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Leading Your Horse Through Gates and Doors
 By Winniefield Park   •   29th Jul 2014   •   3,893 views   •   2 comments
Leading Your Horse Through Gates and Doors

It sounds simple right? And you may do it almost every day. But leading your horse through a gate takes a bit more attention than you might first think. Holding a horse while fiddling with a gate latch, having other horses crowd around or having the gate get caught in the wind, among other things, can make this supposedly easy maneuver riskier than it first appears. Oddly enough, people do get hurt doing this every-day, commonplace thing. That doesn’t mean you should feel at all apprehensive about going through gates, because when you have a horse and a pasture, chances are it’s something you’ll be doing a lot. You just need to know how to handle your horse and that gate.

First of all, your horse needs to lead well. It’s astounding how many don’t. Leading obediently is the basis for many other good manners, like going through gates and doors and onto trailers. If your horse pulls, walks on you or gets pushy while being led, it’s time to go back to basics. Your horse needs to walk beside you respectfully and stop and stand quietly when told to. This will make everything else much easier and safer.

Before you open the gate, make sure there aren’t other horses milling around and crowding the entrance. There shouldn’t be anyone else trying to push past, harass your horse or standing in the way. Shooing them away or throwing a bit of grass over the fence, so they’ll clear the way might be all you need to do.

Make your horse stop and stand in front of the gate. Snatching at grass, rubbing its head on you or other distracting behaviour shouldn’t be allowed. I made a bad habit of letting my horse crop the grass while I held the end of the rope, and opened the gate latch. This gave her enough room to swing her rump around to me or step on the lead. It also meant I had nothing to grasp if she spooked or bolted. That’s just asking for trouble.

Open the gate with one hand, while holding the lead looped across your palm, not coiled around your hand. If the gateway is a bit narrow, your horse should be trained to stand and wait for you to go through, and then go through when asked. Your horse shouldn’t just be allowed to plow through as it anticipates freedom.

Once through, ask your horse to turn around and face you and the gate. Pull the gate closed just enough that it can’t get back through, but you can. Then undo the lead rope snap or remove its halter, step back through the gate and latch it securely. You want the horse to face you, because it will be much harder for it to kick out towards you in the excitement of rejoining its friends.

One tip for dealing with a gate that swings too easily or is hard to latch up is to make an easier way to fasten the gate temporarily, such as a rope looped over the gate post, so you can do up the main latch once your hands are free. This also can help prevent the barnyard Houdini from unlatching the gate easily.

This is much the same process you can use for going through doors. Even when putting your horse in a box stall, you should always ask it to turn and face you before removing the lead rope or halter. Asking your horse to stop before going through a narrow door may take a few extra seconds, but it’s much safer than being dragged through and getting bumped against a door frame or being stepped on.
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Valkyrie   MOD 
Oh god. Do you know what's nerve-wracking? Trying to get wound-up Thoroughbred yearlings through the narrow box doors at a sales complex. Holy frijoles. Those horses are worth more than I will ever be. And sometimes they don't want to go back into the little boxes after being paraded. It can get pretty hairy!
  Jul 31, 2014  •  3,960 views
 
Winniefield Park  
a friend of mine was badly hurt doing something similar--be careful! Wear a helmet.
  Aug 7, 2014  •  3,902 views
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