Pulling Back

Also Known As

Resistance to lead or halter

Description

When a horse is resistant to being led or tied by pulling back against the halter or rope, serious consequences may develop.

Most properly trained horses become compliant and yield to pressure without any major demonstrations or "freaking out" behaviors, but some horses are either naturally resistant or may have been previously trained or traumatized in a way that prevents their cooperation in what seems to be a simple and straightforward situation.

Symptoms

  • Horse pulls back on halter or rope when being led or tied
  • Horse digs in and rears or moves sideways

Causes

Pulling back may be caused by previous training, lack of training, or past trauma. The pulling back may result from situations where the horse was taught to hold firm and not yield to pressure in such activities as calf roping or other rodeo-based training.

Pulling back may also be a fear-based reaction if a horse has been tied too tightly for long periods of time or subjected to being hit by a handler while being forced to yield to the pressure of a rope or halter.

Prevention

Good horse management and training will prevent a horse from developing bad habits such as pulling back.

Treatment

A horse that has developed the habit of pulling back will need to be retrained. If the habit has become so ingrained that it is a threat to the safety of the horse and/or the handler, a professional trainer should be engaged to retrain the horse to properly yield to pressure. .

Trainers and veterinarians have developed several techniques to retrain horses that are prone to pulling back, including use of a belly rope and other positive reinforcement techniques that work with most horses.

Since pulling back can lead to accidents that might injure the horse or those around it, consultation with an experienced trainer is recommended.

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