Horses need and thrive on leadership. Our work with horses is as a team, but they either must be led, or they will lead us. The leader is usually determined in the first few seconds of our encounter, and the maneuvering to see who is leading whom might go on during the entire encounter, depending on the horse. More important than controlling for the trainer is to be in control. In control over oneself. When a horse understands that you are calm and have a sense of direction it will willingly give you that leadership. Horses bestow leadership on the leader of the herd because that horse has demonstrated empathy, looking after the needs of the other horses, and a steadfastness and assurance that the leader will be in charge and do what is necessary to protect the herd. Leadership is assertive, not aggressive. Leadership is not a right – it is earned.
Leadership to Yielding: Horses will naturally yield to what we are asking them to do if we can establish that we are the leader of the team.
Catherine Swan and Avalon 2020