How to Make a Horse Move Forward

Horses are friendly creatures and by nature will not deliberately disobey you, although sometimes they do get confused about what you're asking. Below are the basic steps you can take to re-clarify for what you're asking: for the horse to move forward.


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    Refresh yourself with the many cues of asking a horse to move forward. Different disciplines have different cues, and between riders there are tons of different cues they'll use. Below are some of the most common ones; try them and try to determine which cues work best for your horse.
    • Hugging your legs around the horse, sometimes rocking forward in the saddle
    • Connecting with the horse's mouth, getting his attention, then lifting the reins up and forward
    • Making kissing or clucking noises (careful: this is also a cue for a horse to speed up into a trot or canter)
    • Looking forward. Horses are incredibly sensitive animals and can tell where you're looking and where your focus is from the subtle difference your body position will have.
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    Make sure you aren't making any barriers to keep the horse from moving forward. Are you pulling the reins back or leaning back while asking the horse to move forward? Make sure you aren't sending confusing cues to the horse.
    • Once certain that you aren't sending confusing cues, move on to the next step.
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    Relax yourself and clear your mind, look where you want to go, connect with the horse's mouth, let your legs long, and hug the horse with your legs. If you ride Western you can lift the reins up and forward towards the horse's head. When you hug the horse with your legs, keep your legs long and squeeze with your calves. You may need to give the horse some mental inertia by rocking forward in the saddle a bit.
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    If your horse won't move straight forward, trick the horse into just moving by starting the horse in a different direction. Try backing up the horse and then having the horse move forward, or turning the horse and then riding in the direction you originally wanted to go. Once your horse becomes more willing to go straight, and to go where you're asking, begin asking your horse to walk off straight.
    • The #1 rule of riding horses: the horse can't go any farther than the tip of his nose. If he will not move, tighten the reins on one side to make your horse turn his head. While doing that, hug your calves around the horse and ask the horse to move forward. First, make your horse move in small circles. Then, let your rein out a little bit, just enough to make the circles he is making a little bigger. Continue doing this until the circles are large. Then, straighten the horse out. There you are! Just try to teach your horse out of this step quickly or it may become a bad habit.
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    Keep repeating the steps until your horse will move forward when asked. This process should quickly train your horse, and you, teaching you both good habits.


  • Never be too cocky to admit that you are wrong. Your horse doesn't want to "be bad" or disobey you. In fact, horses naturally want to please their owners. There is usually something providing a barricade between you, your horse, and him doing what you want him to do.
  • There are people who say that we must show horses "who's boss". These people are wrong. For one thing, horses are amazingly smart, but sometimes we think that they understand that we're the boss and they need to obey us. This isn't so.
  • A horse isn't born with a human on his back, ordering him to obey. He doesn't understand that we are his "master". The best way to get your horse to do what you would like him to do is through love and gentleness and understanding.


  • Always be cautious and careful when riding.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a horse.

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Categories: Riding