You have to spend lots of time with your horse on the ground, it’s not fun or safe if they are bolshy or pushy. Trainer Michael Peace shares some tips to teach your horse to lead politely.

Teaching a horse to lead correctly is a vital part of their training. It teaches them manners, cooperation and trust in their handler, so treat your in-hand training as seriously as your ridden work.

Step 1

To start, work your horse in a headcollar with a long rope attached, and position yourself out in front and slightly to the side of them. This may go against everything you’ve been taught, but when working with a bolshy horse, out in front is the safest place to be in case they rear or barge into you. It also gives them an idea of where they should be going next.

Step 2

Walk with purpose, make several changes of direction, and regularly stop and start to keep your horse’s attention. Another good exercise is to stop, back your horse up, give them a rub on the neck to say thank you if they’re being polite, and then walk on. This gets your horse thinking about stopping, rather than just pushing past you.

Step 3

All the time you’re leading them, your horse should be focused on you, so that when you stop, they stop. If they aren’t concentrating and barge into you then stop and wave the rope at them to get them to back off. Once they’re the correct distance away, give them a rub on the neck to say thanks. This teaches them that it’s their responsibility to respect your personal space.

Step 4

It’s important to make your intentions clear and be deliberate in your actions, both when you’re leading and when you’re pushing a bolshy horse back out of your space. If a horse barges into another horse in a herd they will be pushed back, so you’re mirroring horse language.

Meet the expert: Michael Peace is a specialist trainer who works with young and problem horses in all disciplines. Find out more about the Think Equus approach at

Receive six issues of Your Horse magazine for just £15!

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue