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speeding up a slow wallking horse??
I have tried a couple things: squeezing both legs or bumping with one leg or the other before the foot goes forward. Both work but only for a few strides then I have to start over again. I am getting very frustrated and I know it may take time but is there another easy fast working method that I can try? He goes back to the barn at a faster pace than he does going out.
thanks for any suggestions..
lesson of the leg
So you want him to walk faster? Will he walk faster on the way home to the cozy barn, his chow and his bud? First of all you have to determine his natural "walkout" speed. Some horses walk faster than others and it would't be fair to ask him to walk all the time at a pace that isn't his natural rythm.
However, if he is just being lazy and igoring your leg aid, then he needs the lesson of the leg. You have to reteach him what your leg aid means.
It means you have to put your leg on and MEAN IT! (it also means that you don't mindlessly bang away at his side every stride or you will dull him out over time). Your leg has to have an ON and an OFF and never the twain shall meet.
So, you put your leg on (I use one leg only , especially if the horse tends to balk back agains pressure.) Don't squeeze so much as "flutter" your ankle and calf against him. ONCE lightly, next Stronger and Last you take you whip and you bop, bop, bop in rapid succession right back where you put your leg on. Yes, it is sudden and shocking but it is meant to make an impression and wake him up! Guess what? He's gonna go forward like no tomorrow, and you'd better be ready to go with him. Do NOT pull him back down with the reins. You said FORWARD, so let him go forward at whatever gait he needs. Go with him for a bit and then ease him back down to a walk and act like nothing bad happened. Walk forward and put the leg on (lightly, harder and bop, bop with the whip!) If he repsonds at Light, or at hard, then don't use the whip. After one or two times, you just have to touch him to go. The secret is that you must go back to square one periodically, if he forgets the meaning of the leg on.
It is much better to be quick and firm than to be timid and nag. It is sometimes hard for us to do this as it causes our horses to react suddenly and we may be too scared to deal with that. If so, don't be too harsh with the whip, but at least wake him up by perhaps slapping your own thigh with a loud whack and most importantly, when you get serious and ask him to go forward, don't give up until you get a CHANGE in his walk, a real change, and then "coast" for a sec. and be sure that when he goes forward as per your insisitance that you dont' counter that with a "whoa" signal throug the reins.
Also, be sure think "energy and life" in your own seat when you want it out of him. It's hard to explain in words, but you add "life" to your seat, kind of inhaling and thinking "lets' go!!!"
The endless right/left, right/left of puttting the leg on will rapidly dull out many horses, if they have a natural lazy tendencey, and a two legged squeeze can make them resentful and balk back. a quick leg, leg , whip will be short, sweet and fair.
Thank you so much for the advice thats sounds like it will work. I will try it tommorrow. I DO know what you mean about having energy in moving with the horse and all I get is a silly feeling hoping that no one is watching. He is a very laid back horse (and yes to lazy) and the slow walk is just him. Somtimes especially the warmer it is if I am by myself it feels like no matter what I do he won't even pick up his pace at all. On the way back to the barn he is not "fast", just faster but I will accept that.
I did have a crop I used on him when he balked usually, but used it very lightly at first just trying to annoy him, If I did have to really get after him with the whip he would be in no hurry to move out, but took his good ole time in moving out. I do believe that is just the way he is, at a parade this year he got him foot caught in his haybag and my friend noticed so we both jumped up and he just stood there not moving and I just picked his hoof up and set it on the ground, that part of him I love because my Arabs were not calm like that.
I so appreciate your advice, it sounds great so I will see how it works and get back to you and let you know how he does. Thanks again!!
It's nice that you appreciate him for what he is. Yeah, it might be that just putting a little life in his walk will be the most you can reasonably hope for. One thing I have noticed is if I have a very clear objective of WHERE I a headed, then my intent becomes clearer and more invigorating to the horse. Say, in an arena if I had to hurry over to the gate in order to open it for someone and I needed to get there quick, my horse would probably sense my urgency and move out. OR, I wanted to catch up with someone who was moving off,; My focus transfers over the horse. Perhaps playing some games with him where you chase another horse? Anything that brings life up into his brain and step, even if it means a canter. Like, say, you are standing in the arena and you decide, "I gotta get to point A, pronto!" You really drill your focus on the need to hurry there, you pick up that horse with your enthusiasum and by golly you canter there! like from a near standstill. It's exciting! Things that will wake him up inside. Could do work in the round pen where you get a REAL , honest to God brisk canter, and when he's moving along , you see if you can bust him into even a higher gear, just for that split second of "Push!", then pressure off. IT's his reaction of going forward with vitality that is important, not how long he can sustaing it.
He may be kind of mentally shut down and inside himself. Just kind goes along and tunes people out. I may be wayyyy off on that.
Some folks like a horse that is that kind of sleepy. Others want their horse to be awake. I prefer the awake
Make sure you are asking, removing your leg entirely, then correcting if he doesn't respond or rewarding if he does. If you leave your leg on it becomes to the horse like the girth.
I enjoyed reading your enthusiastic reply, and it sounds like fun...however while going out to the "back 40' this afternoon in hopes of riding I found he was injured and could barely put any weight at all on his left front and when he did it was a few steps on his toe and stop and rest..he was in so much pain, felt so bad for him. Got him back up to the barn, called the vet and he thinks he was running hard and his back hoof cut into his superficial tendon in between his calf and fetlock. The cannon bone down was very swollen and hot and while soaking it in cold water it was shaking, so he will not be ridden for some time. I think poor me too! I will try your suggestions when I can ride again..thanks so much!
Gosh! That sucks for the both of you. Good thing you caught it when you did and got that cold water on to reduce the swelling. Of course, the vet gave him pain meds, no? hopefully, you will be able to ride another horse in the meantime. Or, like I do when I cannot ride, I catch up on all those boring things like cleaning house and paying bills.
Keep in touch.
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