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Dull sided horse
I recently took on a bit of a project in the form of a four year old AQHA WP filly. This girl is really sweet, has the classic WP form and movement, and is very well bred. She also has been shown extensively in the AQHA circuit as a futurity horse.
The only problem is that she is EXTREMELY dull sided. I watched a video of the previous owner riding her and this gal had her spurs on this girl the entire ride to get her to trot and canter. Now the woman that I am working this horse for doesn't want to wear spurs, just wants to lightly show, and mostly just enjoy her horse, but there is really nothing enjoyable about riding her right now.
I have never delt with a horse that is this unresponsive, she doesn't even seem to notice when I just use normal leg cues to ask her to move out and transistion up. If I don't keep my heel on her constantly see immediatly stops too. I have only ridden her a couple of times, just to see what she knows and what we need to work on (she has a very false headset which is going to be fun to correct), so I haven't tried my only idea which is to carry a crop and use it to reinforce my leg cues, but obviously you can't carry one in the WP show ring. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
My advice? Hit the trails. There's nothing like a long, open track in front of a horses nose to inspire some forward.
My horse was like this when I bought him.
Basically you have to be really consistent with the ask/tell/make escalation of pressure. I would ask with a click of my tongue and a squeeze of my calf for for forward, no response. I then give a much stronger leg cue, strong seat cue, and another cluck, no response. My last step was over-undering with my reins (only thick cotton so it was more the noise and action). Once he was forward I made him stay forward, usingthe over-under if he tried to come back. I started out just doing this with a canter, as he could go as fast as he liked, but not slower than I wanted. Eventually they respond to the light cue.
What do you do on a hot horse who is touchy to the leg? use more leg. So it makes sense that on a dull horse, you use less. When she is going forward, sit quietly. Only use leg when you want her to move off it, or move forward.
^^Precisely. A little bit of trail work will wake her up some. I use leather split reins on most my horses and a gentle pop on the rump with one will certainly inspire some forward motion. Just be prepared if she has never been tapped on the butt before, she may lurch forward the first few times. You could also use a crop for the same thing. Just use it as an enforcement to the leg cues
Ask, encourage, tell.
I know you ride Western, but I would suggest a dressage whip. First I squeeze, if that doesn't work I press the whip on his side. If he still doesn't respond, I give him a swift pop with the whip (as hard as needed). It's amazing howfast he figured it out, lol
Forgot to add, get some friends to trail ride with you, and have a race! It's a rare horse who won't try to keep up with mates.
I will have to see about taking her on a trail ride to freshen her up. I know she makes the owner nervous because she spooks at just about everything outside of the arena. She also doesn't know how to steer off the rail. Sometimes the WP world really annoys me.
Also, I'm not sure just how trained this horse is...(do you have a video of her)
Most wp horses arent trained to move out from the spur like in most other diciplines. Spur pressure often means collect, shorten stride, slow down, or stop...depending on the trainer.
A video would be a huge help.
She may not be dull sided at all.
I will try to get a video of her when I go ride her tomorrow. I don't think she is spur stopped trained, she doesn't move off without constant heel, and then stops the second you take it off.
Poor girl, sounds like she doesn't know any world outside of work. I would vote again for lots of trails, with a buddy who can perk up her instinct to race a bit! Spookiness generally goes away with a solid trail buddy and experience.
There was something about this in one of my magazines recently. Horse and Rider, maybe?
They suggested basically what the others did, plus work on your leg cues. On a scale of 1-10 in leg cues, give a 4. If that doesn't work then give a slight swat with the dressage whip. Try to work your way down to a 1 or 2 eventually.
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