All too often, I see people leading their horse from the pasture or the arena, and they are out in front of their horse at the end of the lead rope with the horse following right behind them. This irritates me for two reasons. First of all, there are safety concerns when you lead a horse in this manner. If that horse spooks at something, it's behind you, out of your sight. You won't see that the horse has spooked until it's too late to do anything about it. If your horse does spook, he/she will likely go forward, and you are now inconveniently in their way. Not only does walking way out in front of your horse give you no control over your horse, but it puts you in danger of being run over.
If you were walking correctly, right next to your horse, you will be able to see any possible "scary" things at the same time as your horse, and you will have the ability to react and control your horse. Being next to the horse gives you control of its head, and as long as the horse's head is facing the direction you want the horse to go, you most likely will not get run over, and your horse has less of a chance to bolt and get loose. The second reason that I am against walking right in front of your horse is because you are missing out on the opportunity to bond with your horse, and see what mood he/she is in that day. It is soooo important to know what you have to work with on any given day. It will affect what goals you make for your ride that day, and help you be aware if anything is off about your horse. Walking next to your horse is such a simple and convenient thing to do.
When you are right there by your horse's side, you are putting yourself on the same level as him/her. You can see what your horse sees and also see how your horse is reacting to their surroundings. Horses pick up on little things that are different or new that sometimes we humans don't notice. Your horse will also notice that you are walking beside them, and if he/she spooks, a pat on the neck and some soothing words may be all your horse needs to feel confident and safe again. You and your horse are a team, and you should work as one unit. There's no need to rush ahead of your horse, you won't get where you are going any faster anyway. Please take time to bond with your horse, even if it's just by walking next to them and getting to know your horse's body language.
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