I have a 5 year old Arab. She sort of fell into our hands (long story) and I don't have that much information on her training. She is very mellow to be so young. I have ridden her some but she has stolen my daughter's heart and is officially her horse (they have a strong bond). We have had her for a year and wasn't even able to get on her back 10 months ago. Now, I will leave my daughter (who is 9) w/ her in the arena to ride w/ my distant supervision. The problem we are having is she will NOT trot! I was riding her in the spring and had worked her up to trotting 5 straight min (don't laugh). Suddenly, she started putting on the breaks. My daughter started riding her so I didn't encourage the trotting from this point but now my daughter is taking lessons on her and we are having no luck. The instructor hopped on today and had no luck either. After 15 min of heavy leg and encouragement, the poor girl (instructor) was wore out. We have come a long way w/ this little horse and feel we are @ a stand still. HELP! I've tried to longe my daughter on the horse and that isn't working either. The horse has put on about 60 lbs since spring and vet said no FATTER! Can this be one of the issues? Any suggestions?
Does she trot on the lungeline? You might try lunging her with a rider, using the lunge whip to add impulsion. A crop or jumping bat may be useful as well. When she does trot, immediately praise her while she's trotting, then bring her back to a walk yourself, don't let her stop herself. Of course, be sure to rule out any physical reasons for her resistance to trotting before pushing her. I'm assuming it isn't only an unbalanced beginning rider, as you say the instructor had similar problems.
Have you changed any tack items? A new saddle may not be as comfortable, or a different bit could be affecting her performance.
We have purchased a new Wintec 500 w/ extra wide gullet. My daughter has used this saddle on her horse and the horse seems much happier w/ this one verses others we've tried in the past. Bit and bridle are the same...rubber snaffle. Today was a good day riding. My daughter just hopped on her bareback. She did get 2 strides out of her @ a trot. That was all. I asked the morning worker if she noticed our horse trotting any to the back of the field anymore and she said, "As a matter of fact, no." I have a feeling some of this is laziness/overweight. From fall thru spring, hay was thrown in the back of the field and when turned out, she's take off for it. But now that grass is so plentiful, she isn't excited to be turned out so therefore she's not doing ANY trotting/cantering at all. That fact just dawned on me a few days ago. There isn't any physical problems that we are aware of except the weight. She has lived the life of a Princess since we have owned her and the thought of work may be too much for her to bear, LOL! So, Vet said to cut her grain back by half and the plan is to increase exercise to drop some pounds. We will be trying the trotting again in a few weeks. Hopefully we will see some changes. Very hot and humid here too. Arabs should be o.kay working in that though right?
Arabs on the whole do reasonably well in hotter weather, just watch her for signs of overexertion or heatstroke, just like any horse in hotter, humid weather.
Until she gets into better shape, walking trail rides do wonders for building muscle and shedding pounds, believe it or not. Work doesn't have to be hard or fast to be effective. To work her up to trotting, you can try trotting her in-hand. Lead her, and hold a dressage whip, lunge whip, or NH stick (your/your horse's preference) in your outside hand and tap her hip as you ask for more speed if she doesn't just follow you. Also, if she picks that up, you can do it with a rider on board to get her going (I do with my horses for my little cousins who are not sure what they're doing or how to cue for a trot)
One more thing that could be hindering her, how tight is her bit adjusted in her mouth? If there is more than one wrinkle at the corner of her mouth, it may be too tight and giving an almost constant "whoa" cue. Ideally, you want just the start of a wrinkle. That has the bit securely in her mouth, but it is "sitting" there, not held there, if you get my meaning.
Glad to hear that you got a few strides out of her. Every little bit is an improvement. Always reward the smallest change and the slightest try.
Something may be hurting her. Have you considered having an equine chiropractor out to inspect her. Their usually not too expensive and she may have something out of alignment that makes trotting uncomfortable and that's why she's resisting. I have an arab and I know from experience that they tend to be very sensitive and one thing out of alignment can really throw them off. Good luck with her =)
Thank you for your insight/suggestions. We did in-hand trotting today w/out my daughter on her back and she was fine. The trails are too buggy so we haven't been out on the hills like we were fall-spring. She has lost her endurance I'm sure. Just typing this out has helped me realize that! My daughter has a lesson this Thursday morning w/ her so I will post again on that progress. Again, thank you! Happy Riding!
The wind of heaven is that which blows between the horse's ears...anonymous