Encouragement to get your horse to move? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Encouragement to get your horse to move?

Just purchased a 5 y.o. OTTB. He had an issue with lazyness at the trot, but his lazyness seems to have progressively gotten worse in such a short time. When I first brought him in, he was energetic, pulling on the lead line, and always wanted to go, just unsure about himself at the slower gaits (as he should be). Nowadays it takes us 10 minutes just to walk up to the barn because he is so slow. In about two week's time he's been going downhill. Fast. It makes me wonder if they put him on 'roids before I went out to test ride him.
I know he needs time to relax and learn to be a horse after his track life, but I don't work him hard. Just walk/trot maybe sometimes a canter if I'm lucky for about 20 minutes a day (riding). These rides literally sap all the energy out of me, because I constantly have to drive him with my seat and legs in the hopes that we just make it down the long side of the arena. I try to take him on walks around the property too because I'm wondering if he's just bored, but that's not it. He just plain doesn't listen and couldn't care less. He doesn't disrespect me, he just seems to have no work ethic whatsoever. Today I tried to work him in the round pen, and we trotted for about ten seconds until he realized "why on earth should I do this?" then blatantly ignored my commands. I'm at a loss with what to do. I've never seen a horse so against just moving. I crack a lunge whip on the ground, nothing. I let the end of the whip touch his legs, nothing. I even tied a plastic bag to the end of it today in hopes to encourage him to go. Still nothing. I've seen horses that refuse to move unless you wave a bucket of food in their face, and that's not how I want to encourage my horse to go. Everybody at the barn tells me they'd rather have a quiet horse than one that's uncontrollable but I'm used to the headstrong ones. I know how to train them. I'm planning to put him on supplements to see if that perks him up a bit (wondering if he's still detoxing from the track drugs, but he's been off the track since january). Anybody have any tips on encouraging him to go? I was originally hoping to turn him into an eventer (he has the perfect build for it) but unless his personality drastically changes, I'll be lucky if I can turn him into an extremely lazy hunter.
To answer your questions, yes, I have tried the soft encouragement way and he totally took advantage of me and I couldn't get him to move at all in the first week I got him. Thus, the purchase of a crop. I've had trainers who tell me to literally smack the crap out of a horse, but I'm against that as well as eventually he'll just learn to ignore that. I get after him now and again and we move a little bit better, but that requires me to encourage him with literally every muscle in my body. Now we somewhat move but I really would like to lounge him to encourage a frame and natural gaits. How can I encourage him to move from the ground? Anyone else have an OTTB that's extremely lazy?
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post #2 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 09:42 PM
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A really good exercise to make this horse move out, (not neccessarily faster) is the extended walk. It all begins with the walk & you build from there. Ok I am going to try to explain this to you, sorry I am not the best at explaining instructions but here goes....Sit deep in the saddle with your legs well back of the girth. Elbows in, hands still, do not move your hands during any of this, when I say raise your hand I am referring to a lift from the elbow, that's it. Get him walking, collect him up a bit by raising your hands and applying a squeeze with your calf, if he does not respond, use a dressage whip and tap him by your leg until he does, annoy him like this until he responds. DO NOT INCREASE rein pressure, you just lift. Release when he give to you, then squeeze alternate calves on his sides & push with your seat to drive him forward, alternating squishy fingers on the rein, get a rhythm going. Tap him with the whip at your leg if he lags. Keep on it, it's not stronger cues, just the same annoying ones, eventually he'll move out & you might even get a bit of "air time" in between strides if he has enough shoulder reach. After you get that down, move onto the trot.
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Georgia
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Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
use a dressage whip and tap him by your leg until he does, annoy him like this until he responds. DO NOT INCREASE rein pressure, you just lift. Release when he give to you, then squeeze alternate calves on his sides & push with your seat to drive him forward, alternating squishy fingers on the rein, get a rhythm going. Tap him with the whip at your leg if he lags.
He doesn't care at all for the dressage whip. He just plain ignores it, no matter how many times I tap him with it. I read up somewhere that if you tap a horse lightly with a crop right above his tail it's like a mother's nip and also encourages him to move. He ignores this as well. Being an OTTB and only five, I try not to take a feel of his mouth at all, and for the most part ride him in a nylon bridle that's really just like a halter with attached reins, in the hopes to make riding a more pleasurable experience for him.
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post #4 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 10:08 PM
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Is it possible that he has any health or saddle fitting problems?

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman
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post #5 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Been vet checked, chiropractor checked, and his saddle fits properly. He's not hurting anywhere, and he's always bright eyed and happy about being loved on. Sometimes on our walks around the property I'll go bareback, and even then we'll make it about halfway somewhere, he'll stop and just refuse to move at all. I've had several friends ride with me to try and encourage him to go with them, as well as attempt to pony him along. Still no success.
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post #6 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 10:32 AM
Green Broke
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Location: Southwestern Ontario, Canada
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Are you nagging him?

Step cluck step cluck?

The more a horse is nagged, the less willing to respond it will be. Ask, then tell. If a tug on the lead doesn't get him moving, then a FIRM smack on the shoulder with a crop (butt with a dressage whip). Time to get assertive and be the lead horse. Sometimes you might have to go sideways to get going forwards, but it is still movement.
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 11:41 AM
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I agree with VelvetsAB. If everything else has been ruled out it sounds like he's realized he can call the shots and not get any consequences as a result. If it were me and it was a truly lazy horse, I would put him in the round pen and get after him if he chose to ignore me and do what he pleases. He needs to learn that his every move is because you told him so. Since he does not lunge and jerks on the lead, it makes me think he probably has more to learn about groundwork and respect. How long have you owned him?
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 03:10 PM
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I'm inclined to think it's physical. I actually haven't seen any horses that lazy! There are two I'm thinking of, both turned out to have thyroid problems. (A blood test for that specific problem is recommended.) My own "lazy" pony turned out to be suffering a low-grade founder, his symptoms being, he seemed lazy when I rode.
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post #9 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 05:33 PM
Green Broke
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If you've ruled out everything except being just lazy, you need to get the horse to understand that when you say move, he needs to MOVE!

Whether or not you're on the ground or in the saddle, ask first, suggest second, and tell third. Using a crop, lead rope, whip or reins, you still do it the same way. First, ask by pointing on the ground or squeezing your legs in the saddle. Second, twirl the lead rope, circle the whip or crop, or cluck/kiss to them while squeezing or pointing. If they still don't move, you've given them enough warning to move that they would reach the last stage where they get smacked. You say that you don't want to hit your horse, but sometimes you need to to get your point across. You're not trying to hurt them, just hard enough to get their attention. If they don't move still, you keep smacking them harder until they do move. As soon as they do move, stop everything you are doing and get your body into a relaxed state, even look away from the horse. In time they learn to move from your first asking instead of getting whacked
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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I will give him a smart smack with the crop when i'm on him. And i would love to round pen him, too bad he doesn't listen. He'll completely ignore anything and everything. I'll twirl my lead rope (or sometimes the end of the lunge line) and smack him in the butt and he'll flinch but still not move. The last time I took him in there i literally went and smacked his butt with my hand to get him to move but still nothing. He just scooted around in place as opposed to moving like I ask him to. I don't nag him, I know better. My theory is similar to what usandpets said, i just call them "ask, tell, make." problem is when i'm on the ground there is no "making." Even if i graze him with the end of the lunge whip he just plain doesn't care. I think I'll try riding him in the round pen with somebody standing in the middle so he hopefully gets the idea.
I had bloodwork done on him before i bought him, as he did have strangles over a year ago and everything checked out well, though i don't know if they tested for thyroid problems (barn owner has the bloodwork papers on file now)
@ Atmoic, he doesn't jerk on the lead line, he tugged a little the first day i got him but now he's extremely quiet and i've taught him manners. Finally just got the hang of picking up his last foot for me! He knows I'm his mom and better than to mess with me, which I can get after him when he's close to me but when he's the what ten feet away in a round pen he ignores me. I could smack him all day and i really don't think it would make him move, in fact it would probably just make him kick me. lol.
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