Horses That Pull Back or Won't Stand Tied
© 2006 Josh Lyons and Keith Hosman - All Rights Reserved

Training a difficult horse? This issue is for you if your horse pulls back, won't stand tied, drags you off, or wants to bolt, buck or blow up.

Our clinics are based on foundation work. They help you build a foundation for whatever you want to do with your horse, whatever discipline you ride. On day one, for the first fifteen minutes, riders are encouraged to do whatever they normally do when they ride their horses. They'll lunge their horses if they normally start out that way. They walk the horse around if that's normal, they trot their favorite pattern, they ride in a shank, a side-pull or snaffle… whatever they typically do, that's what they do. Then we start making changes.

If you're attending one of our clinics, or reading this article, or hiring a trainer, then virtually by definition, you too are looking to make a change. That change begins when you "fall back to the basics" and place your focus on foundation work.

The articles that follow form an "electronic textbook" mirroring what we teach in our clinics. They describe how to build a strong foundation by taking control of your horse, one "body part" at a time.

I don't specifically teach my horse to not pull back. Instead, when I'm working on "giving to the bit," what I'm teaching is to "give" in the direction of the pull, regardless of where it comes from. Up, down, whatever angle the pull comes from – it should make no difference to the horse. No matter where the pressure comes from, you want them to get to that bit, to give in that direction.

If you want to stop your horse from dragging you off or pulling back, he needs to learn that his head shouldn't go up. When he feels pressure his head should go down or give toward that pressure. You do the same thing from their backs when you ask them to move their shoulders or hips over. (See the "Steer the Tail" exercise as outlined in "Issue One: Get Control of Your Horse," part 4.)

NEXT: Teaching Your Horse to Stand Still .


About the authors:

Josh Lyons: One of the most sought-after clinicians in the world, Josh Lyons offers you and your horse a second chance or an enhancement of your existing relationship. His gentle and objective methods, pioneered by his father John Lyons, have helped novice rider and pro alike. Josh continues the “Lyons Legacy,” teaching the John Lyons Certification Program in Parachute, CO and touring often.  He is a frequent contributor to national publications like "Perfect Horse" and "Horse & Rider.” Find out more about Josh Lyons.

Keith Hosman: If your horse won't speed up, slow down, stop or turn, you missed the latest training methods from Josh and John Lyons.  Have you lost your confidence?  Want a horse to brag about?  Invest one weekend to make big changes with John Lyons Certified Trainer Keith Hosman.  Keith is based near San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, private sessions and training.  He frequently partners with fellow Certified Trainer Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations — with nearly 30 on his 2006 schedule. For more horse training articles, or to attend a clinic or find a John Lyons trainer living in your area, visit now.  

No part of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of Josh Lyons and Keith Hosman. To contact us regarding reprints or syndication of our articles (in print or online), please contact us via



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