured Warm-Up: Begin with a relaxed walk, gradually transitioning to more demanding exercises. This helps in muscle loosening and mental preparation.
  • Groundwork Exercises: Engage in groundwork to build respect and attention. This can include leading exercises, lunging, or simple commands.

Addressing Steering and Lead Issues

  • Incremental Steering Exercises: Start with basic steering exercises and gradually increase complexity.  The video, Foundation Training, covers the basic steering exercises that I start with. Use cones or markers to navigate. 
  • Lead Correction Techniques: Practice lead changes in a controlled environment. Use visual cues and slight shifts in your weight to guide the horse. In the video, Let’s See How This Goes, you can watch me ask for a flying lead change on a horse that has never been asked to change.  

Advanced Riding Techniques

  • Responsive Riding: Be quick to respond to your horse’s movements. If the horse resists steering, gently but firmly reassert the direction. If you have a horse with a busy mind and is easily distracted, the video Teaching a Distracted Busy Minded Horse to Focus will help you. 
  • Balanced Body Position: Maintain a balanced posture. Your body language greatly influences the horse’s response.

Consistency and Patience

  • Regular Practice: Consistency is key. Regular sessions help reinforce learning.
  • Patience is Crucial: Understand that progress takes time. Be patient with both yourself and your horse.

Overcoming Specific Challenges

Dealing with Laziness and Avoidance

  • Recognize Avoidance Tactics: Some horses may stop or pick the wrong lead to avoid work. Be aware of these tactics.
  • Counteracting Laziness: Encourage forward movement and correct leads by making the wrong choices more labor-intensive for the horse.

Enhancing Rider Confidence

  • Confidence Building: Work on building your confidence. A confident rider instills confidence in their horse.
  • Riding Through Difficulties: Learn to ride through minor behavioral issues. This teaches the horse that such behaviors won’t lead to a break.

Safety and Comfort

  • Ensure Safety: Always prioritize safety for both you and your horse. If an exercise feels unsafe, step back and reassess.
  • Comfort for the Horse: Make sure the horse is physically comfortable. Check tack fit, and be mindful of any health issues.


Training a horse with steering and lead issues requires a thoughtful, patient approach. Understanding the horse’s behavior, coupled with consistent, responsive training techniques, can significantly improve these issues. Remember, the goal is not just to correct behavior but to foster a harmonious relationship between horse and rider. With time, patience, and the right strategies, you can transform challenges into opportunities for growth and bonding.

My horse training journey has brought me from winning world titles to now trying to make every horse the best they can be and to help you improve your equestrian knowledge.

1 thought on “Strategies for Training Horses with Steering and Lead Issues”

  1. Well written helpful article. Thank you. I will use this information when working with my horse.

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