I recently rescued a severely emaciated yearling filly from a bad situation. she has had next to no handling, and is quite fearful of people. I have been working with her daily, and building her trust. She will now stand calmly while haltered, stands calmly while being groomed, allows me to handle her hooves, and comes right up to me when i approach her stall. However, we are still having a problem with leading. As long as she wants to go, she follows without fault. but the second she no longer wants to come along (ex, being put back into a stall after grazing, walking past the wash stall, entering a new building) she stops dead, and will not yield to pressure. She will continue to back up, until she has her butt pressed against something. We have tried leading with a butt rope, having someone 'clap' behind her, tapping her with the lead rope, clicking, clucking, you name it! I'm totally out of ideas on how to teach her to lead nicely. Any ideas on what I can do? Normally I would take her into the round pen and work through the issue and win her trust, but she is very frail, and i'm afraid to push her too hard.
This problem could probably best be handled by teaching your filly the "second position leading technique" or The Dingo, that Linda Tellington Jones advocates.
First be certain that she is not afraid of a whip. You will use a dressage whip for this. Show it to her and stoke her with it. She must accept it. Then stand at her left shoulder facing toward her barrel in back. You will have the lead rope in your left hand and the whip in your right. You will take the whip and STROKE (not hit) her twice on the back and then "Tap-Tap" the whip on top of her croup and at the same time pull a bit on the lead rope.
When you "tap" her on the top of her croup you will say "walk on". If she does not understand she may need the two strokes and then a slightly shorter Tap tap on her croup and then the "walk on".
When she goes forward you will say good and go a few steps and then face your toes toward her toes and say "whoa".
Keep repeating this. It is like a dance. She will associate the two strokes the the two taps with going forward. Pretty soon you will be able to lead her facing forward, but if she is not sure you just give her a soft tap on her barrel.
Again, you are not to make her afraid of the whip. You may want to get Linda's book on T.E.A.M. techniques for this. She also has a DVD on basic leading.
My email is SumnmersDressage@aol.com and my web site is www.Mitzisummers.com if you would like to contact me directly. I have never known this to fail..... but of course timing and technique are important and that takes a while to learn.