I'm curious about teaching my horse to lie down. I was hoping someone on here could give me an effective, gentle method that works consistently and easy to communicate.

As some background, I'm not a horse trainer, but I have watch the natural horse training videos extensively and have been working on issues with our horses for several years. I've taught them all to trailer load quietly, including one that almost hurt my mother several times and had a bad habit of running out backwards and hitting his head on the top when his back feet went off and he jerked his head up. He no puts on two feet and pauses till you ask him to get all the way on. He backs off the same way. I've also trained two geldings from the day they were born till first ride.

Something that has always eluded me is teaching a horse to lie down. I've attempted it multiple times over the years. I know there can be problems, like them trying to randomly lie down when you don't wish them to. However, I'd like the ability to teach if I so choose.

I have a one leg hobble and attempted to use it to teach a horse we used to have. I bound up one of his front legs. The one leg hobble isn't tight, it's comfortable, but it prevents them from putting their leg down. It's similar to people who put a soft rope around that foot and wrap the rope around the belly. After hobbling the one front leg, I used a rope halter and a long lead line. I'd already practiced following the feel of the rope extensively with him. I had the line on the off-side of his body from the hobble, and around his butt. I put pressure on the rope till he was bound up and waited for him to try and find his way out of it by rocking and bringing his knee to the ground. However, this wasn't my horse and he hadn't been taught to think his way through a situation. Instead of lying down, he reared up and flipped over. After a couple of times of this I quite. Even though we were in a grassy field with no stones, I didn't want him to hurt himself.

I later tried this same method with one of my colts. However, he might be a little too smart. When I bound him up, instead of panicking or lying down, he shifted his weight to the back and did a small spin in place, freeing himself up. I tried several more times and he kept doing it.

I'd like a better method. I haven't tried it, but I've got a dvd of a trick trainer who teaches them to put their front feet on a marker and uses a carrot to lure them lower and lower till they have to put a leg down to get to it.

I don't want to tie my horse up and yank his legs out from under him. That defeats the purpose of what I'm trying to do, which is to gain even more trust from them. I can walk out in the pasture while they're sleeping and sit on them. They aren't scared to lie down near me. I just don't know how to cue it in a way that's easy for them to understand and I don't have the tools in my arsenal to fix the issues they have. Or the knowledge to use them.

Any help you guys can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.

1 Answer 1


Have you ever heard of Clicker Training ?

It works with positive reinforcement. First you condition your horse (or dog) that every time it hears the "click" (a sound which should always be the same) a treat follows (most of the time it is food). Then you can use the Click at the exact time your horse does something right, and then give him the treat. It is best if you do these first steps with a trainer on site.

If you and your horse know how the Clicker Training works, you can train him to do every kind of trick. Starting with lifting his leg on touch, shaking his head, to rearing or lying down.

A friend of mine taught her horse to lie down. She always puts him in the riding arena after riding so he can roll in the sand. It is routine for them. To teach him to lie down on command, she just went in when he was going to roll and clicked just as he touched the floor. He then waited for his treat lying on the floor. After a few times she said the command before he could lie down, to link her words with the action. Now he can lie on command.

  • Hey, I do know about clicker training and use it with my dog. However, I don't have an area and can't reliably count on him to lie down. I will think on it and see if I can figure a way to incorporate it, though.
    – Dalton
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 19:22

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