Getting my Mare to move forward - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Getting my Mare to move forward

I recently bought my first horse in over 20 years. (my last one I had for 19 years and unfortunately she died last year)

Pandora is 3 and we are starting to do a bit of work I will be mouthing her at the weekend and then go on to long reining her a couple of weeks after that.

Shes an Irish cob x ISPH, she's so laid back and you can literally crawl between her legs and under her belly and she'd just stand there. (not that I would recommend doing that to anyone!).

So today I went up to start her on the lunging part. Before I started I did all the usual stuff like picking her feet up and tapping her legs with the rope and that, I did a little rope twirling around her head sides, back and front (she always just stares at me like I've gone soft in the head and ignores the rope in the air. lol)

So I put on the line and and rub her all over with the whip, tap her under her belly, back legs, and give her scratches on the face, neck etc with it.

I step back and ask her to `walk on` not an entirely new command but not one she's done without me being to the side or in front of her (I am well used to lunging so not being overly specific with describing my body posture here). She looks at me but stands, so I step back and to her rear to drive her forwards while facing her with my body at the front end to block her moving towards me and wave the whip towards her back end. Nothing.. she just stands and looks at me like I've just given her a really good back rub.

So I try tapping her with the whip repeatedly on her back end, clucking my tongue and asking her to walk on while blocking her with my stance and she still stands there like a huge mountain and I SWEAR she's just like, `what, it's so nice standing here in the sun, come give me more scritches.`, she yawns and continues to stand.

I will obviously enlist the help of some poor unsuspecting person to come help me get her used to the idea of lunging while she's being led, but I really don't want to actually use a lot of force to get her going as I will hopefully be mostly using voice commands and leg aids.

She's a lovely quiet mare, I've yet to see anything that spooks her or upsets her, and shes totally the temperament that I am looking for, I want a nice safe happy hacker not a fizzed up ball of 15.3 horse leaping around underneath me.
Any suggestions, as waving things/tapping her with a stick does not work and at some point I am going to have to get her to trot. (Perhaps I was a bit too thorough with the sacking out process!)

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post #2 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 10:09 AM
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There is a fine line between 'laid back, easy going, non-spooky and quiet' and 'dull, unresponsive, lazy and dense'.

While a quiet sensible horse is very nice to ride, a dull and unresponsive one is about as much fun to ride as broomstick.

You need to put enough pressure on her to make her responsive. If she is unresponsive at this point, you need to teach her that it is in he best interest to lesten and respond rather than ignore and not respond at all.

'Making' her move on out is not going to turn her into a lunatic. NOT making her move out will let her become an unresponsive 'dud' that no one will want to ride. You will have to nag and beg for every little movement. You will have to work harder than her on a ride.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 10:56 AM
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Have you tried using a long lunge line and twirling the excess to move her off? I always start off with the line rather than the whip, often more "sensitive" horses react better to this. If they don't move off when I twirl it, I will coil the excess and "toss it" toward the horses back end, reeling it back in once they move off. If they don't react to either I bring out the whip, but I don't physically hit a horse with a whip unless I am in danger is some way and I'm protecting myself. I have found that the sound of a whip cracking is often a very good way to cue them to move off when they ignore your initial request. Of course your ultimate goal is to train the horse to very subtle commands, but given your green beans young age and inexperience you have to start off less subtle and then work toward finesse. My gelding definitely leans more toward the "lazy" side, and I really had to work to get him to be responsive as a youngster, but now he is trained to lunge on voice and hand signals, whether he is free lunging or not. He'll walk, trot, canter, change direction, and whoa.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick responses,

Cherie, she's definitely not dull, lazy or dense. when she learns something she responds very well, eg her backing up has progressed to a light tap to her chest and voice command instead of my palm.

This is new to her, she doesn't know what I am asking and I don't want to get too forceful with her. If she knew what I was asking and refused to do that, I would certainly ask her in a sharper way.

She's very quickly learning to move away from my palm too when pressed against where the leg aids will be. She will also turn on the forehand and haunches and side step when asked with pressure/leadrope. She's not brilliant at it, but I don't expect her to be yet.

I guess what I am trying to do/say is that I want to keep things nice and calm when I work with her, not wave and carry on like a lunatic to get her to do something because she's been frightened into it; but I guess my sense of humor didn't help when I posted that.

Jacksmama; Nope I haven't tried that but will definately give it a go, I have one of those long ropes with a leather tie I could use. I just wish I'd brought a spare line with me today. I'll be taking a friend along next time to teach her to stay out on the circle and practice walk and woah.

My last girl was a speedy, very responsive lady who I broke to ride/drive and we just got so used to each other, it's certainly different to get used to another after a 19 year partnership but it's been fun so far. :)
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 03:16 PM
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Start with a ground helper. The helper stands on the horses left and you are set up to lunge her to the right (so helper is on outside of lunge line circle, you are inside). You cluck and say clearly "Walk on" then wave lunge whip at horses butt. Idea is lunge line is in your right heand "leading" her nose, lunge whip is in your left hand "pushing" her butt - so in effect you are "herding" the horse where you want her to go.

Upon your uttering the "WALK on" command the helper immediately walks forward (has hold of halter on outside), asking horse to move forward. If horse is attentive to "leader" (i.e. YOU) horse will step forward with handler (following the herd - i.e. your handler). So after about 1/2 circle you say "Whoa" while at same time stop pointing lunge whip at horses butt. Handler halts and asks horse to halt at same time.

Don't forget to do BOTH directions, and don't assume because they understand one direction they will automatically understand both directions. Once you can ask horse for walk and halt (consistently) had Handler stop touching halter, once that is good have handler stay away from horse and work her yourself. Horse will probably try to walk towards you - I then place lunge line at horses chest to "push" them to end of lunge line.

Don't attempt trot or canter until you have a consistent walk/Whoa without a helper.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 03:38 PM
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Start lunging her on a much smaller circle, so you are much more able to put pressure on. If she will move her shoulders over when you press on them then push her shoulders away from you so that her side is presented to you, thus you have access to her "driveline", that area at about the girth line where pressure put in front moves a horse back and pressure put behind, movees a horse forward.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-06-2011, 11:45 PM
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Well I hate to tell you this but in the horse world your horse is just saying "hey you don't make me move because you are below me" don't be fooled they are smarter than you think. You need to gain some respect from her and you will NEED to increase pressure to make her move...I suggest you start with her at free liberty in a round pen and use a lunge whip to crack behind her...don't be scared to turn up the heat you need to move this horses feet and heres why. In the horse world whoever "moves" who is the boss. So I see this mental picture of you running all over the place trying to get her to budge and she is thumbing her nose at you saying yeah right your not my boss. Put her in a round pen and use the whip to make her move...that doesn't mean you ever have to hit her. Quite the contrary...horses respond to the "intention" of pain being inflicted because they are smart (watch how the pinning of the ears or the threat of a kick tells lower horses to move outta the herd bosses way-seldom does the boss have to follow through). This mare thinks you are beneath her. Sure she listens to you when she wants she is still in control. You MUST get her moving out around you while you do little more than turn and apply the needed pressure to teach her to listen to you ALWAYS...not just when she feels like doing so. Step one in training a horse is getting it to need to get her moving smoothly at a walk, then a trot, then a lope on your command and cue not when she feels like doing it. This is the basis for controlling her when you finally get on her...she needs to learn to move forward when you ask and she needs to learn to stop when you ask...IF you don't start getting her to move by applying pressure...this laid back easy going animal WILL turn into a bratty, pushy, jerk who you won't like as much. Once they start topping you it is all down hill from go in their like you are the boss and MAKE her move, it's not being mean or cruel, it's taking the leadership role...and if you want a well mannered, pleasurable horse you MUST take the leadership role...
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-07-2011, 05:47 AM
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I suspect that you are no push over and perfectly capable of moving a horse if you think it's being pushy or domineering. Here you do not consider that his horse is just being lazy. I might be wrong but that's just the immediate impression I get.

There are two 'less overpowering' ways to improve the situation.

The first is as Valentina said, with a helper. That's an excellent way. Lunging in the traditional sense should actually be performed with at least two people and in a straight line at first. For several reasons. Unfortunately much of this has been forgotten these days. If you use this way then just make sure you cue first, and your helper then reinforces the cue if the horse fails to respond. The only thing I would correct is the cue. I know that no cues are 'natural' but from an ease of understanding do not cue the rump. A cue to move on comes from the wither as does the drive once you are actually lunging.

The second method is also accurate which is as per Tinys post. Ie begin in closer range and send the shoulder away (again the wither is the drive) then continue to drive to keep her going until she is out on the circle. Just remember to always ask for a straight stop and not a turn in.

Given the desensitisation you have been doing, and also your relaxed demeanour it is most likely just a communication and motivation issue. That will be easy to sort out. Just remember that you need to up your energy a little perhaps. Relaxed is great when you want stand still, but move needs some presence. The easiest way to imagine is if you had a hose coming out of your core (ie just below your navel) . Point it away and slow the flow for stop, stand still etc. Point it at the drive region and turn the tap on for action!

I agree, it's always easier to speed a horse up than slow it down. Horses aren't lazy we just sometimes make them dull and take away any desire to co-operate. Then people kick and slap and everything else to try to make them go, when really it's very simple. Stop trying to make them go.......... I learned that lesson from the first horse I ever had. A loan 16.2 Welsh Cob. Built like the side of a barn. So wide and fat she was like a tabletop, it was simply impossible to fall off. Pushed everyone out of her way and even the riding instructor couldn't get her to move or keep gait. Believe me they'd tried. The scar tissue ( I have photos somewhere) from I can only presume spurs was awful. I never tried to make her go. I never had to. We went everywhere, miles and miles all over the country, she lost weight and muscled up,and as to this very day I never carried a whip or anything that could be used to pressurise her. People had made her bolshy and dull. What she wanted was someone who understood that too and she would do anything for you. Sorry lecture and reminiscing over
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-07-2011, 12:41 PM
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Seems to me she's doing pretty much exactly what you've taught her to do. Nothing.

This is the reason I no longer desensitize a horse... It is counter productive. The horse doesn't get confidence from repetition, it gets confidence from me (or whoever the leader is).

Since it's done... There are two suggestions here that I would try. If you have the help... Start with two people... At this point it Will make more sense to your horse.

The second is to work closer to the horse, and start by standard leading. Increase the tempo until you and the horse are both moving with the amount of energy you want (ideally this would be tracking up for the horse)... Now gradually move away from the horse while continuing to move forward. If she slows down come closer and get her back up to rhythm. Be sure to praise the good work, and not get too upset if it takes her some time to figure you out. Once she's going while you are walking 10' away, try a circle... Keep moving with her at first... When she seems to be getting it, let her take the line and go out on a larger circle.

Strong leading makes for the basis of all else you will do with your horse. You should be leading on a slack lead, and the horse following your body ... Not just being "dragged" around on a rope.

Aside from that... Two spots which horse's seem to respond well to, for pressure, is the base of neck(wither) and base of tail. To the horse it seems these two spots have certain meaning. Mares will use the base of tail... To move another horse, Or to change the energy of another horse.(she can calm a horse or amp it up at will... Depending on how the spot is used)

Stallions (this includes geldings.. They are still hardwired like stallions they just can't breed) will more often use the base of neck. They do it to exert dominance, to make a horse move or in play.

Either of these spots will mean more to your horse than just cracking the whip at her... Or aiming for her legs, hip or body.
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