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Bob, how can you teach a horse to watch for the small things that can trip him? My horse notices the big, obvious trippers, but has a lot of trouble with noticing the slight changes on the trails. All things point to a horse who isn't careful, he is not rushing.... help.

- S.B.


Howdy, S.B.!

The solution is for you to be his eyes. Remember, a horse can't see as well as you do in the daylight. Everything is a bit fuzzy and he has very poor depth perception except for a very limited amount straight ahead. On his hind quarters, of course, he's totally blind. When I'm on the trail, I'm always alert to things like rocks, holes, slippery mud, ice, etc. As we approach those areas, I'll calmly tell Willy to slow down, take it easy, and watch his step. By moving over those uneven footings slowly, he is able to feel his way despite not really being able to see the hazard. Your horse can see the large problems; you have to take care of the smaller ones.

By the way, a tip-off as to what's going on is your observation that "all things point to a horse who isn't careful." Remember, a horse will tend to behave toward you like you behave toward it. If he's not being careful, what does that tell me about the rider? ;o)

Happy trail-watching!

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