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Frequently Asked Questions



Q2)  What is a safe technique for turnout?

This method assumes that your horse is essentially well-mannered and walks calmly on a lead rope.  It is easy to slip into habits that put you and your horse into potentially dangerous situations even if your horse is calm and well-mannered.  We tend to take short-cuts when in a hurry or when we have been working around horses for a long time.

The first step in walking a horse out to a paddock or pasture is making sure that you are holding the lead rope correctly.  Do not loop the rope around your hand - even loosely - but  gather the rope so that it lays flat in your hand.  Always use a lead rope.  Leading a horse by the halter (even your most trusted horse) can be a disaster waiting to happen. (When my friend was leading a horse by the halter, it reared and broke his finger!)

Deciding whether or not to leave a halter on your horse in the pasture depends on your particular situation.  If you choose to leave a halter on your horse, it must be a halter that breaks, for example, a leather halter or a "breakaway halter."   The horror stories of horse injuries due to non-breaking halters are countless.

With your lead rope in your right hand, approach your gate and halt in front of the gate.  Open it with your left hand and walk through an opening just wide enough to let you and your horse through.  Be careful not to let any other pastured horses out through the gate!  

When you are through the gate, ask your horse to pivot around you with your right hand so that you are both facing the gate.  Close the gate, but don't latch it in order to have an emergency escape if needed.  Remove the halter (if  you choose to take off the halter) or just the lead rope while your horse is still facing the gate.  Allow your horse to move off on its own.  If your horse gets ancy to move off, gently restrain or hold it by the lead rope until it stands still.  This will reinforce the behavior that it must stand still and not run before the halter is off.  Keep an eye on the horse and back out of the gate and securely latch it.

To bring the horse back in, the process is reversed. It is easier if your gate swings both ways.  If not, make sure your horse can back up on command if you open the gate in toward you.  

 If your horse is hard to catch, consult the many training resources that are available to teach your horse how to be caught or better yet, teach it to come when called!   

Visit other areas of for additional information and safety techniques on this and many more subjects regarding horse handling.

Some available resources:

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