The Simple Bow


It’s fun to teach a simple bow to use at the beginning and end of a movement routine. The bow itself becomes a clue for the horse that a chain of tasks is about to begin and equally it tells him when the chain of tasks is finished.

We can teach the simple bow by capturing any downward movement of the head with a click&treat. Or we could use ‘luring’ while changing our posture as we put a treat on the ground, plus add a voice signal.


The horse mimics the handler’s bow from the waist by lowering his head, then raising it again.


Horse and handler are clicker savvy.


This clip uses the process of luring, which is detailed in the thin-slicing steps below.

#269 HorseGym with Boots: Simple Bow.

These two clips show the process of free-shaping.

#257 HorseGym with Boots Head Lowering 1.

#258 HorseGym with Boots: Head Lowering 2. Putting it on signal.


  • A training area where the horse is relaxed and ideally can see his buddies, but they can’t interfere.
  • It can help to park the horse on a mat, if he knows about mats, to let him know that moving his feet is not required. 


When we use the luring with food system, we will be placing a treat on the ground and we don’t want to put it on sand or loose dirt. If that is all you have available, perhaps use a mat or similar on which to put the treat.

SLICES (for teaching with luring)

  1. Stand the horse in a spot where he feels comfortable; click&treat. Maybe have his front feet parked on a mat.
  2. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the horse; click&treat.
  3. Practice a bit of duration standing quietly together at zero intent with head forward; click&treat for x number of seconds, depending on where you are with developing this task.
  4. Quietly remove a treat from your pouch or pocket, ideally during a moment the horse is busy eating his previous treat, so he doesn’t notice you getting the treat.
  5. Show the horse the treat in your hand then bow from the waist to put the treat on the ground for the horse to find.
  6. Wait until he lifts his head and has eaten the treat. Repeat, adding a voice signal to go with your body language. If you’ve previously taught head-lowering you may already have a voice signal.
  7. Once the horse responds to your body language and voice signals, click as the head goes down, but feed the treat as the head comes up again as you straighten your body. For this we don’t want ‘duration’ of keeping the head down.
  8. Teach on both sides of the horse.


  1. Practice in many different places.
  2. Practice around different distractions.
  3. Incorporate into any routines you do as ‘begin’ and ‘end’ points.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.