The term "trotting in hand" refers to a horse that has been taught to trot on command while being lead with a halter and lead rope or shank. The majority of well trained horses require very minimal training to master trotting in hand and it is a useful skill that comes in handy during a variety of situations.
Trotting In Hand
When you ask your horse to trot in hand, you are asking him to trot while you lead him. Because the trot is a faster gait, you will have to either jog or run alongside your horse while he trots. Trotting in hand is a skill that is commonly taught to young horses before they are old enough to be broken to ride. It is often taught after the foal is taught how to lead but before the horse is taught to work on a lunge line or in a round pen.
Training Your Horse
A horse who is responsive to pressure when it is applied to the lead will learn how to trot in hand very quickly. You teach your horse to trot in hand by standing on the left side of the horse with your right hand holding the lead rope a few inches below the snap and the excess lead rope in your left hand. You will start out by speeding up your own pace to a jog and applying forward pressure on the lead. If desired, you may want to add a verbal cue for trot, such as a clucking noise, kiss or a specific word.
The Purpose of Trotting In Hand
Trotting in hand is required if you show your horse in showmanship and halter classes. These show classes are performed while the horse is being lead and the horses are required to trot during the class to demonstrate their skills, gaits, soundness and responsiveness to commands. Trotting in hand is also useful for observing the movement of a horse that is experiencing leg or soundness issues.
If your horse does not understand the concept of responding to pressure on the lead, you will have to work with him before he will understand he is supposed to trot when you pull him forward. If your horse trots faster than you can run, you may have to teach him to regulate his gait to match your own. Make sure to stay in the correct leading position and try not to cross in front of your horse or pull him backwards without meaning to.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.