Trainer Aaron Ralston teaches a horse to drag a log.

Educate your horse to pull a log

A flexible ranch horse can do something its rider asks, together with pulling instruments or animals with a rope hooked up to the saddle horn. Ranch agility horse competitions mirror actual ranch duties that embrace a rope impediment within the ranch path class. Grownup ranch path riders should pull a rope object and wrap the rope across the saddle horn) then circle or full a determine eight.

Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Dragging an object with a rope could appear straightforward, but it surely’s additionally straightforward to mess up. Right here, coach Aaron Ralston helps you safely train your horse to pull a log. First, you may make sure that your horse is comfy following and watching the log drag, then you definately’ll be taught to tug the rope whereas staying in a protected place. Your horse will be taught that in coaching, the protected factor to do is to take a look at the rope and trunk as a substitute of working away.

It is necessary to know find out how to work a rope correctly, Ralston says. It is easy to get right into a wreck if you do not know find out how to maintain the rope in the suitable place.

Earlier than Dragging it

Earlier than you climb, ensure you have a rope made for ranch work. The twisted rope retains its form and doesn’t break simply.

You must also make sure that your horse accepts the texture of the rope touching him. Right here, let’s assume that your horse will stand nonetheless and calm down when a rope touches his physique. (In case you want desensitizing assist, go to

Safe or tie your ropes to a log earlier than you begin practising. Select a log that’s related in weight to a calfabout 125 to 175 kilos. A log with some weight will mimic the pull of a calf and supply resistance as you and your horse pull.

Security Notes: Bear in mind that at any coaching step, you may flip and face the trailing log in case your horse turns into anxious. Turning to the aspect the place the rope touches your leg will relieve the strain and permit your horse to cease, look and calm down with out getting wrapped up.

By no means dawdle till your horse is calm and cozy whereas pulling. You possibly can all the time maintain the rope and drop it if crucial till your horse absolutely accepts the sensation of the trunk being pulled.

Observe first

Have an skilled pal drag a go surfing a horse that has mastered the talent. Observe your horse. First, strategy from afar and transfer ahead to observe extra intently.

A rider follows another horse by dragging a log to let his horse know it is safe.
Ralstons son Colton pulls the log as Ralston follows. Discover how Ralstons mare pricks her ears ahead, displaying her curiosity and willingness to observe the mysteriously transferring inanimate object.Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston suggests permitting your horse to see the stump transfer along with his eyes in all attainable positions.

Let him see it from the entrance, then from behind along with his proper eye, then from behind along with his left eye, he says. Seeing the log transfer from these totally different instructions will assist your horse be much less afraid of it when pulling on the rope.

Drag the Rope

Then get your horse used to dragging the rope with out something getting caught.

With out the specter of one thing else transferring, make sure that your horse is comfy with the rope touching him throughout, Ralston says. He can drag it after which flip and face the tip doing the identical transfer Unwell train later with the log hooked up to the rope.

Ralston says it is a good time to get into the behavior of holding coils of rope in your left hand (setting) whereas holding the rope whereas dragging in your proper hand. The rope and the thing you can be dragging will all the time stay on the suitable aspect of your horse.

Along with your hand additionally holding the coils, you may modify the size of rope you feed to pull the log. When it is time to pull the log, you may wish to hold the size of the rope lengthy sufficient that your horse will not step on the log, however brief sufficient that the additional rope will not get caught below his tail. Maintain your stump a couple of horse’s size away out of your horse.

Drag the log

Ask a pal to provide the coiled finish of the rope hooked up to your log. From the beginning, let your horse face the stump so he can clearly see what’s transferring and cut back his need to run away.

I am going to let him face the stump and never get mad, Ralston says. I’ll sit at a protected distance and you’ll pull the log nearer. It desires to again up away from the log. We’re safer and will not get caught.

A trainer allows his horse to look at the object
Stand a protected distance away and pull the log nearer together with your arm power. Your horse will wish to transfer away from the log till he accepts the log transferring in the direction of him and stays nonetheless. Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston continues to tug the rope towards his horse till he’s nonetheless and permits the log to maneuver towards him. When he stands nonetheless, it is time for the following step.

Half a wrap

It is time for Ralstons horse to tug the rope. With out wrapping the rope tightly across the saddle horn, Ralston strikes the rope in a U form across the saddle horn, with out making a full circle round it. On this half wrap, the horse will transfer the rope and wooden, however Ralston can rapidly launch the rope if wanted.

I am going to ask him to again up and transfer the log, he says. She helps good and relaxed and assured. He begins licking and chewing, which implies he’s pondering and processing.

An instructor puts the rope around his saddle horn
To initially train your horse to again up and pull the stump, wrap the rope in a U form across the saddle horn, with out making a full circle round it, so you may rapidly launch the rope if wanted.Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Keep on this stage till your horse calmly returns to the command. If at any level he appears nervous, return to pulling the rope your self and go away half the wrap.

Pull after which flip

In case your horse is comfy with the log in entrance of him, it is time to pull it from the suitable aspect. To start, you’ll place your horse in order that the log will not be behind him.

Now, I am going to flip my horse, says Ralston. It is a scarier place for horses as a result of they can’t see the stump with each eyes. I do not wish to stroll away from the rope straight away. I wish to be at a three-quarter angle to the log so I can simply flip my horse up the log with out getting caught.

Standing nonetheless in our three-quarter place, I really feel my horse begin to transfer and fear that the stump is in a brand new place, he says. I flip him to the suitable to face him once more. When calm, Unwell return to the three-quarter place and transfer the log. If he strikes his legs, I am going to flip him again up. I hold working till it’s nonetheless after I pull it to the three quarter place.

A trainer teaches a horse to drag a log and eases him into it at a three-quarter angle.
Turning your horse round is scarier as a result of he cannot see the stump with each eyes. Keep at a three-quarter angle to the log so you may simply flip your horse to face the log. Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston says that hell is simply half wrapped across the horn when his horse stands nonetheless and permits him to tug the log within the new three-quarter place.

I am going to have a partial evening and take a number of steps, he says. If he panics, I undo the dali and face the stump. The most secure factor to do is confront them. We do not need them to pack their tails and go forward and away. If the rope will get caught within the saddle horn they usually run, it should snowball right into a adverse consequence. Unleashing the horses is all the time to face it and stand nonetheless.


Keep within the three-quarter draw place till your horse is calm, accepting the block and transferring ahead with out stress. Solely then is it time to instantly transfer away from the log.

Ralston says it is best to undo your half wrap and look towards the stump each time your horse stretches or strikes rapidly.

If the rope touching your horse’s hindquarters makes him anxious, return to the three-quarter place after which face up. The rope shall be on my proper leg and on the suitable aspect of his rear.

Ralston says he makes use of the strain of his proper leg, reaching behind the bit, to maneuver the horse’s hip to the left each time he is fearful the rope would possibly go below the horse’s tail.

My proper leg is pushing that hip from getting too far below the rope, he says. This may forestall the rope from driving up over the hip and wrapping round us. If this rope goes over the hip, it is vitally harmful. This occurs if you change into too straight and haven’t got a slight downward bend within the hip as you pull. At any time, I can push that hip to the left, face up, and be protected.

A horse pulls a log straight through
When pulling straight, use your proper leg behind the bit to offer your horse’s hip to the left everytime you’re fearful the rope would possibly go below his tail. Picture by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston reminds you that each time it’s essential to relaxation or reward your horse, take a look at the stump. All the time emphasize that coping with the log file is the very best model.

Finally, you may circle your horse in each instructions, working a giant determine eight whereas holding your rope securely in your proper aspect. At larger present ranges, horses carry out the figure-eight trunk pull whereas trotting, however solely after they perceive the fundamentals and infrequently look towards the stump.

Meet the teacher

Aaron Ralston works his Colbran, Colo., household cattle ranch horses and prepares them for world-class competitors. Earned prime 10 honors on the 2021 AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships within the Open Junior Ranch Path and general championship finals. He additionally holds championship titles in reining, slicing, cow and calf roping and gained gold for the US rest group on the FEI World Equestrian Video games.

This text on instructing a horse to pull a log appeared within the October 2021 situation of Horse Illustratedjournal.Click on right here to register!

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