Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northern Illinois
I wouldn't worry about being too dependent on a crop, or being too harsh. When used correctly, they are very good teaching tools.
I used to ride a paint gelding, laziest horse I have ever ridden, no joke. Some people can't even get this horse to walk, let alone canter or gallop.
I started riding him, and I used a crop to get him to listen. I do the same for any horse that is ignoring my cues, but I always ask in the same order.
1. Ask normal for a trot/canter or for forward movement. Soft cue with your calf/rein
If no response:
2. Ask harder, a sharp jab in the ribs with your heels is usually what I do.
If no response:
3. At this point I am determined to get this horse to move, which is where the crop comes in. He gets a hard, quick whack on the butt or shoulder, depending. I've never had to go past this step to get a horse to move.
When he does move, I take off all that pressure and let him move.
The next time I ask for forward movement, I do the same 3 steps in order, always assuming he will just listen with the first step, and never using the crop until I give him a chance to listen to my slight cues. With most horses, just knowing that you are serious and will use a crop is enough to get them to move off the slight cues, step 1.
I had that paint gelding cantering, bareback in a halter without a crop after only a few weeks, off slight cues. Other people still have trouble getting him to just trot, but if you prove you are serious to the horse, they will take you serious and eventually, hopefully, you won't have to use a crop anymore. The whole goal of a training device, to me, is to get to the point where you no longer need to use it, and the horse still listens to you, that's when you know you've used it properly.
** Don't be the rider who gallops all night and never sees the horse that is beneath him **