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Shenandoah 09-22-2010 12:23 PM

Trot on the lead rope
My boy has mostly good ground manners. He walks at my shoulder and never gets into my space. I can drop the rope, tell him to stand, and walk away, walk circles around him, whatever. I can even speed up and slow down the walk, keeping him right at my shoulder.
But I can't get him to break out of the walk into a trot (or gait - he does both).
I've tried just increasing my walk speed, and he just walks faster until he starts dropping behind me, then raises his head and fights it. I've tried jogging off, and he just holds his previous speed, then raises his head when I get to the end of the rope. I've tried holding the end of the lead rope or a dressage whip in my left hand, flicking him lightly as I speed up and he doesn't match me, and he just swings his hind end away from me and comes to a full stop.

When I bought him and had the vet check on him, he had to have someone chasing after him with a crop, which sort of worked, but I don't consistently have someone around to help (I usually go out in the evenings after work, and often am the only person there).

What's the best approach from here? Should I just work on continuing to change my speed up and down, getting a little faster each time until he gives in and breaks out of a walk? Or should I only work on it on weekends when I can enlist the help of a friend with a crop? Any other approaches that I'm missing?

MN Tigerstripes 09-22-2010 12:37 PM

Is he of riding age yet?

I taught Soda this using a combination of methods. He knows that "double cluck" under saddle means to trot, so I just applied that and started moving faster. I also put him in a situation where he wanted to go faster anyways and then asked for the trot. In my case it was to get away from the multitudes of mostquitos eating us both. Now he trots easily off with me as soon as I speed up.

I'm using the same general idea with Lily except we don't have any mosquitos, so I'm trotting her with Soda. I wouldn't recommend trotting two horses in hand though unless you know their personalities fairly well.

aforred 09-22-2010 12:46 PM

I have two suggestions that might work for you.

If he knows how to longe, do that first using consistent vocal cues. Get him to trot off as soon as you give the cue. Then try it leading.

Try leading him along a sturdy fence (a good visual barrier) or a wall so that when you tap his rear he can't move it away from you.

Try not to get so far ahead of him that you're pulling on him, because that will only lead to a fight. Let us know how it goes.

Shenandoah 09-22-2010 01:11 PM

Thanks for the tips.

He is of riding age, and I don't have any problem getting him to pick up a trot or gait under saddle (although which one of those two it is is still up for grabs - one thing we're working on), but I mostly use my seat and legs to ask. I could start adding an auditory cue to that.

He was never taught to lunge according to his previous owners. I did lunge him a week or so ago and he did ok (I've only had him 3 weeks now), so that's definitely a possibility, if I worked him on the lunge for a while and built his response to voice commands.

Didn't think about this until now, but he has had some driving training in his past, so would assume he learned a fair amount of voice commands from that, yet saying "trot" when I'm leading him doesn't seem to have any effect. Not sure if there's any good way to take advantage of that training, though.

Thanks for the fence idea. I'll give that a try later and see if it helps.

DieselPony 09-22-2010 05:15 PM

I was told once that a visual cue helps some horses. Instead of you just walking faster, trot. Bounce like you're trotting. It appeared to be the way my old mare was taught. You could cluck, pull, tap with whip but she wouldn't trot without a fuss until you trotted.

VelvetsAB 09-22-2010 05:35 PM

Driving doesn't necessarily mean verbal cues. A kiss or two, a cluck, or a flip of the rein is what we always used when driving.

I agree with the trotting along a fence so he cant move away from the whip. Are you just fast walking? Try jogging and see if that changes it.

PumpkinzMyBaby22 09-22-2010 06:37 PM

like the others have said, voice commands jogging by a fence, clucking ect may get him going. I find bouncing like an idiot when I am running also helps ;P
Have you tried hold the side of the halter itself, not the lead rope? It may not work for your boy, but it does work for Pumpkin on his lazy days. Don't forget to reward him if he does trot for you! Good luck :)

Chella 09-22-2010 06:58 PM

He wants you in front because that means he is the boss. The higher horse always sends the ones under him out first (just in case there is a monster ahead). Start on the lungel line and have a long stick/whip and get him to move around you in a circle. Ask for the trot. Move at him behind his shoulder towards his rump swinging the stick in a circle if he does not move wack him with the stick in the butt. Make sure your hand holding the rope is open because if he moves off at a trot you do not want that hand to jerk the rope and halt what you just asked. Do not worry about a perfect circle just make him move his feet.

Shenandoah 09-22-2010 07:13 PM

We tried the fence thing this afternoon, and he was just getting confused and not wanting to even walk by me anymore :-( so I stopped that.

I have tried both walking faster and jogging/bouncing. I haven't tried directly holding his halter, I could try that tomorrow.

He is VERY responsive to verbal praise and face scratches, so believe me, I'm watching closely and just a single step at the trot is going to get tons of loving. But I can't even get that first step.

The one semi-success I had was when I tried pushing him out to the end of the lead rope and getting him started as if lunging, but then after <.5 turn at a trot I'd start jogging/bouncing in the same direction as him. That was actually sort of working - at least we could go a few steps together. Maybe if I try more of that with increasing the distance we travel and working my way in closer to him...

I'm sure it's me doing this wrong - because he's usually so quick to pick up everything else I ask of him.
I think I'll ask my instructor at tomorrow's lesson. We usually focus on my riding, but I'm sure she'd be happy to see if she can figure out what I'm doing wrong here, and to see if she can get a response out of him herself.

Thanks again, all.

MacabreMikolaj 09-22-2010 08:40 PM

I had this problem with my filly and this is what I personally did - this could or could not work for you.

As soon as I asked her to trot, and she refused, I would tap her with the Dressage whip and she would spin her butt from me and start backing up - I would run straight backwards with her, making each tap with the whip harder then the last, until the pressure was finally intense enough that she would LEAP forward. I wasn't expecting "trot" yet, I was expecting "when I say forward I mean FORWARD."

I always began with a verbal cue, followed by the tap of the whip, and then followed by running backwards with her and hitting her as hard as necessary for her to leap forward. This was more a case of her not being attentive to me whatsoever and teaching her to pay attention to me.

You do, however, have to be EXTREMELY quick on your feet, dexterous enough to handle whip and horse appropriately and be able to judge where your horse is behind you without glancing a lot. It's definitely difficult, and something a lot of people have trouble with - my forte with horses is working on the ground moreso then in the saddle.

If your boy doesn't back up and instead chooses to keep spinning away, spin with him - increase your pressure on the whip until he goes FORWARD. If done properly, he WILL quickly learn that any direction except forward is not fun whatsoever. Once they learn that, they have no choice but to trot when asked because all other doors have been closed to them.

Best of luck!

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