EFM3 – Follow the Leader


Connecting to your horse can only happen when the horse feels safe. For a horse a sense of safety comes from comfort, trust, and respect. EFM 1 gave us an idea of how to gain a horses trust and what a horse needs to find comfort. To gain the respect of the horse you need to be its leader.

By nature, horses instinctively seek leadership. Leadership involves choosing the direction for the group and providing security to all others in their herd. Leading horses are usually calm, stable an wise. A leader can be an older mare, and she helps to keep the other horses safe and lead them to food. The other horses respect her very much for her wisdom, experience, guidance and providing safety. Her wise decisions to travel to food and water or to run in case of emergency literally mean the difference between life and death. 

When the horse sees you as a leader it follow you, respect you, trust you, feel safe and he will be willing and cooperative.

Session Objective

By the end of this session you will understand the importance of, and have had an opportunity to practice:

  • becoming your horses leader

Principles to Be Practiced

  • safety first – for you and the horse
  • present moment awareness 
  • communication
  • leadership
  • Applying pressure / rewarding with release of pressure


Session Activities

  • “entering the moment” – mindfulness practice to become aware of horse, self and environment
  • independently catch, halter, and groom horse
  • lead horse to arena
  • Park the horse and establish and maintain your personal space
  • Use the carrot stick to practice being friendly
  • Back the horse up
  • draw the horse in – the follow me game
  • Yield the Hind
  • Yield the Fore
  • Follow my shoulder

Questions to Consider

  • What is leadership?
  • What is the relationship between leadership and mindfulness
  • Why do horses need a leader?
  • Do you need to establish leadership over your horse? Why? What are the characteristics of a good leader?
  • How does one horse become dominant over another? How can we use knowledge of this behaviour to practice equine leadership?
  • Does the horse have a voice?
  • Can you be assertive without appearing aggressive?
  • How important is clear intent?
  • How important is clear communication?
  • What do you do if your horse is not doing what you are asking?