Trick Training - Teach Your Horse to Bow
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   13th Sep 2013   •   11,328 views   •   3 comments
Teach Your Horse to Bow

Every little girl has a dream. To be swept off her feet by a charming knight in shining armour on a big white horse, and have him kneel down before her, take her hand, kiss her cheek, and whatever other secret, romantic fantasy her little heart desires. Unfortunately, for some little girls, the world can kind of a wad about the whole ‘charming knight’ thing, but hey, that’s what the horse is for. So if you haven’t managed to get your knight onto one knee just yet, then perhaps it’s time to turn to a somewhat fluffier substitute, and get that tall, dark and handsome fella of yours bowing to you like the princess every little girl once believed she was.

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I used to think that getting a horse to bow was impossible; I thought it was something that only skilled horsemen and professional trainers could do. For that reason, I never really tried it, and when I did, I gave up quickly for fear of messing it up. Looking back now, I think that might have been my biggest mistake. As with any kind of training with any kind of animal (knights included) the key is confidence. Many owners complain of horses seeming panicky and nervous when they try to coax them into the bow, but more often than not, this is simply the fault of uncertain training. As a trainer, you must believe in what you’re doing, and stick to your method with the utmost consistency. Horses learn through repetition, so if you are religious in repeating the same set of instructions, your horse will eventually learn. But I digress, pointing at your horse and saying, “I am confident, now bow to me!” is certainly not going to be even a little bit helpful in your training, although if it helps your self confidence, then by all means, go right ahead. For now though, let’s take a look at how to get Mister Tall, Dark ‘n Handsome down on one knee.

Step one:
Get your horse a HUGE collection of his favourite treats. Carrots are the easiest and safest to use, but if your horse has a special fondness for hamburgers or hotdogs, then you might get better results by bribing him with some delicious meaty goodness instead.

Step two:
Put a headcollar on your horse, and take him to an enclosed space with nice, soft ground so he can’t hurt himself. (Like a lunge arena, or a room in an asylum.)

Step three:
Make sure that your horse’s ground manners are up to scratch. He must respect you on the ground in order to learn. He should be obedient in picking up his legs, moving away when you push him, walking forward when you leave him, etc. If he is rude or disobedient on the ground, then I suggest that you take some time to fix this.

Step four:
Carrot stretches. The point of this exercise is to teach your horse to follow the carrot. Get his attention, and then lower the carrot to between his front legs, and make him reach for it. Repeat this several times, moving the carrot further and further away each time until you see his knees starting to buckle. Only reward your horse.

Step five:
Once your horse is comfortable with extreme carrot stretches, try lifting one of his front legs, then ask him to stretch. He may be confused and unbalanced at first, but you just need to persist until he’s comfortable doing carrot stretches with you holding his leg up.

Teach Your Horse to Bow

Step six:
Gradually start to pull your horse’s leg back, and ask him to stretch a little further for his carrot. He should rock his weight back and square his back legs, allowing him to bow on one knee. This step can take quite some time and patience, as it goes against a horse’s nature to put itself in such a vulnerable position. Try to help your horse along by encouraging him to shift his weight back, almost as if you were asking him to reverse. When he finally drops his weight onto the raised legs, get your hands out of the way and reward him while he is still in the ‘bow’ pose.

Step seven:
Practice step six until your horse bows comfortably every time you ask, then start teaching him to move his leg back on his own. Try tapping his leg to make him lift it, then ask him to reach for the carrot and move into the bow. You may have to help guide his leg back at first, either with a gentle push on his bent knee, or by supporting his fetlock. Try to gradually start helping him less and less until he can do it on his own. Every time you ask your horse to bow, make sure you give him a voice command, like “Bow”, to associate with the trick.

Step eight:
Practice, practice, practice! Once your horse understands the concept of the ‘bow’, it’s up to you to improve and develop the trick as you will.

Good luck, and happy trick training!

Teach Your Horse to Bow
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Training      Horse News More From This Author:  Polo the Weirdo
This is brilliant! Will definitely help Pogo improve his lame bows- thanks! :D
  Sep 14, 2013  •  12,112 views
Thanks!!!! Copper, watch out!!!
  Oct 11, 2013  •  12,129 views
I taught my horse to bow about a year ago. It is a great trick for mounting bareback.
  Nov 23, 2015  •  5,733 views
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