A lead shank consists of a leather strap approximately 6 feet long. One end has a section of metal chain with a snap at the tip. The lead shank serves the same purpose as a lead rope; it is commonly used in halter and showmanship competitions. It may be referred to as a stud chain.
Leading With a Lead Shank
Clip the lead shank to the ring that is located on the bottom of the middle of the nose band on your horse's halter. The nose band is the section of the halter that wraps around the horse's nose.
Stand on the left side of the horse. Hold the lead shank in your right hand, directly below the chain section. Hold the excess in your left hand. Do not wrap the leather section of the shank around your hand.
Step forward and apply gentle pressure on the lead shank. The horse should step forward with you. If you need to turn your horse, apply pressure in the direction you want to go by pulling the lead shank. Pull back on the lead shank to stop the horse.
Using the Chain
Use the chain on the lead shank to control your difficult to handle horse. Choose whether to place the lead shank underneath your horse's chin or across the top of his nose; chain placement is a matter of personal preference, though over the nose is considered to be a harsher placement than under the chin.
Attach the chain to your halter by running the snap on the end of your lead shank through the ring on the left side of the nose band and under the chin -- or over the nose -- and clip it to the ring on the right side of the horse's face. Place the chain between the halter and the skin.
Lead your horse as you normally do. Pull or tug on the chain to apply pressure to your horse's nose or chin when he misbehaves. Release pressure when your horse behaves properly.
- Using the chain on a lead shank can be dangerous if done inappropriately. Make sure to always release pressure on the chain when the horse does what you want him to. Do not maintain steady, nonstop pressure on the chain when it is wrapped under your horse's chin or over his nose.
Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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.