Essential Horse Manners

A Beautiful Gold And White Spotted Palomino Quarter Horse
grandriver / Getty Images

Whether you have a horse to ride, drive, or just as pasture décor, here are the eight ground manners your horse should have so both you and the horse are happy and safe. These manners are also essential for safety. 

  • 01 of 08

    Lead Quietly in Hand

    Female Equestrian Walking her Horse at the Stables
    Every horse should be trained to be well behaved while being led. Cavan Images/Stone/Getty Images

    When you lead your horse he should walk beside you quietly paying attention to you. When you ask your horse to back up or step to the side he should float away from your cue like a rubber ducky being pushed in a bathtub, not like a brick being pushed through sand. Your horse shouldn’t pull you, barge ahead, hang back or push into you. Teaching your horse to lead properly is the basis for almost every other aspect of good ground manners.

  • 02 of 08

    Allow Every Body Part to Be Touched

    vet examines stifle
    A vet can examine a horse's legs and general health to assure you it is healthy. Image: Alan Crowhurst - Getty Images

    Your horse should let you touch every part of his body. Often ears, muzzle, sheath or udder, between legs, and chest are sensitive spots that many horses object to having handled. But these areas need to be cleaned or dressed if they are injured. Teaching your horse to have these areas groomed and touched is essential.

  • 03 of 08

    Stand Quietly to Have Feet Handled

    Veterinarian bandaging leg of a horse in stable
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Horses need regular hoof care and they need their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks. Teach your horse to stand quietly while you clean their hooves or while the farrier works with them. This ground manner makes cleaning and trimming time much less stressful, (and less painful) for all involved.

  • 04 of 08

    Accept Paste Wormers

    Horse dentists
    Jeannot Olivet / Getty Images

    Deworming your horse will help to keep in optimum health. Teaching your horse to accept paste wormers makes regular parasite control easier. It also makes the administering of other oral medications and some dental exams easier.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Get on a Trailer

    Loading horse onto ramp trailer.
    Loading horse onto ramp trailer. Image Credit:Hedda Gjerpen/E+ /Getty Images

    A horse that won’t load on a trailer quietly isn’t just frustrating—it can be dangerous. You may not plan to leave your property with your horse. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t learn to get on a trailer. Emergencies can happen and you may have to take your horse to a vet clinic. Over the last few years, many people who never expected to, have had to evacuate because of fire, flooding or other disasters. Or you might change your mind about going to horse shows. And while you may never dream of selling your horse, the unexpected can happen. Often horses who don’t lead well, also don’t load well.

  • 06 of 08


    Young woman leading horse.
    Leading and standing quietly are two essential manners. Image Credit:Arnold Media /Getty Images

    I use the command ‘wait’ to tell my horses to wait until I completely open a gate or stall door before coming through, or to stand and wait while I put feed in the buckets. A horse with poor ground manners that barges through gates or doors is dangerous to both handler and horse and it makes feeding a time a hassle if the horse is pushing in to get food.

  • 07 of 08

    Be Caught

    white horse running
    Chasing a horse might be teaching it to run away. Image Credit:Mike Hill /Getty Images

    Even if your horse is just pasture decoration it still needs ground manners and will at some point need to be caught. There is nothing more frustrating than having planned an hour of riding, or training or other activity and have that time taken up pursuing your horse around the pasture. It can get costly too if the farrier or veterinarian is waiting. Things can get dangerous if your horse feels cornered and the only escape is over top of you. Teach your horse to be caught each and every time you want it.

  • 08 of 08

    Stand Tied

    Mules tied to the side of an aluminum stock type trailer.
    Image Credit: K. Blocksdorf

    Standing quietly to be tied, whether to a post, beside a trailer, a tree or in cross ties is an absolutely essential ground manner. You’ll want to tie your horse to groom, clean hoofs, tack up or harness up, or just to keep him safely out of the way while you attend to other matters. Teach your horse to stand quietly while tied without fussing or pulling. Often horses that don’t stand quietly while tied don’t lead quietly either.