How to re-train a lead-rein horse to ride solo

20 November 2021

I recently bought a 13 year old, 17.2 Clydesdale Gelding. He was backed at 8 years old and has done very little work since being broken, his main job being a lead-rein horse for his owners young grandchild.

He is a very gentle boy but a bit of a worrier. I've been lunging him and he moves through the gaits perfectly, but now I've introduced work under saddle he frequently just stops dead in his tracks and wont move for love nor money. I tried turning him around to walk in the other direction every time he stopped but by the end he was just taking a few steps then stopping and finally just wouldnt turn at all. I got off and walked him around the arena on foot for five minutes then which he did happily so we werent ending on a stressed note but it's not ideal.

His saddle has been recently fitted, he's got a full bill of health so i'm not worried its a health or pain issue.. I think he just misses having someone walk beside him.

Has anyone experienced this? I keep my horses at home and unfortunately dont have anyone to come and walk beside him until he realises its okay to go alone. But I'd love to hear your experiences and any tips!


Merry Equimas

Well-Known Member
25 October 2010
He has learned that going forward is only done with a person at his head, the long reins will help you make him more confident to walk alone. Make sure that he knows voice ques first (teach in hand and on lunge) then try the long reins, eventually ride. Always use the same commands for what you’re asking. Once he really knows what you’re asking he’ll be more likely to want to do it.


Well-Known Member
20 April 2011
I know a lot of heavy horses who are not particularly thoroughly broken - usually chuck tack on, sit on, go forwards and stop is all they are taught. If he was broken 5 years ago and then has only really been ridden on a lead since I would want to take it back to the beginning and rebreak from scratch (sounds like the backing is fine so I'd probably pick up from there).