Michigan 3 year old Tennessee Walking Horse with 90 days Professional Training. Ridden in snaffle and Wintec Dressage in small ring, trails by adv beginner.

Question: My horse dogwalks well at home in the pen, but out on the dirt roads, where there's distractions, he tends to pick up his pace.  I've been gently making contact with his mouth,and releasing it, rolling back my seat and saying walk, it works in the pen to slow him to a dogwalk, and occasionally works when riding out of pen, any suggestions?

From Panelsit Lee

It is normal for a young horse to get a little excited when he is out in the world.  Just be prepared for this.   Keep on doing what you are doing, assuming you are trying to get him to dog walk.  Be sure to release any leg or seat tension as soon as he slows, don't keep rolling your seat back when he dog walks in response or he will think that you want something else because you are in a way nagging him with your seat.  Be sure to breathe out and relax your lower back and belly when he slows as a reward, as well.

When he speeds up again, repeat the process, seat back, take and release on the reins, breathe out.  It also helps to talk quietly to the horse and ask him to keep his head down and relaxed with light downward tremors on the reins from time to time.

Sounds as if you are on the right track ... keep going!

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Liz

 This is a very normal response for a young horse with so little time under saddle. It sounds like you are doing the right thing now in giving him the slow down signal. I may also ask for him to do some other lateral exercises out in the open such as shoulders in and out,
making some nice circles to keep him waiting and listening for guidance from you. It may also help to go out riding with another horse that is nice and slow and teach him to ride beside another horse , not ahead or behind right now, so he can learn to hold a nice slow
pace. This just takes time and more miles for a young horse. Keep up the good work.


From Panelist Stella

You're dealing with a young 3 year old, but have the expectations for a mature, "been there, done that" horse! I think if you gently do what you've been doing...calm, reassure him with a positive stance,just "remind" him(rather than discipline)what gait you had asked for to regain his attention to you, and just keep reviewing the same trails a few times before going on new ones(maybe start the session with familiarity), he will come around with the repetition.

Quite frankly, I'm always pleased to have a youngster so enthusiastic to go forward on a new trail; believe me, its an indication of a much better future trail horse than one fearful to go forward, that you must nudge and continually give reassurance to in new surroundings. With a youngster like this, its important to have some leeway,sensitivity, rather than a hard 
"black and white" attitude that is more appropriate to a far more experienced horse..there will come a point where "the looking and wonder" is over, that this will be appropriate. Meanwhile, you do not want to "kill" his "volunteerism" and willingness, positive attitude to trying new things...this you want to cultivate, so while maintaining parameters, they don't have to be so "hard and fast" at this point, you can "rein them in" gradually as time and experience go on. It sounds more like you have a gem! 

So keep the "shine" polished....


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