Horse refuses to move forward

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Horse refuses to move forward

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    06-28-2009, 12:36 AM
Horse refuses to move forward

I have had my horse for a year now. When I first began riding her, she did not move forward. Rather, she will move backward. I have been unable to ride her since November, due to an injury. Now that I'm back on my horse, I need to get this habit fixed. I know that she did this with her previous owner as well. The only way to get her to move forward is to use a stick (I trail ride) but I'd rather not.
What are steps I can take to fix this problem?
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    06-28-2009, 01:08 AM
Lots of lunging. It sounds like she doesn't have any confidence once she can't see her mommy. Do alot of ground work before you get on her back. Lunging will help build her confidence and yours.
    06-28-2009, 07:41 AM
I agree to start over with this horse and retrain her from the ground. Backing up is a really bad habit and should have been addressed the very first time she did it.

I don't agree that its because she can't see her "mommy" Its because she learned by backing up people don't ride her.
    06-28-2009, 08:32 AM
I agree with weefoal that the backing is just a habitual evasion of work. Lots of groundwork and establishing a soild "forward" cue and response from the ground. My suggestion as far as getting her going forward under saddle would be the squeeze, cluck, smack method. On a loose (as in sloppy, as long as you feel you can stop her) rein, to be sure that she isn't misinterpreting your contact, gently squeeze your legs. If she doesn't respond, or backs up, cluck to her while you mantain the squeeze. If she doesn't respond to that, or backs up, take your stick and smack her behind your legs with increasing pressure until she gives you the right answer (forward motion, even a fussed hop forward. Reward the smallest change). I would personally use a string with a popper on the end, similar to but floppier than an over/under, it's easier to flip back and forth and reach both sides of the horse. You can tie the string off to the saddle horn or front dee on your saddle, anywhere handy, until you need to use it on the trail. The progression of cues teaches the horse to respond to the first one, since if they don't, there's a storm coming, lol. Eventually, the stick or string is unnecessary. I would start the exercise in a more controlled area than on the trail, an arena or even your mare's pasture, just in case she overreacts in the beginning.
Hope that made sense and helps a bit. Good luck!
    06-28-2009, 08:42 AM
I agree totally with doing all the groundwork you can.

I watch most of RFD-TV shows and I hate to say this, but, I think for once Ryan Gingerich ways might be able to help you! SHOCK! ( I never thought I would ever recommend him, lol )

What he does is simply to tap at the girth line of the horse's left side with a training stick/whip, while you are facing the horse on the left. When the horse takes a step off with the left foot he stops tapping immediately. When the horse takes that first step he then stops him very lightly with the lead rope and has him back up a little bit.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

He eventually lets the horse walk off several steps but always stops him lightly and has him back up.

Repeat on the right side as well. He also does this up against a fence to help the horse not sway out possibly? If you don't have an arean fence you could use the side of a barn etc. No round pen is needed for this exercise and I like that.

This transfers over to under saddle with the foot.

His big thing is that the leg you tap on is the leg the horse HAS to step out with.

It's a little thing to start out with, your horse needs a lot more confidence building.

I also agree, your horse is going backwards out of fear and insecurity and that's a dangerous thing.

My horse used to do that and I know some people said to make them back up until they wanted to stop and then to keep them going longer. I never did that, it might have worked, but I chose to start a training program of ground work and have not had that problem since the first month of training.
    06-28-2009, 09:04 AM
That's a good suggestion, horsegma! I'm no Ryan Gingrich fan myself (I watch his show just to have a laugh, usually. ) This is probably one of the best ways to help the mare understand moving forward.
    06-28-2009, 10:32 AM
From my experience of breaking my horse it was always because he didn't have any confidence alone and once I was out of sight (on his back) he wouldn't walk forward let alone turn his head. And when I could get him to move it was always backing up.

Which was because he didn't have enough ground work.
    06-28-2009, 09:02 PM
Today I took her into my backyard, which is big and flat, whereas my pasture is rolling. I lunged her for a while, let her eat the green grass while I did a chore, and then rode her bareback. She didn't move when I asked her to, but she also didn't back up. (I had two lead ropes connected to a halter.) This makes me think perhaps it's the bit? Is this a possibility?
    06-28-2009, 10:05 PM
Could the cheekpieces on the bridle be adjusted too short? If they are, the bit is constantly putting pressure on her cheeks. I could really see this restricting her forward movement, and definitely it could be confusing her and inadvertently cuing her to go backwards. There should be just the beginning of a wrinkle at the corner of her mouth on each side when the bridle is on. The traditional 3 wrinkles is far too tight, IMHO. You only want the bit to lay in the horses mouth, not be held there as such, if that makes sense. Definitely check that if you haven't already.
    06-28-2009, 10:25 PM
I'll put her bridle on tomorrow and check it out. Hopefully that's what's doing it.

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