Horse won’t trot, or will only trot to the exit gate. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-10-2020, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Horse won’t trot, or will only trot to the exit gate.

Hello! This is my first post here so hopefully I’m in the right spot. I recently purchased a Quarter horse gelding last month named Amigo who I’m having some troubles with getting to go while riding. I board him at a small barn so the only arena I have available is pretty much a fenced off part of a pasture- which is fine. Only problem is he can still see his buddies and will only trot when facing the exit gate to see them or trot when one of them is in the arena with him. He has no problem going when lunging on the ground and my body cues shouldn’t be giving mixed signals so I’m not quite sure how to solve this problem?

I’ve tried working with him to get his attention on me while riding since he does a great job at it on the ground but to no avail. I cant get him to go without another horse unless I’m trotting towards the gate. I’ve attempted asking for the canter a few times and it took quite a bit to get him into it and, again, I was only able to succeed while facing the exit gate for a short moment. He’s completely sound and has had the chiropractor out a week or so ago so it’s not a “physically can’t” type of situation. 😔

I lightly use a crop and vocal cues with him, since his previous owners seemed to have used pretty severe spurs to the point where he’s completely deaf to leg cues of any sort. Any tips or suggestions on how I can get him moving better? Or moving in the arena without another horse? Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-10-2020, 04:27 PM
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Welcome to the forum. Congrats on your new QH, and don’t despair. You’ll get it figured out!

Here’s my 2 cents. Sounds like he was trained to tune out light cues. I’d go back to basics and do ground work. If you can’t get his attention to stay on you, chances are you won’t get anywhere. You need to work with him in a manner that he understands that it’s time to work.
Personally I do that in a round pen and no lunge line and really work on one thing, working him hard enough that he has to pay attention. The less attention I have from the horse, the more aggressive my body language (and lunge whip) become and I ask for lots of transitions and changes in direction. The moment he starts to look to the inside (at me), keep an ear on me and start to lick or chew i let off the pressure. The moment I lose his attention, I up the pressure in a big way. At no point would I work a horse so he’s hurt, but a disrespectful horse is not a safe horse.l so you can’t be afraid to make him go. Once you have his attention on you and he ignores everything else, and you can get him to w/t/c in both directions, (and preferably turn into you when changing directions) then you can do the same thing in the saddle. Put him through his paces and if he starts to show attitude, then work him in right circles. The more you get his feet to move, the faster he will figure that ok you know what you’re doing and will start to respect you. Don’t punish him with spurs or harsh bits. This will take some work but it is achievable. You can also look up some training videos on YouTube. Lots of trainers and lots of different approaches. Pick one and stick with it for a while.

If the only ride you’re getting is where he wants to go, that means he is in control and you’re just a passenger who he tolerates (for now), more misbehaviours will start and in a hurry if it’s not nipped in the bud.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

By the way, if you don’t have a round pen available, it’s more difficult but the same thing can be achieved while lunging.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-10-2020, 04:38 PM
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Also, teach him to listen to the leg again. He can feel a fly land on there so he’s not ‘numb’. Use a progression of cues. Push with your seat and press with your legs and let up the pressure of the bit, you can also use a verbal cue too. If he doesn’t listen, give him a harder squeeze, a bigger push on the saddle and maybe a light touch with the crop. Failing that, do everything in a much more exaggerated way and a good whack with the crop. Enough to make him jump and think holy crap that meant business. Most horses, tend to eventually give in and go. When you make another request, start at level 1 and graduate as needed. And one day you’ll get a surprise of asking in a subtle way and he’ll respond. That’s a happy day 🙂.

There were days when I’d be riding and my horse would decide he didn’t feel like going anymore and just stop, about 20’ into the ride, away from his buddies. With progression of cues I’m sure I looked like a complete lunatic, of drumming his sides with my legs and pushing with the seat and just put up a big fuss including yelling. But it’s always worked and I don’t have to ‘lose’ very often 😂. And the most important thing you can do is to stop all pressure the moment he complies. Sometimes easier said than done.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-10-2020, 08:26 PM
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You might want to ask for some help from a more experienced person, or even hire a trainer for a few lessons with your new horse. He definitely has 'your number', so to speak.

Don't use spurs, at all. Use a whip or the long ends fo the reins to smack him good if he completely ignores you.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-11-2020, 01:27 AM
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As said, he is ignoring leg aids, of course he feels them.

I am tough on horses like this and will ask with a strong leg aid for the horse to move forward, if he chooses to ignore then I will give a hard kick. If he moves forward with either and it is not a sharp walk then I will stop and ask again, this time I will just ask with a strong leg, if he doesn't move sharply away then I will use my whip, HARD immediately behind my leg, sometimes, with a really defiant horse, I will give a one two three, first whip on the right, bring my arm across and whack the other side then back to the first side. All of this is very fast and always behind the leg to reinforce my leg aid.

This has never failed to get a horse to shoot forward. I will have him trotting a few yards, stop and repeat. After a couple of goes when he is moving off my leg alone, I will keep him trotting, knowing that he is going to stop at the gate I would be ready to use the whip the moment he started to slow.

Sounds to me as if he was used at a trail riding centre carting novices following the horse in front.

The best thing is for you to have some lessons on him.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-11-2020, 11:14 AM
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At present your horse is trotting in response to outside stimuli - wants to go back to the barn/buddies or wants to follow the horse in front.

You donít mention what he was like when you tried him prior to purchase or what he was like when ridden by another person when you viewed him prior to purchase.

If he was responsive then, you probably need more instruction to help you establish a firmer, more positive approach in your own riding.

If you didnít ride him and didnít see anyone else ride him prior to purchase then chances are he just doesnít understand what youíre asking him to do.

Horses donít have magical buttons that make them respond to your legs.

The response is a result of trained learning.

I know a lot of people like the whole use of body language when lunging a horse because it works on the ground. It works because the horse can see you.

You get on the horse and immediately that visual cue disappears and the horse hasnít a clue what your legs banging on itís sides mean.

Go back to lunging.
Use clear verbal commands along with your body language
Drop the body language altogether so the horse is only responding to your verbal commands

Now when you get on the horse you can use a command it can hear and understand alongside your legs and seat cues.

I donít use clicking and smushing sounds as cues though I will use a click as a Ďlisten to meí focusing noise.
I use Ďwalk, whoa, trot, canter, turn and back.

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-11-2020, 07:08 PM
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Hi & welcome to the forum!

Originally Posted by AmigoandMe View Post
Only problem is he can still see his buddies and will only trot when facing the exit gate to see them or trot when one of them is in the arena with him.
I don't believe seeing his buddies is any kind of problem. But obviously, you want him to respond to you regardless.

I lightly use a crop and vocal cues with him, since his previous owners seemed to have used pretty severe spurs to the point where heís completely deaf to leg cues of any sort. Any tips or suggestions on how I can get him moving better? Or moving in the arena without another horse? Thanks!
I sus this is the problem, that he has become rather 'shut down' because of previous heavy handed(footed)ness. & unfortunately, that may well mean you need to get 'heavy' to get through to him to begin with. You should use 'aids' as softly as possible, but as firmly as necessary *to be effective*. So I'd start softly - in the manner you want him eventually responding to, but ramp it up pretty quickly, to show him you mean it. But I'd also make a point of finding better, nicer motivations for him to do as you ask - eg. get him reliably responsive going towards his mates, with another horse, out of the 'arena' first, before asking him to do the same in other unmotivating settings. I'd also ensure I was rewarding him for whatever you get.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-11-2020, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the helpful responses guys!! I don't know how to directly respond to a specific comment but to answer some questions;

No, I had not seen him ridden before I purchased him. I don't jump into buying horses but he was an exception as I fell in love the moment i saw him which is rare for me considering the number of horses ive worked with/ridden. To say the lease he wasnt exactly a planned purchase lol.

He hadn't been worked in about a year+ and was left in a field, previously owned by someone who didn't know a lot about horses and had been bucked off by him and deemed him "untrained" and "crazy" Which in reality, he's the sweetest horse there is and it was probably due to their lack of horsemanship skills that he had an attitude with them. He was ridden for 7 years in the mindset of using brute force in place of any training, so i can see why he would be confused by the cues I'm using. We're both on separate pages and i need to step back and find his page so I can work with him in a way hes comfortable and not feeling overwhelmed. I should have worded my original post better- reading back it sounds like he's an old stubborn horse but in reality, he just seems confused and unsure of what to do with himself so he locks up on the breaks when he's uncomfortable and turns back to go to what he knows- his field.

I haven't had any bucking problems in the least and he doesn't seem agitated or annoyed during riding. He has his ears pricked and relaxed body positions; just doesn't get the difference between work time and playtime. They told me they used leg and to just "give him a good hard kick to go" which I've always worked with vocally trained horses/ not such hardened horses if that's the right term? I really want to try to work with him and teach him softer cues so I don't feel like I have to be so rough with him. I'm just struggling with the getting attention portion of training since this barn doesn't have a round pen or good area I can work him in. But I will definitely go back to the basics on the ground like recommended I appreciate that!

When I ride him I'm very soft at the beginning and slowly get more authoritative when needed which he sometimes responds to but, again, I'm really just wanting to get him softer and realize its time to work but in a positive way. Im very proud of him since he's picking up light crop and vocal cues this week but still only listening to them half the time. I don't know why i didn't think of going straight back to basic groundwork in the first place I guess its been a hot crazy week? Duh! When in doubt go to the basics.

What ive been doing cue-wise to ask him to go is i apply leg pressure (which is what he was previously used to) and say the word "trot", if he doesn't respond the first time i apply leg a little more while giving a light tap on the shoulder with a crop and repeat until he goes into the trot and releasing all pressure once he does. To keep him going i give click noises and try not to do long periods of trotting so i can ask him to stop before he decides on his own accord too. Rewarding each time he trots with praise and pets, and afterward treats. I'm trying to get him to associate trotting with the vocal cue so later on I can stop having to use hard leg pressure to ask him to go and he can work off of my voice. Of course not totally getting rid of all leg pressure training, just the hard kicking like his old owners used. Should I go about this another way while riding?

I do have a trainer whos at the other barn I've been riding at/working at for nearly 9-10 years but she works more with show saddlebreds and not QH's. She would say to use brute force to get him to go but i dont want to use her methods with Amigo since the more authoritative force you use the more anxious and annoyed he seems to get. I don't want to make riding a negative thing for him. I'll look up some good ground training videos online and find a method I think will speak to him and fit his mindset well. I'll update you guys when i can! Thanks so much for the help again!
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-12-2020, 10:46 AM
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I think you have to assume that your horse was never broken properly, if at all.

We bought a pony when I was 14 that had been shown in hand (halter) since she was a foal and was so used to being handled she didnít have any worries at all about me getting on her but she hadnít a clue what any cues meant!

Iíve also known lots of horses and ponies that were used safely for years in trekking centres by complete novices, theyíd follow the horse in front at any pace but if you took that horse away they didnít have a clue what was being asked of them.

If youíre teaching verbal cues on the lunge and the horse is understanding them itís just a matter of time and patience now.
Itís pointless getting tough with the horse if itís still learning, some are just quicker and smarter at learning than others.
If you have someone that is experienced in long reining/drive lining then that would help him.
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Just winging it is not a plan
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