Horse just won't go

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Horse just won't go

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    01-17-2012, 06:14 PM
Horse just won't go

I've met a horse that has a whole new problem that I've never run into. When I get on him, he has a soft, responsive mouth, he responds to leg-cues for turning. He has a lovely whoa. He clearly knows what he's supposed to do. He just plods along with his head low, dragging his feet. He goes slower and slower. I keep nudging him with my seat, applying leg pressure, and finally having to start kicking him to keep going. Getting him collected is completely out of the question, since we kind of need to be moving forward to have anything to collect. Trying to get him over cavalettis from the ground is even next to impossible. He just drags his feet and knocks everything over. He's not an old horse, by any means. How do we get out of 1st gear? I have not tried a crop or spurs on him.
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    01-17-2012, 06:25 PM
One of the first things I would do is have him checked out by a vet. There may be something that is causing him pain and making him reluctant to move. Horses like that will often explode if they are pushed too hard. Also, double check your tack fit, it is possible that the saddle is pinching him somewhere and making him hurt when he moves out.

How does he move in turnout or on the lunge line without tack? Does he move out comfortably at all 3 gaits?
    01-17-2012, 06:33 PM
Once you have ruled out pain like smrobs said...

Try using a whip to back up your leg. Preferably a dressage whip since a crop is short and can't reach the hind without you having to stretch back and compromise your position.

Desensitize the horse to the whip before climbing on. Sack the horse with the whip.. lunge with the whip asking for more forward motion.. until he understands what it is.

On him, give the cue softly, then a little more firm, (no kicking) after no response, tickle with the whip. If he responds, praise and keep going. If he slows down again, ask with a soft leg cue.. no response.. whip tickle.

Now if he blows off your whip, then use it more directly. If he doesn't feel the tickles or blows them off, turn around there and whack him on his hind end until he moves. Make sure you don't say a word and you keep quiet and with him. You don't know how he's going to react to it.

But after you use the whip, and he responds... and then starts to slow, use your leg and give the cue softly. Don't just rely on the whip. The whip should back up your leg.

Also if YOU haven't used a whip before, practice holding it with your reins and don't get on until you can handle it without accidentally swatting him.

Now... if pain is not present... you need to do more groundwork. Get him to move.. with more energy. If you need help or not sure what to do with that, seek a trainer and ask on the forum :)

Good luck
    01-17-2012, 07:02 PM
I've ridden with a dressage whip for 40 years, so I'm comfortable with it. I'm not ready to use it on this horse however, because he doesn't move from the ground either. He does the same thing from the ground without tack. When he wants to move, his gait is smooth and he moves freely - until he decides that he doesn't want to move anymore. Here's what I'm unsure of. How do we make a horse move from the ground when he doesn't want to. I've always been taught not to use the lunging whip on them - only a crack behind them. That has no effect on him. He lacks respect. He knows he can stop/slow down, and "Well - whatcha going to do, huh?". Delightful. I know that I need to make obeying my command uncomfortable and obeying it comfortable,. How to I make slowing down uncomfortable from the ground?
    01-17-2012, 08:42 PM
Well if he doesn't respond to your body cues and any kind of pressure or voice or leg.. then maybe he needs a good swat with a leadrope. Then try those other cues again. Just make sure you do rule out any pain or health issues.

Do you just ride him or did you just buy him? What's the story there?
    01-17-2012, 08:45 PM
If pain is not an issue then he needs to develop a work ethic and get physical. A swat with a riding crop maybe a tool in developing that ethic.
    01-17-2012, 08:48 PM
Unfortunately, you do sometimes get those horses that a warning with a whip/rope just isn't enough and they sort of "laugh it off". I have always found it's a lot easier to just follow the horse use of force continuum: Ask, tell, demand.

Verbal/body cues, a little more obvious cues, flick the rope/whip at their butt, then if they don't respond, give them a good whap or whatever it takes to get the desired reaction. You do this every single time, and he'll start responding with less and less pressure. Same thing from the saddle: light squeeze, heavier squeeze, bumping legs, then a whip to the ass.

If you just stay firm, fair, and consistent, he'll soon be responding beautifully to the slightest squeeze of your legs.
    01-17-2012, 08:53 PM
Sounds like he has an iron deficiency. Give him a spur bath and he should get better in no time
beau159, waresbear, Goosey and 1 others like this.
    01-17-2012, 09:26 PM
Sounds like most of you are recommending the same things. Thanks. Makes perfect sense. I'm pretty sure I already knew that, but needed to confirm that I was on the right track before I do anything stupid. I assume the key to making these things work is repetition, patience, and consistency. It's not my horse. I'm helping a friend with this horse. Since I'm not very familiar with him, I'm not about to give him the whack on the behind or correct his iron deficiency from the back quite yet, since I don't know how he's likely to respond. Baby steps... We have time.
AmazinCaucasian likes this.
    01-17-2012, 09:34 PM
Originally Posted by AmazinCaucasian    
Sounds like he has an iron deficiency. Give him a spur bath and he should get better in no time

That's what my trainer said about Selena. "Iron deficiency. She might need some spur injects straight to the heart."

Again, if pain is not an issue, I would just be opening up a can of whoop ass. Get a long swatter, and over-and-under his little rabbit butt until he'll be GLAD to move when you just barely ask.

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