05-30-2010, 11:51 PM
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Hey Smattles, I have a horse in training at the moment with very similar issues. She will stop dead in her tracks, almost as if she has forgotten how to go forwards at all. After trying to be as persuasive as I could with heels and crop (and I can be VERY persuasive), I realized I was doing nothing more than setting the scene for a battlefield as her behaviour escalated to rearing and spinning, at one point nearly taking both of us over the side of the arena fence.
Some horses can be encouraged forwards with slightly more 'aggressive' riding tactics, others do not respond and not even the biggest whip in the world will get them to move forwards. It sounds like you have a horse that falls into the latter category, as do I.
I found that jumping off (when she eventually stood calmly) and putting her on the lunge line helped her to remember how to move forwards without the associated battle. Once she was moving forwards comfortably and calmly in all paces, I hopped back on. She stopped dead again within 6 strides. I hopped off and repeated the lunging routine. This time I got back on and she moved off calmly, like nothing had ever happened and worked well for the rest of the ride.
Normally I wouldn't advocate solving a riding issue by getting off and lunging however with a horse that really won't move forwards I find it is an effective technique that avoids an outright battle. If at all possible it is good to avoid battlescenes with horses as the battle itself is counter productive to most training regimes.
P.S. "Backing up" is not only dangerous, it also is the wrong way to go about training such a horse. The problem is they won't move forwards, therefore moving backwards is not a desireable option as it will never teach them to move forwards when their feet get "stuck".