Training a horse to trot in hand means to teach him the art of trotting on command as you lead him with a halter and a lead rope or shank. While most well-trained horses often require very little training to fully master how to trot in hand, this valuable skill is very useful to a horse in various situations.
Trotting in Hand
Commanding your horse to trot in hand means to command him to trot as you lead him. Since the trot is a quicker gait, you will need to either jog or run alongside your horse as he trots in hand. Young horses are usually taught this skill before they can get mature enough to be broken for riding. This normally comes after the foal has learnt how to lead but before it has been taught to work either on a lunge line or in a round pen.
Teaching Your Horse
If your horse normally responds easily when you apply pressure to the lead, then it is also capable of learning the skill of trotting in hand quite easily. To train your horse on how to trot in hand, stand on his left side holding his lead rope with your right hand just a few inches below his snap while you hold the extra length of the lead rope in your left hand. Then start out the training process by speeding up your pace to a light jog as you apply forward pressure on his lead. You could also add a verbal trot cue, for instance a clucking noise, a kiss or a specific word.
Why Trotting in Hand is Important
If you often show your horse in a showmanship or halter class, then this skill is required since you need to perform such classes while you lead him. During these classes, a horse is often required to trot in order to show his skills, gaits and soundness, as well as his responsiveness to given commands. If a horse is experiencing limb or soundness issues, this skill can also be used to observe his progress in movement and stability.
Some horses are incapable of fully understanding how to respond to pressure applied on their lead ropes. If yours happens to fall into this category, you will have some work to do before he can understand what is expected of him. Similarly, if he trots quicker than your jog, you will need to train him to regulate the gait to match yours. Finally, ensure you remain in the right leading position and avoid crossing in front of the horse or unintentionally pulling him backwards.
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