My boss asked me to work with her coming 4-year-old filly to get her what I call "basic broke," being she knows how to turn, stop, back, and move forward -- no discipline training. She will be used as a string horse at the trail riding facility.
About a week ago I finally put a "real" ride on her. And I tell you -- she is the most dead-sided thing I have ever encountered. I have worked with horses that will have "some sort" of reaction to leg pressure, whether it be paying extra attention or flinching a little bit at this 'new touch system.' This girl stood there as if I didn't apply any pressure at all and she was just standing tied to a fence...
I would usually take her back to the ground and begin spur desensitizing (using a stick or similar object to get her to yield to pressure, as a spur would) and then use the spur while riding, and remove it as time goes on and they respect the pressure more. Or I would use split reins or a crop to give her that little "pat of motivation."
Unfortunately, my boss is against spurs. To her knowledge, using spurs will (and I quote) "make the horse's sides sore. So when a rider comes along without spurs and kicks the horse, it hurts the animal -- and thus the horse bucks them off." She is also against crops and any sort of "whipping" (with the reins, a quirt, over under....) In this situation as aforementioned, I would go to spurs or pat with the reins/a crop while applying the forward cue, as I did with the other horse I worked for her. That horse is now trail riding and has even gone on trotting rides.
The pressure on this girl's face is just fine; she will flex, turn, stop, and back -- the problem is going forward. The fact that I cannot use common resources to help this filly along has me stuck. With a rider, she will not recognize a verbal forward cue either. And yes, she has been "ponied" by someone leading her with a rider and the forward cues have been used, to no avail.
Does anyone have any exercises that will help me teach this filly to recognize and yield to pressure without infringing my boss's spur/whip beliefs?