Building a Partnership with Your Horse

Horses need to respect four major ground training commands: “move away from me”, “come
toward me”, “stop”, and “back.” In the last article I gave you the steps for teaching your horse the
“come to me” command. This time we will include the “whoa” command. I am taking this lesson
plan directly from my 6-part Longevity Training Video series where I demonstrate each
maneuver with several young horses.
Before starting, make sure that your horse is properly equipped. He should be wearing a properly
fitting halter, with a longe line, and leg protection. I prefer using a longe line over a lead rope for
ground training, but will use both terms in these articles.
If you are following my recommendations from past articles, you will create a lesson plan for each
of these training sessions. The objective is for the horse to be responsive to your commands on a
loose lead, without any tugging or pulling on the longe or lead. When doing any ground training
maneuver, move with the horse at all times.
No matter what the horse’s age, I introduce these commands first in a confined, familiar location
like stall, round pen, or small paddock. Remove any distractions such as buckets or hay. This will
help him stay focused on you and relaxed. As the horse learns you can then graduate to teaching
him the same lessons in progressively bigger areas such as an aisleway, a round pen, and paddock.
I will give explanations of these maneuvers as if I was teaching them in a stall and from the
horse’s near (left) side. Remember to teach the maneuver from both sides of your horse. Be
patient when working on his off (right) side because the horse from the very beginning of his life
is handled mostly on his left side.
Teaching the “Whoa” Command…
Once your horse understands the command to move forward, it’s time to teach “whoa” or the
command to stop. Start by getting the horse to move forward in response to the “come to me”

command. Be sure you are standing in front, but slightly to the side of your horse so that he does
not walk into you if he does not stop.
As the horse moves toward you, raise your hand in front of his face like a stop sign and at the
same time say “whoa” in a deep, commanding voice. When he stops, praise him with a stroke on
his forehead. Sometimes a horse may be surprised and bring his head up in response to your hand
being held up in front of him. If this happens, use your voice and give him a pet to reassure him.
Ask him to move forward again, just a few steps, and repeat the “whoa” command. Immediately
praise him when he complies. If your horse fails to stop or moves in too close to you, use your
hand on the side of his head to push him away. Do not push him away by pulling against the
longe or lead rope.
Your Next Step…
Everyone has the tendency to steer a horse from his under his head using the lead or by pushing on
the middle of his neck. To truly control a horse’s head, you need to have contact on the middle of
his head. The middle of a horse’s head is half way between his ears and his muzzle, at the jaw
area. It will be close to where the halter’s cheekpiece touches his head. Experiment with your
horse until you find this spot. You will know when you find it because you will be able to move
his head away very easily with the lightest of contact. Your horse will “whoa” quicker when he is
Until then, follow your dreams,
For more information or to schedule your own event, please visit or call 1-
Lynn Palm
Royal Palm Ranch, LTD.
9445 NW 60th Ave.
Ocala, Florida 34482
352-629-3310 – Phone/Fax