Lazy/stubborn, won't move. Sour? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-14-2010, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2010
Location: northeast ohio
Posts: 88
• Horses: 4
Lazy/stubborn, won't move. Sour?

My daughter's quarter pony is 5.We've had him for a year. He was being trail ridden by his previous owner's 12 year old daughter when we bought him. She wanted to run barrels, and she said that he was too slow and didn't like it. She was a pretty good rider, but I noticed she rode in spurs. Hmmm. I KNOW I shouldn't have bought a 5 year old horse (we since purchased an 18 year old been there done that for the kids) for a novice rider, but he was so quiet and so well behaved.....
I didn't want a horse that would take off with my daughter, and he definitely doesn't do that! Background - We had been working with a pro trainer, and kid and horse were doing quite well together. Pro trainer is too busy in summer with the horses she has in training, and her show team, to do lessons (we start again with her in afew weeks). She agrees that our horse tends to be on the lazy side, and not particularly willing to work.
Our 4H advisor considers herself to be a "trainer" too (eh, not so much), so we rode with her all summer. Mostly, they went around in circles. Towards the middle of the summer, the horse occasionally decided that he just wouldn't move forward for my daughter. She'd get on, it was either a chore to get him to go, or he'd take afew steps then stop. With a really experienced rider, he doesn't play this game.
We took him to the fair afew weeks ago. Even though my daughter was only planning on doing some halter & showmanship classes and not riding, we thought that it would be a great opportunity to get the horse used to a lot of things. He adapted really well to all of the hubbub, which was great. But halfway through the week, he decided to stop walking halfway through his walks (they get taken out of their stalls once every hour or 2 for a walk), and just refuse to move. Unless he was walking with another horse. Then he was fine. Sometimes he would refuse to come out of his stall (he's not confined to a stall at home).
The behavior has continued at home. I put the lead rope on him to take him to the arena to lunge him, his feet became glued to the ground. Once I got him out there he lunged for me, but walking him 100 feet took awhile.
So far I have tried moving his head to either side, turning him in circles, tapping his butt with a dressage whip. Sometimes it works right away, sometimes not. Sometimes he takes 3 steps, then we have to start over.
I think that too much repetitive activity over the past few months made him sour. Some of the best rides my daughter has had on him have been when our trainer has set up obstacles in the arena. Poles, barrels, cones. I don't think he's interested in being a contest horse, but he seems to find the obstacles interesting and enjoys walking and trotting around them.
Any and all suggestions are welcome. I do NOT want to make the problem worse. It's bad enough when he won't move under saddle, but when he won't even walk on a lead rope... Do I need to come up with some "games" to play with him?
Oh, and he's also decided that he doesn't particularly want to get on the trailer. He used to jump right on. Now he walks up, stops and stands there. Usually takes 15 minutes of convincing before he finally gets in. He doesn't seem scared or apprehensive in any way. Just won't budge.
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-14-2010, 10:35 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Southeastern US
Posts: 189
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First of all, are you confident that he is not experiencing any physical discomfort that make him more reluctant to move? It doesn't necessarily have to be in his feet. His back could hurt, for instance. That may not be a bad idea to have checked.

However, it does sound like the pony has gotten lazy, and has also gotten confident that he can do whatever he wants and avoid whatever you want. It's likely just a simple question of who's the boss?! If you want this problem fixed, and there's nothing physically wrong, it's a relatively simple solution.

First things first I'd get this pony into a round pen and free lunge him. I'd use a lunging whip or lariat and I'd get this horse Stay slightly behind his center and drive him forward. Use as much force as necessary but keep him moving. Start controlling his direction...ask for turns. He stops when *you* decide. I'd do short sessions like these daily for awhile.

Secondly, every time you lead this horse anywhere, keep a dressage whip in your left hand and hold the lead rope in the right. If he stops, remain facing forward. Do not turn and look at him. Reach back and tap him on the hindquarter with the whip and move very purposefully forward. Do not hesitate. If he doesn't immediately follow, tap harder with the whip. Again, use as much force as you need to in order to get him moving. It won't hurt him to give him a good whack. Every so often, turn in towards him and ask him to stop. Immediately he needs to stop. Then move him backwards. If he doesn't move backwards tap his lower front legs with the dressage whip. Get him moving. It takes some work on coordination but you can get this with practice.

With consistent ground work the under saddle stuff should improve somewhat. However, your daughter is going to have to be prepared to use that dressage whip and her timing will have to be good. She needs to learn to use the whip when she senses him even starting to think about stopping! Once he's stopped its a lot harder to correct. She has to prove to this horse that she can make him move, or he simply won't be a good horse for her.

It's not uncommon for horses to do this with young people! I had one who would walk into the barn or under a tree and just stand there...and she knew the kids weren't strong enough to make her move. It's also common for horses to only want to follow another horse. This is a bad, bad habit and one that needs to be broken!

Good luck and I hope something works for you!

Last edited by Cobalt; 09-14-2010 at 10:37 PM.
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-15-2010, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2010
Location: northeast ohio
Posts: 88
• Horses: 4
Thanks for the tips, will start on these exercises today. I am confident it's not a pain issue. Under saddle, with a more experienced rider he doesn't do it at all. On the ground, as long as he doesn't have a lead rope on, he will follow us all over the place. Snap the lead rope on, he turns into a statue!
I now suspect that with his previous young rider, it wasn't that he wouldn't go fast enough around the barrels like she wanted, it was probably that he wouldn't go around them at all lol.
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-15-2010, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2010
Location: northeast ohio
Posts: 88
• Horses: 4
Free lunged him this morning as you suggested. Went very well. He seemed to enjoy it as a matter of fact. I think we just bored the poor guy half to death by doing too many repetitive activities over the summer lol.
Going to try to mix up his routine a bit more, and use these suggestions when he does decided to become a statue.
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