Originally Posted by pebbs
Thanks. I've often wondered if my gelding was just lazy or what. He gaits nice but isn't speedy. When pushed hard I can feel him stiffen then trot. I usually pull him back down as soon as he stiffens. This again made me wonder was I making him slow/lazy. Reading this confirms I should continue asking for speed gradually.
This past summer we began canter and gallop exercisee and I noticed right away he gaited better (faster) after a run. But would slow back down after a minute or so. Any thoughts?
I've also used trails to speed him up. He likes to lead so if another horse is behind he tends to move out a little more. If he gets passed he won't race the other horse though for lead. If there's a gap he will speed up momentairly to catch up. Its an odd thing though the horses I rode with will stop (much to riders chagrin) to put my gelding in lead.
Stiffening is usualy associated with imbalance (goes along with being out of condition), pain or rider action/ reaction. I do alot of flexion exercises esp while warming up. I mean lateral flexion. Working with polls (or cavelleti) can help strengthen muscles, help a horse to drop his head, flex his back and use his hocks along with a plethera of things... granted he is not expressing pain related stiffness. Be sure that he is relaxed before asking for more speed and that he is working from his hind end and that your not riding off your pockets. (hips rotated to far backwards.) ONce I have them moving pretty square at a lower speed I will rotate my hips forward, give them a touch more rein (not so much as to lose contact) and if I need to, a little bump with my leg. IF they break or hollow out or if thier head/nose goes up or out I will bring them back down, relax them again and start over. If you ask him for more speed before he is round, relaxed, square and balanced he will break apart much quicker, will get frustrated and then eventualy develope bad habits like evasion tactics and a plethera of other things. Also how much leverage your using on the bit can play a role and weather he is dropping shoulders (imbalanced problems and evasion problems) and even the way they are shod/trimmed can affect speed issues.
Sometimes I will let a horse blow out a little (let them travel some at liberty with me mounted) but I always bring them back down and work on keeping them supple, square and round. This falls back on muscle memory.