Horse won't walk on!
I have this SB gelding called Luca. When I got him (about 3 months ago) he had never had anyone on his back before. He's 5 years old. I did loads of groundwork with him, and he's doing very very well. He's come from an ex pacer who was scared of almost everything to a well behaved, lively horse who walks calmly over tarpaulins and trots in-hand (he used to only walk when I was leading him, no matter how much I clicked my tongue or encouraged him.) I've also started riding him, with my dad lunging him in a walk at the same time. But when the lunge was removed, Luca would just stop. No matter what I did, he just stood there. We worked on that and now he's ok with it, walking in a circle around my dad, with no lunge. He can also walk in a straight line, wherever I want him to walk. But after a time he got bored and started to stop in front of juicy looking pieces of grass. I kept his head up, but he wouldn't walk on. He just stood there. How can I get him to walk on when he just ignores all my commands?! He has a soft mouth and sensitive sides, but in those moments it feels like he is a totally hard mouthed, hardened horse. Does anyone have any ideas what to do?!
Use a crop. Provided all saddle fit and medical reasons are eliminated, a young horse's most important lesson under saddle is "forward". If you ask for forward, you have to insist until he moves forward. Start with your normal, preferred cue. Then if he doesn't move, exaggerate the cue - kick harder etc. If that doesn't work, use your harder cue, combined with a smart tap on the backside from the crop (note to new users - be ready for a jump the first time you do this...). Every time, demand an immediate response to your cue, or escalate it.
Exactly what chiilaa said a crop will help. Also try turning him and keep him busy with ground poles, serpentines, side pass etc anything to keep his mind on you. Don't be a push over demand his attention each time reward for the smallest try.
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Does this horse even know that leg means go? Its all good and well to be lunged on him, but unless you have worked on introducing the leg and backing it up with the walk on cue from the ground, he's not going to have any idea that you want him to move.
Unless you are a VERY good, balanced rider that isn't going to come off, slam into his back, or yank his mouth if he leaps forward, I'd be avoiding hitting or kicking him until he learns that leg = go.
You can hit and kick all you like but if he doesn't get it, you'll just comfuse him and end up with a horse already soured with less than 20 rides under saddle.
I agree with Kayty, coming on too strong at this stage might mean a big surprise. You could frighten him enough to send him into a huge bucking spree and get hurt.
Have you worked to teach him that a leg squeeze equals go forward? If your dad can help you, it would be easiest to have your horse off the lunge and then have your dad right behind with the lunge whip to back up your cue.
Since your horse already is presumably not afraid of a lunge whip and knows that when it is raised he should walk forward, you can for example, sit on your horse, say "walk," squeeze lightly with your legs, and then if your horse doesn't move off immediately, have your dad raise the lunge whip to get him to walk forward. Saying "walk" will help your dad know if the horse is responding or not, whether you prefer verbal cues or not.
You will have to repeat this quite a few times before you can assume that your horse understands that a squeeze means to go. Just like training a dog, how many times do you have to say "sit," before they understand that is what you really mean?
After you are positive that your horse understands your cues, then you can start giving a little smack when he ignores you.
You need to go back to your ground work and teach him to move forward when you place your hand or the butt of a riding crop in the same position your leg would be. Put the saddle on if it help visualize this. It would be a little behind the girth. He likely won't have a clue but use the lead rope to encourage his to move forward. Immediately remove the pressure on his rib when he does this. He may only rock forward at first but be sure to remove the pressure. It's a small try but it counts. When you get a step, remove the pressure and pop a treat in his mouth. Your patience is of the utmost importance. A friend gave up on using body language with her SB and taught him to work off voice commands.
I have just started my horse under saddle and we had the same problem. My coach had me use a crop and lightly turn his head each way, a little bit. She told me to be as much as a nuisance as I could to him, clucking, kicking lightly, using the whip, etc. and stop immediately once he started walking. I also used the word walk, a term he knew from our groundwork. I only used the word walk to get him to move, once he started walking I stopped saying the word.
Also if you have someone that can help you, we found that having someone behind us, with a lunge whip helped. It only took 2 sessions before he was very willing to walk forward on his own. Now 6 weeks later, we have no problems at all, walk and trot is great and all I have to do is use the words.
Thanks for the advice, I tried using a crop but he went totally beserk and when I tried to get him to walk on, he went straight into a gallop :S...whenever my dad raises the lunge whip, he will walk on, but if he doesn't he just won't budge. I'll try the crop again, though...and yes, he does know leg commands. He just gets stubborn when he's bored. Or when he sees juicy grass.:lol: Luca is actually getting better, though, I rode him yesterday and he walked on better than before. Hmm..., but I'll definitely try the crop. He used to be a pacer, so I think he's just a bit nervous. Maybe I just have to relax a bit, too, so he feels the same.
And he understands verbal cues perfectly :D
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