KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Executing "Leg Tugs"

Preparing Hoonah for his first trim

A horse needs to be able to tolerate things around his legs. One never knows when a rein or a lead rope could drop and get snagged around a leg and the horse has to maintain a clear head. Also, you may need to lift a leg with a rope as a result of an injury or other problem. Here's an easy drill to practice.

Patty Thomas is demonstrating leg tugs with "CJ," a mustang captured out of Nevada. She has her left hand on the halter lead and her right hand on a longe line which is looped around CJ's front leg. She will urge CJ forward using the leg line and maintain some "steering" by making light suggestions as necessary with the halter lead.

Important note: The line is not looped tight around the horse's leg. She has passed the line around the leg and back up to her hand so it can't cinch tight around CJ's fetlock. It will drop free if anything goes wrong and she needs to let go.

The horse may fuss a little, but eventually he will follow the rope. In this illustration, as CJ moves forward, Patty moves backwards putting just enough pull on the line so that it won't fall off CJ's leg. The tug rope must follow the horse's leg back to the ground. Patty then applies pressure in order to get CJ to take the next step. Before too long, he is following her all around. (She's actually leading him by the leg.)

Patty performs the exercise on both sides of the front, then moves to the hind legs.

Please note! Patty has assumed a position relative to that of CJ, where she can handle him yet still maintain view and control of the exercise from a safe location next to CJ. Also, she is holding the both ends of the rope so that she can easily let go in case CJ spooks and gets fouled up. We recommend use of soft cotton rope so that in the unlikely event something does go wrong and the horse gets the rope fouled around his leg, he will not likely suffer a rope burn.


This evolution is confusing to a lot of people. They worry about getting the horse tangled up in the rope. Start with the front foot where the horse can see what's going on. You can observe better and the horse's leg movements will be less violent if he gets upset.

Just take the rope and pass it around the upper part of the horse's leg. Hold on to both ends (you've formed a long "U"). Slide it down the leg like one of those old fashioned weight reducing machine belt thingies until you get to the pastern. If the horse startles or moves around, just drop one end of the rope and let him step out of it. You've not made a loop, so he shouldn't get tangled up in any way.

If he does step out, support your efforts with a "Learn-Learn 'Take Two'" in order to encourage him to be thoughtfully patient.

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