|Pennsylvania 7 year old THW ridden in walking
horse bit with abetta saddle by intermediate rider.
Question: I have a lazy horse who really wants to poke along. It is extremely difficult to keep him going. I have used a crop and spurs and he doesn't seem to care, just keeps "smelling the roses" along the way. It is very tiresome to ride him. Also, I cannot work on his gait if he will not pick up any speed!
From Panelist Carol
The secret to putting a little life in your lazy horse probably lies
in how you deliver your "go forward"
cue to him. There is more than one way to effectively train a horse
to go forward; this is how I
do it. Remember, your cues for any movement should be delivered
Second, start squeezing starting with your hips and let the squeeze
travel downward your
If this is the case, read up on establishing your go forward cues from the ground and work it out on the ground before tackling a rearing and/or bucking horse.
Finally, one other very important point to remember is that all cues
must be released the
Thanks for your letter. Hope this helps.
Carol Camp Tosh
From Panelist Lee
While it is nice to have a horse that is not running away with you,
it can certainly be a lot of work to keep one of the "molasses in January"
types moving. Assuming that there is no physical reason for
his laid back approach to life, such as low thyroid or nutritional deficiencies,
it sounds as if this horse needs to learn the "lesson of the leg" and "hands
First, the lesson of the leg. Try this first, if you can,
in an arena or enclosed area -- a corral will work. Acquire a dressage
whip (relatively long). Hold it steady in the hand away from the
rail, the lash behind your leg, the hand even with the horse's withers
and the other hand. You must be able to apply the whip behind your
leg, without moving your hand or pulling on the rein as you use it, which
is why a dressage whip is necessary for
Now for the "legs without hands, hands without legs" part. Ride forward at a fast walk, if possible, with no more than the weight of the reins in your hands, no stronger contact. When he slows down (he will, given his history) squeeze/release with your legs -- if he does not move out again, reinforce this with another single, strong tap from the whip, releasing all contact at the moment you drive him forward. Take up contact with the reins lightly only after he is moving forward with energy, asking him to place his head where you want it. If he slows, again slack off contact and drive him forward with a squeeze/release of your legs, reinforced by the dressage whip if necessary. Do not at any time use your hands to "hold" him at the same time you use your legs to try to move him forward ... the two aids, hands and legs, must be kept separate so they do not cancel one another out.
Once your horse gets the message that a squeeze/release means move out, remember not to squeeze or flop your legs against his side unless you are asking him to move, and try to avoid the habit of squeezing more strongly when he ignores a light pressure with the leg. Use the whip instead of kicking or trying to push him harder with your legs.
Until he is very responsive to the leg at all times, carry the dressage whip when you ride, in case "reinforcement" is necessary. With some practice, he will no longer need to be reminded that leg pressure instantly released means "move out."
Good luck with your horse, and remember that not all TWH have a super fast gait. Take time to develop what gait he is able to do.
From Panelist Erica
Try going back to less and less of a request. Give him a reason (motivation)
to move out when asked. When riding, do not use constant pressure with
your legs when he is moving consistently. When wanting more speed, use
both legs on his sides (tap, tap, tap, tap) until he gives you a noticeable
change of speed. Once he does, reward lavishly!! Repeat. If you start out
with very little leg and slowly work your way up to more of a nuisance
From Panelist Liz
I first recommend checking to see that the saddle is first fitting this
horse, possibly making moving out an uncomfortable place to go. If this
is not the case then it may be time to do some ground work and teach this
horse how to move out from the ground, so it understands how to move away
from pressure and respond to aids, voice being one of
Weave coves do ground poles ask the horse to walk ,back up, and move forward again right out of the back. Keep things coming at this horse so it is much more in tune to you and waiting for the next task. Always reward the horse for each task completed so it looks forward to the next and knows it is doing well.
Back to main page
Ask a Trainer