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Train Your Horse to Drag a Log


A flexible ranch horse can do something his rider asks—together with pulling gear or livestock with a rope linked to the saddle horn. Versatility ranch horse competitions mirror real-life ranch duties that embrace a rope-drag impediment within the ranch path class. Grownup ranch path riders should pull an object by rope and dally (looping the rope across the saddle horn), then circle or full a figure-eight sample.

Photograph by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Dragging an object with a rope could look simple, however it’s additionally simple to get tousled. Right here, coach Aaron Ralston helps you safely train your horse to pull a log. First, you will ensure that your horse is snug following and watching the log drag, then you definately’ll study to tug the rope when you keep in a secure place. Your horse will study that in coaching, the secure factor to do is face the rope and log as a substitute of working away.

“It is essential to know learn how to work a rope accurately,” says Ralston. “It is easy to get in a wreck if you do not know learn how to maintain the rope within the right place.”

Earlier than the Drag

Earlier than you mount up, be sure to have a rope made for ranch work. Twisted rope maintains its form and will not break simply.

You will additionally want to make sure that your horse accepts the texture of rope touching him. Right here, we’ll assume that your horse will stand nonetheless and chill out when a rope touches his physique. (If you happen to want desensitization assist, go to

Loop or tie your rope’s finish to a log earlier than you begin to apply. Select a log that could be a comparable weight to a calf—about 125 to 175 kilos. A log with some weight will mimic pulling a calf and can present resistance as you and your horse pull.

Security notes: Remember that at any coaching step, you may flip and face the dragged log in case your horse will get apprehensive. Turning towards the facet the place the rope touches your leg will relieve stress and permit your horse to cease, look, and chill out with out getting wrapped up.

By no means dally till your horse is calm and cozy whereas pulling. You may at all times maintain the rope and drop it if obligatory till your horse totally accepts the texture of pulling the log.

Observe First

Have a educated good friend drag a go online a horse that has mastered the ability. Observe alongside in your horse. First, strategy from afar and transfer ahead to comply with extra carefully.

A rider follows another horse dragging a log to teach his horse it's safe.
Ralston’s son, Colton, pulls the log as Ralston follows alongside. Discover how Ralston’s mare pricks her ears ahead, displaying her curiosity and willingness to comply with the inanimate object that mysteriously strikes. Photograph by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston suggests permitting your horse to see the log transfer together with his eyes in all potential positions.

“Let him see it from the entrance, then from the again of his proper eye, then from the again together with his left eye,” he says. “Seeing that the log strikes from these completely different instructions will assist your horse be much less petrified of it when he is pulling the rope.”

drag the rope

Subsequent, get your horse accustomed to dragging the rope with nothing hooked up.

“With out the specter of one thing else shifting, ensure that your horse is snug with the rope touching him throughout,” Ralston says. “He can drag it after which flip and face the top—doing the identical movement that I am going to later train with the log hooked up to the rope.”

Ralston says it is a good time to get used to holding the coils of the rope in your left (reining) hand, whereas retaining the dragging rope in your proper hand. The rope and the thing you will drag will at all times keep on the proper facet of your horse.

Together with your reining hand additionally holding the coils, you may regulate the size of rope that you’re going to feed out to pull the log. When it is time to pull the log, you will have to maintain the rope size lengthy sufficient in order that your horse would not step on the log, however brief sufficient in order that extra rope would not get caught beneath his tail. Preserve your log a few horse size away out of your horse.

Log Drag

Have a good friend hand you the coiled finish of the rope that is hooked up to your log. From the beginning, enable your horse to face the log in order that he can clearly see what’s shifting—and scale back his urge to flee.

“I will let him face the log and I am not going to dally,” Ralston says. “I am going to sit at a secure distance and pull the log nearer. He needs to again up away from the log. We’re safer and will not get caught up.”

A trainer allows his horse to face the object
Stand at a secure distance and pull the log nearer with your personal arm power. Your horse will wish to again up away from the log till he accepts the log shifting in the direction of him and stands nonetheless. Photograph by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston continues to tug the rope towards his horse till he stands nonetheless and accepts the log shifting towards him. When he stands calmly, it is time for the subsequent step.

Half Wrap

It is time for Ralston’s 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, not making a full circle round it. On this half wrap, the horse will transfer the rope and log, however Ralston can shortly launch the rope if wanted.

“I am going to ask him to again up and transfer the log,” he says. “He is backing up good and relaxed and assured. He begins to lick and chew, that means he is considering and processing.”

A trainer loops the rope around his saddle horn
To initially train your horse to again and pull the log, loop the rope in a “U” form across the saddle horn, not making a full circle round it, so you may shortly launch the rope if wanted. Photograph by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Keep at this stage till your horse calmly backs on command. If at any time he appears nervous, return to pulling the rope by yourself and launch the half wrap.

Pull, Then Flip

In case your horse is snug with the log in entrance of him, it is time to transition to tug from the proper facet. To begin, you will place your horse in order that the log is not behind him.

“Now, I am going to flip my horse,” Ralston says. “It is a scarier place for horses to be in as a result of they can not see the log with each eyes. I do not wish to transfer right away from the rope. I wish to be at a three-quarter angle to the log in order that I can simply flip my horse to withstand the log with out getting caught up.

“Standing nonetheless at our three-quarter place, I can really feel my horse begin to transfer and fear that the log is in a brand new place,” he says. “I flip him to the proper to have him face up once more. When he calms down, I am going to return to the three-quarter place and transfer the log. If he strikes his ft from him, I am going to flip him to face up once more. I maintain working till he stands nonetheless once I pull it on the three-quarter place.”

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

Ralston says he’ll solely take a half wrap on the horn as soon as his horse stands nonetheless and permits him to tug the log with the brand new three-quarter place.

“I am going to take a partial dally and take just a few steps,” he says. “If he panics, I undo the dally and face the log. The most secure factor is to have them withstand it. We do not need them to tuck their tail and go ahead and away. If the rope will get caught on the saddle horn they usually get working, it’s going to snowball right into a unfavorable consequence. The horse’s launch is at all times to face it and stand nonetheless.”

Straight On

Keep on the three-quarter pull place till your horse is calm, accepts the log, and can transfer ahead with out stress. Solely then is it time to trip right away from the log.

Ralston says it is best to undo your half wrap or dally and withstand the log any time your horse tenses or strikes shortly.

“If the rope touching your horse’s hindquarters causes him to fret, return to the three-quarter place, then face up. The rope will probably be towards my proper leg and towards the proper facet of his hindquarters.”

Ralston says he makes use of his proper leg stress, reaching behind the cinch, to maneuver his horse’s hip to the left any time he worries that the rope could go beneath his horse’s tail.

“My proper leg pushes that hip from getting too far beneath the rope,” he says. “That can stop the rope getting up over the hip and wrapping us up. If that rope will get over the hip, it’s extremely harmful. That occurs once you get too straight and haven’t got a slight hip yield as you pull. At any time, I can push that hip over to the left, face up and get secure.”

A horse pulls a log straight on
When pulling straight, use your proper leg behind the cinch to yield your horse’s hip to the left any time you are concerned that the rope could go beneath his tail. Photograph by Heidi Nyland Melocco

Ralston reminds you that any time you should relaxation or reward your horse for doing effectively, withstand the log. At all times emphasize that being confronted as much as the log is the most effective launch.

You will finally circle your horse in each instructions, working a big figure-eight whereas retaining your rope safely to your proper facet. Within the highest present ranges, horses carry out the figure-eight log drag whereas trotting—however solely after mastering the fundamentals and dealing with as much as the log usually.

Meet the Coach

Aaron Ralston works his horses on his household’s Collbran, Colo., cattle ranch and prepares them for world-class competitors. He received Prime 10 honors on the 2021 AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships in Open Junior Ranch Path and total championship finals. He additionally has championship titles in reining, reducing, working cowhorse and calf roping, and earned gold for america reining group on the FEI World Equestrian Video games.

This text about educating a horse to pull a log appeared within the October 2021 situation of Horse Illustrated journal. Click on right here to subscribe!

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