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upnover 01-23-2008 11:32 AM

horse without a motor!
Hey everyone-

I'm looking for some advice or ideas for a pretty green but willing QH gelding I'm working with. He w/t/c, leg yields, turns on the forehand/haunches, haunches/shoulders in, etc very well at the walk, starting on the trot. He jumps 2" courses. Very sensitive and responsive to my leg but really lacks natural forwardness and of course impulsion. If left to his own when I ask him to trot he'd much rather do a slow almost western jog so I have to really make him trot forward. Same at the canter, almost a slow lope and i have to make him canter on a pace that's acceptable for the hunter ring. He's very sensitive so when I close my leg on him he does move forward and respond, he just won't keep going. So I ask him again and he moves forward, and then dies down. If I use my crop he squirts forward... and then dies down. I hate seeing riders who are always driving their horse forward every couple of steps. He needs to learn how to maintain a forward rhythym on his own. We do a lot of trot poles, cavelettis, gymnastics, transitions, lower level dressage, lengthen/shorting strides, lunge, etc. Any other ideas?!

PS- He eats a scoop of sweet feed at morning and night and a half scoop of chopped alfalfa at lunchtime. Always has a salt block in his stall and gets turned out all night. In excellent weight. He gets exercised 4-6 days a week, but he's always the same whether he gets a day off or a week off.

Stepher 01-23-2008 11:48 AM

One of the horses where I take lessons is like this, he is a natural
Have you tried giving him supplements or minerals/viatmins? My coach started to give this to all her horses for the winter (the hay isnt the best) and it seemed to help him a lot. He's still pokey, but is a lot more willing to go.

JustDressageIt 01-23-2008 07:31 PM

Awe.. some horses are naturally pokey... I've ridden tons of pokey horses, and as annoying as it is, sometimes you just have to push them all the time. The trick is to get your cues so invisable that it doesn't look like you're doing anything. I've always been told that the best riders look like they're just sitting there while the horse seemingly does everything on its own, and I stand by that.
It stinks, but just work on making him move forward in such a manner that it doesn't look like you're working hard. Get your trainer to tell you whenever you look like you're doing excess work. The only other thing I can suggest is to push him forward whenever he slows, so he doesn't associate "she pushes forward then lets me slow down" as a reward, if tha tmakes sense...
Sorry, I really can't help other than that!! Hopefully someone else can be more helpful than me :P
Oh, and for feed... you can try beet pulp, it tends to make horses hotter.

upnover 01-24-2008 02:16 AM

Actually I am a trainer... :) And in the past 17 years I've been riding (4 professionally) I have yet to experience a horse like this one. -because he is sensitive and responsive and so willing without an ounce of sourness in him. He't not sucking back, it's like his inner metronome is just set on a happy slow pace. On the flip side he's exceptionally calm. We've had horrid unridable weather all week with almost no turnout as well. While I was riding for the first time this week (no lunging), the new guy left the school horse pasture open by mistake and they went galloping past the arena bucking and squealing as they went, circled and went straight back to the barn to look for food (don't worry, no one was hurt, nothing was injured...). All horses in the vicinity freaked out. Him? Raised his head and actually did a great forward trot!! ... and then slowed back down again a couple steps later. :D It was probably the most excitement I've seen out of him. Ever!

I do believe my cues are pretty invisible (it's not hard with him, all you have to do is close your leg) but I hate to drive a horse every step because it doesn't teach them to keep their own rhythm or pace. But I guess they have to learn that somehow right? He is pretty green still... (I sometimes forget because he's so calm and learns so quickly) I've only been working with him since June and when I got him he didn't know how to canter or even go on a straight line on the rail. Can you think of any exercises that might help?

A vet once told me that beet pulp has the nutritional value of cardboard. I imagine it must have a decent amount of sugar in it though. It's worth a try. Any other supplements you can think of?

funnygal 01-24-2008 07:52 PM

My trainer and I do alot of "passenger" lessons with "gas pedal" work. We work in a fenced or closed arena. Reins on the buckle - NO steering. My job is to keep the gait we are working in. Horse's job is to stay in the gait unless I tell him otherwise. He decides where to go, but I instruct how at the trot, I set the pace and leave him alone. Any time he attempts to go down to walk, I squeeze, cluck spank (if necessary.....)....again and again...he soon learns to stay at the gait I want and that when he does I leave him alone. Same with canter....I run the "gas pedal"'s his job to stay at the gait. This is also great seat and balance practice. He can turn when he wants and go where he wants. In the beginning I had to be constantly reminded NOT to steer or attempt to neck rein (it's hard!) and I had to hold on to my saddle when he made a sharp turn....but now I am getting pretty good at it. It's training, training, anything else. Maybe try a "passenger" lesson? Good luck :)

Bitless 01-24-2008 09:53 PM

Maby get him going down a beach or with some games to try and get him to want to go forward. Possibly even let him go at a gallop to really strech out and feel for a faster pace.

I remember riding this girls horse and WOW was he slow. Serioulsy his canter was honeslty as fast as a trot.....slow trot,. It almost felt like hed go backwards if he went any slower :shock: my cousin rode him and said the same thing but it seemed to just be his pace. he was such a sweety tho and a looker.

Harlee rides horses 01-24-2008 09:57 PM

Maybe you should have constant leg pressure on him.

funnygal 01-25-2008 06:41 AM


Originally Posted by Harlee rides horses
Maybe you should have constant leg pressure on him.

I wouldn't do that. Then they can become "Dead to the leg" and the more you nag, the more they get dead to the leg. I would work on your cues - make them sharp...we use squeeze, cluck, spank (clinton andersson). The spank we use a dressage whip behind my leg and it can't be a sissy spank. Once I do it once, I usually don't need it as a back up anymore...just squeeze, cluck will get my lazy guy going. It's not really a speed issue. It's a respect one. He is not respecting your request for speed. My horse is very similar, and I really had to up the "anty" and be the leader. Now, it's pretty much resolved. He needs to know you mean business. Grab mane (or saddle) so you don't pop him in the mouth if he jumps forward when you ask. Good luck :)

regardinghorses 01-25-2008 11:47 AM

This may not help with speed, but it does help with impulsion by getting the horse to use his hind end and get it underneath him more...

A hack outside the ring in a large field or open trail with lots of hills is great for a mental break as well as strengthening the hind end. Trotting and cantering up and especially down hills is fun and it's really really effective for improving impulsion. We had a large hay field behind our outdoor ring with some softly rolling hills, and I'd often do my warm ups out there in the open on the hills and then come into the ring to school over fences. I did this with several different horses and they always moved so much better once we got in the ring. It's a fun exercise for them and strengthens those muscles naturally. I always let them gallop out a bit too and that would wake them up and get the adrenaline flowing.

It's possible your horse may be a little more excited and interested outside the ring and pick up the pace a little more easily for you out there. If he learns to go when asked out there, it may just carry over to ring work as well.

G and K's Mom 01-25-2008 01:06 PM

My guy is like this as well, along with being calm.

It's their nature to conserve energy, being prey animals, and the real smart ones do it the best..... :D

If I feel I'm constantly having to leg him on, I change things up and do a counting game. ( it sounds silly, but hear me out)

Start in whatever gait you want and pick a number, say 12. Count out loud and go up and down between the gaits changing at your number. Throw in some halts as well. From the halt try to go up into a faster gait next.

Like I say this sounds silly, but you would amazed at how tuned in they get. The counting out loud will get his attention and all the ups and downs in short segments keep them on their toes. Picking a lessor number say 3 or 4 should really get his attention.

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