I had a thread going about dicipline about one month ago. My horse Dusty is really stubborn. I've had him for two months now. Each time I ride him he is worse then the last. I think he is getting it over me.
I squeeze, click to him, kick him and he doesn't move. I kick as hard as I can and he choses to stand still. Last weekend I used a crop for a while and it got him moving, but I found using my hand and hitting him on the rump works better.
He is still reluctant to move most of the time. What would be a good way to get him out of this habbit of being so stubborn?
Is it possible that he is in pain somewhere - if he has put his back out he will be reluctant to move and this will get worse if left untreated.
He may have other medical issues that cause this stubborness .
Try having another horse act as a lead - if he moves readily whilst following another horse then he may be being stubborn - if not he may be in pain.
Definitely make sure it's not pain related. A chiropractor might be a good idea.
If you can rule out pain completely, here is what I would do. Horses like this are very smart. They put on a good act and make us think that they are dull, insensitve, inattentive, lazy, stubborn, etc. But really, they aren't. They are just unmotivated. Instead of trying to force his body into action, you need to get into his brain. I'm sure he stomps his feet and twitches his skin when a fly lands on him......so the fly is getting more of a reaction out of him than you are. So you need to become like a fly. Ask him to go forward by bringing up your energy (which comes from your core) and then LIGHTLY start to SQUEEZE him first in your butt, SLOWLY traveling down your theigh, to your calf, then turn your toes out and down allowing your heels to press his sides (but no kicking! Kicking makes horses dull and with these kinds of horses you can kick'em all day and they won't move) and then if he still doesn't move have a lead rope or something like it with you to create commotion above him. Swing the rope across your shoulders and then slowly let it feed out to where it starts to touch his butt. You are simply trying to annoy him basically, just like the fly. As soon as he moves even one step release all pressure. That is his reward.
Once you get him moving now you have to make it 1) fun, 2) use lots and lots of variety, horses like this can't stand consistency, and 3) you must use incentive. Ask him to walk to a grassy spot, and the harder it was to get him there, the longer you let him eat. This is NOT rewarding lazy behavior, this is letting him see that the quicker he gets to where you want to go, the sooner he gets to eat. Once he is walking out, try the trot, then the canter eventually. At first make the rest stops a short distance, and gradually build up to greater distances. You can use this same idea in an arena. Go to a corner and stop. Again, the harder it was to get him there, the longer you let him set. Eventually you could do an entire dressage or jumping pattern, whatever it is you want to do, and your horse won't act lazy because he KNOWS that he WILL get to stop eventually. He has to see that there is something in it for him, otherwise you will never cure this problem.
I really like SPIRITHORSE's response.....just one little thing that I'd not recommend is using grass eating as an incentive. I think just a spot in the arena or other grass-less area for a rest would do just as well.
The reason is....it's not a good habit to allow a horse to eat during riding time. I'm in the process of helping 2 clients retrain their horses not to eat when being ridden. The first is a vacuum cleaner and has learned to literally move and eat at the same time. The second has a very insatiable appetite for grass, which is what caused him to get a thyroid condition.
Other than that, SPIRITHORSE's advice is right on.
You can't force a horse like this, or try to make him do anything, or fight or overuse pressure (kick, whack with the stick)....there has to be a definite pattern of pressure....light to raising it til he responds but always starting with light.
Also...start with light...wait a second, then add more,...wait a second then add more....so give the horse 1 second (or 2 maximum) to think about what you're asking and to respond.
How old is he?
I'll respectfully disagree with Calamity on the grazing issue. imo it's never a good thing to never allow a horse to graze while riding. I like the saying "Never say never, don't always say always, but usually say usually." If the horse truly respects the rider, he will stop grazing when asked to with the slightest suggestion. My horse is highly motivated by food, he LOVES food! lol. But I still use this pattern of going to grazing spots if he is feeling a little lazy some days, and when I ask for his head up, he gives it right to me. No fight, nothing.
And I respectfully disagree with spirit on the grazing issue.
Worst habit! Can result in kids being pulled over ponies heads, not nice. I have a rule, not eating with the bridle on. It means my horses stand ground tied with a bridle on. It means that they don't try and steal bites of grass while i'm on the trail. It means they have manners.
If I want to let them graze on a ride, I get off and take the bit out of their mouth. It's difficult for them to eat with a bit in anyway.
Had a horse once that ' went stubborn ' none of the usuall methods worked on this mare she just rooted herself to the spot and refused to move at all . No pressure - lots of pressure - rider pressure - ground pressure - asking nice - just sitting there for 10 minuted doing nothing at all - nothing worked.
Eventually I resorted to the only option left ( NO i diddn't tie her to a car ) I moved her head side to side with my reins , eventually she got the message that she was going to move and walked out nicely . Really strange behavoir because she never did it before or again , but I wasn't going to dismount and teach her that she could determine when riding time was over. Sometimes horses get it into their heads to be pig headed and you have to get the message through that you are not going to give up and go away.
Spirithorses reply is also a good one as you are basically doing the same - get the horses attention - you don't have to beat it into a bloody pulp to do so - as she says they can feel a fly landing on them .
Letting a horse eat with a bit has never appealed to me because it's a piece of metal he's chomping and trying to chew grass with it in the way, aside from the grazing getting out of hand possible issue. I don't allow my horse to lay down with me for a roll either.:wink: (said tongue in cheek!)
I'm on the horse's back, he's got 20 hours or so of the day to graze, he can hold off for the short time.:D
But you're right....to each their own. If that floats your boat, that's cool. But I can't say it's fine. I've got too many people asking me how to cure their horse's bad eating habit. :oops:
You have worked with your horse enough and you have enough experience to know how to handle it, and your horse respects your wishes.
I help people who don't have that from their horses for various reasons....they are just barely getting the basics of NH training and the leadership stuff and all that....so if they are learning themselves and having trouble on top of that....I can't tell them, well go ahead and let your horse graze....after I've put too much time into retraining the horse to listen to the rider and retraining the rider not to pull on the horse's mouth for any reason (that is a HARD lesson to teach).
Some people can't allow their horses to graze because the horse will tear the reins from their hands and will become so adament about it, they buck or totally ignore the rider, the rider goes to old habits of pulling on the horse's mouth....it's a mess.
So, I just tell people....don't do it. Your horse has all day to graze to eat to be a horse. When you're on his back, he can pay attention to you.....that's just easier. :wink:
But yeah, sure, if you've got full control of your horse...go ahead and let the horse graze....
BUT the OP is having enough trouble already with the horse, why add another possible issue? If the rider can't get the horse to move....who's to say going from grass spot to grass spot can be an invitation for a bad habit? At this early time of horse and rider getting to know each other....
I'm just anal about preventing problems, I guess. :shock:
NUTTY SADDLER: YES!!!
That's another way, too!
If you don't mind, I'd like to add a little to your idea:
Pick up the left rein (using a plain snaffle: full cheek or dee ring)....and bend the horse's head around to your stirrup. Bump your legs against his sides. WAIT. Hold. Wait.
The horse's neck will get tired and when it does, the horse will move his body. When he does, he will step to the side or forward with one front foot. When he does, let go of the rein and stop bumping. Repeat with the other rein.
If you do this way, you can "unlock" the horse's movement.
I haven't had a chance to read through everyone elses responses, but I would just like to say that it sounds like if it's not pain, then a bored/respect issue. My first thought is that the horse and rider are both STILL VERY new to eachother.... 2 months is not very long to get to know each other. I would go back to ground work and work on bonding/ learing each other, and if that still doesn't help, then try other methods. If this is a continuous problem, then it is most likely a pain issue or a respect issue. Sounds like (if not in pain) the horse is taking advantage of you and testing who is alpha since the relationship is new.
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