Secrets of the Snubbing Horse


Age-Old Tradition Making a Comeback

I would like to throw a tip or two out on the table about using a snubbing horse. A snubbing horse can either be an excellent tool or the exercise can turn into a train wreck before the good Lord gets the news. Ask yourself if you’re leading or dragging your side mount with your snubbing horse. An honest answer will tell you where you are with your colt.

cowboyway0811_01_250I want to be certain the colt is sacked good enough from prior ground work or roping that I can slide a halter on from my snubbing horse with no resistance to speak of.
cowboyway0811_02_250Next, I bring my lead to the inside of the colt/horse/pack animal I’m leading and pick up with a slight bit of pressure on the lead.
cowboyway0811_03_250As I continue, I ask my snubbing horse to move his front quarters into the rear quarters of the colt being snubbed. I continue to hold pressure on the lead rope until the colt yields its hind quarters. My goal is to have the colt roll his rear end under while giving to the pressure of the lead and rope halter. In addition I’m using my snubbing horses’ physical motion to make a suggestion towards the colt’s rear end.

cowboyway0811_04_250When the colt yields its rear end, I remove pressure from the rope halter and the snubbing horse. After the colt squares back up like in the photo above, I turn my focus now to the front quarter.

cowboyway0811_05_250I offer a suggestion to the colt with my hand as to move away and I continue to push the front quarters of the horse with my snubbing horse.
cowboyway0811_06_250The colt will eventually lead off nice and gentle like in the photo above. (Note: if the colt balks and attempts to nose out or pull back as you lead off (and they will) don’t drag them off with force. Instead, roll your snubbing horse back into the colts’ rear quarters, roll the rear end under as you did in the beginning, bring the front end back across by pushing the front quarters and give the colt an opportunity to lead off again.
cowboyway0811_07_250Every so often forget about snubbing and leading. Stop, let the colt rest and continue to sack your colt out and get the boogers out of him.
cowboyway0811_08_250When you can honestly say you can bring the rear end under and the front end across on both sides from atop of your snubbing horse and lead them off from both sides, bring your colt up under a rider or obstacle on the fence and let them set on the colt as in the photo above. Make this a good place to be for the horse.
cowboyway0811_09_250Naturally, when you trust your work you can go for a little spin as in this photo.

Remember, you’re the Captain of the ship, everyone is depending on you. Be certain you have done your homework, groundwork, and more work, before snubbing and leading a rider off. The snubbing horse WILL NOT prevent the colt from bucking. Allow the herd instinct to work for you, not against you. Fix things up so that following the snubbing horse off is a good place to be for the colt.

A few other tips to consider:

Remember when snubbing you’re creating a herd environment. You might not always be on the dominant horse.

Be mounted real well on a seasoned horse. My snubbing horse, Cutter, is 19 years old, he is an old man’s horse and on full automatic leg cues.

Take a whole bunch of solo leads before snubbing a rider.

Be careful what you get in the pen with. I’ve seen mares that would kick the front end out from underneath your snubbing horse. I have also seen young stud colts end up in my lap or on my saddle cantle. And the worst is when they attempt to floss their teeth on your chaps.

A snubbing horse is just one of many tools to use. Nothing works all the time. Never be ashamed to try a different approach or tool when the first choice fails.

Always remember: “There’s one bit that works on all horses, a bit of knowledge.”

Until we meet again I hope the good Lord blesses you, your family and your livestock.

Photos courtesy AQHA