Lesson Horse Would Not Go Forward - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-14-2011, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Northern GA
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Lesson Horse Would Not Go Forward

Hi Everyone! Yesterday I had a lesson on a new horse at the barn and ran into some trouble with him. I had seen another girl ride him the week before, and although sloooow and pokey, nothing really stood out as wrong with him. I saddled him up and bridled him with no issues. He actually lowered his head and just opened his mouth to accept the bit. At this point, I'm thinking "what a sweetie, this should be a fun lesson".

Well I get on and we are tracking around the arena at a walk to get warmed up. The instructor asked us to get up to a working walk. I squeezed my legs around his barrel and he picked up the pace. Then she asked for the trot. Again, a squeeze from my legs and this time he pins his ears back, his body gets tense and he's flicking his tail like he's agitated. I thought maybe he's super sensitive to leg pressure, so I eased off on the pressure. He stops dead and starts backing up and sideways, tail still flicking. I wasn't pulling back on the reins at all, but he just kept going backwards. The instructor said to give him a more firm squeeze which I did. He responded with even more tail flicking and backing up.

I thought something was wrong with his tack. We checked his saddle, pad, bridle and nothing was wrong. They had used him earlier in the morning with no issues.

Since we only had 40 minutes left, I took him back and saddled up the horse that I usually ride. His ears were forward the whole time I lead him back. When I took his bridle off, he was nuzzling me. Strange....thought maybe he just didn't like me which is why he was being difficult.

Sorry for the novel :) My question is, what do you think was causing him to back up when I was trying to send him forward? Also, next time if he does this, or another horse I'm riding does this, how should I counteract the behavior?

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post #2 of 5 Old 02-14-2011, 08:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: West Central Illinois
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Welcome to the Horse Forum!!!

It sounds like the horse was trying to evade your cues.

Firstly, don't get into the habit of squeezing and releasing before the horse has done what you ask.
This was your first time riding this horse, so it was ok this time. You weren't sure of his limits, so you backed off. I have a feeling that you were squeezing/releasing while you were trying to get him to go. I had this habit when I was taking lessons, and I turned my lesson horse into a nightmare to get going. I would squeeze and kick her to lope then I would stop when my instructor would talk then try again. I was unintentionally telling the horse, "I want you to go faster. Ok, you don't have to. Yes you do. Not now. Go. Nope. Go. Nope." My horse, in turn, was saying, "Well, since she can't make up her mind, I'm not going to go any faster. She'll give up eventually." It took an entire lesson to "fix" her.
Bottom line: Make sure you are keeping consistant pressure on your horse.

Now to deal with the backing:

If your horse is backing to avoid work;
  1. Make sure all pressure is off of him, then say, "Woah".
  2. If they continue for 3 or 4 steps, make them back. It's like saying, "You want to back? So lets back!!!" (Make sure you tell the horse in a manner that says you mean business)
  3. Back a good 5-7 steps, then spin your horse in a quick, small circle. (bring the horses head around to you and disengage his hindquarters.)
This should get rid of the problem, because eventually the horse will realize that backing to aviod his work is only creating more work for him. If the horse continues to back, keep repeating the steps until your horse is focused on what you are telling him to do.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by A knack for horses; 02-14-2011 at 08:49 PM.
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-14-2011, 08:54 PM
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He quickly got your number. When he 'stalled out' and refused to go forward faster, you should have gotten a LOT MORE persistent and made him move out. Instead, you got off and he won.

The fact that he nuzzeled you has nothing to do with the fact that he does not respect you on his back. You need to be a person that he takes seriously. Right now, he is blowing you off.

This is what horses need to be ridden effectively:

1) Do not ask a horse to do anything that he is not ready and able to do. [This horse plainly was able to do what you asked.]

2) Do not ask a horse to do anything that you do not have the resolve to make him do. [This is where he lost you.]

3) Do not settle for anything less than getting it done.

If you ask, you have to make it happen or you might as well quit trying. Every horse will try you and they will all succeed in making you back down. That is just how they think and work.
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post #4 of 5 Old 02-14-2011, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Northern GA
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Thanks for the tips guys. I got off because I was paying $50 for 1 hour of lesson and whether right or wrong, I did not want to fight the whole hour with a horse that was not interested in working. If I end up riding him again, I will make sure to follow the advice of making him back up if that's what he's intent on doing. Sometimes it's difficult when it's not your horse or even one that you're leasing to correct it in a manner that you see fit. Growing up, whenever we rode the ponies, we wouldn't think twice to be more forceful with what we wanted the horse to do. I guess I feel like I am correcting someone else's child in public...you're never sure how their parents (BO or instructor) is going to act :)
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-15-2011, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tulula81 View Post
Sometimes it's difficult when it's not your horse or even one that you're leasing to correct it in a manner that you see fit.
I completely understand. I've never owned a horse in my life, so I've always ridden other peoples' horses. I'm also pretty timid, so it was hard for me to know what was acceptable for "Laying down the Law". Now I usually don't give disipline a second thought when a horse is acting up.
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