How to Train a Horse to Pull a Cart

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    • 1). Ensure that your horse already has all the basics--things like walking calmly on a lead, turning when you ask and stopping on command. If your horse needs work on these basics, go back to your groundwork training and continue until your horse has mastered the basics.

    • 2). Attach a surcingle strap around your horse's middle. This strap is designed to go around your horse, right behind his front legs. The strap has a number of rings attached to it, and the long lines will be run through those rings.

    • 3). Attach one of the long lines to the side of your horse's halter and run it through the ring on the surcingle strap. Attach the other long line to the other side and run it through the ring on the other side. Extend the long lines so that they are behind the horse on opposite sides.

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      horse image by Penny Williams from

      Stand a few feet behind the horse and urge him to move forward a few feet. Then give a firm "whoa" command, pulling back firmly on the long lines if your horse does not respond. Eventually you want your horse to stop with your voice command alone, but it can take some time to build the association between the spoken "whoa" and the action of the long lines.

    • 5). Encourage your horse to move forward, using the lunge whip for encouragement if necessary. Make sure the horse is moving straight, and be sure to work with your "whoa" commands every couple minutes. This will help to establish the voice cue and it will also help to keep your horse's attention.

    • 6). Work on turning your horse by pulling on the long line in the direction you want to turn. Work on large sweeping turns at first, then progress to smaller and tighter turns. Make sure the horse is comfortable bending both ways.

    • 7). Stand on a solid piece of wood and urge your horse to move forward in the long lines. Only progress to this step after your horse has mastered turning and stopping with you walking behind him. You can use a piece of scrap wood--just make sure it is sturdy and large enough for you to stand on.This will give the horse the feeling of pulling something behind him, while making it easier to stop if the horse becomes panicked. You should only progress to pulling an actual cart after the horse has thoroughly mastered all the skills he will need to pull that cart safely.

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