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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all!

There is a strong possibility that I will be leasing the horse that I ride in regularly. This means, if it works out, that I'll be having two 'practice' rides a week and one lesson with him. What I'd like to do, if it's possible, is improve his general activity level and his sensitivity to aids like leg and body, without having to use a crop as much. He'll never be a spry, energenic thoroughbred but I'm hoping that he can be improved. Especially if I ever want to show him. He responds to me better than the majority of other riders or I'm just spunky enough to keep after him lol but he still takes a lot of effort especially on the tired days. I read an article recently on how to 'wake up the lazy horse'. Using of the crop to reinforce the leg was part of it. Any tips, tricks or general advice on how to have him respond better would be awesome. Now, there is a limitation to what I can do. I don't own him and can't decide anything like feed and I can only see him three times a week for a limited time. I love the boy and prefer him to the more push button horses at the barn. I'm just looking for ways to make us a better team. Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

Also: With his build, he needs a breast collar or his saddle slips back to infinity and beyond. But the tag and ring on one side has been gone for about two months. How exactly do I approach this issue with my instructor/Barn owner without offending anyone? Again, I love this horse but a full set of new tack for a horse I don't own, really isn't in the cards right now, finicially wise.
 

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As for the riding issue, wanting him to be more responsive. Simply ask him more things more often.

Spend your practice rides continually changing gaits, changing directions, do serpentines, circles, figure 8s, weave cones, do barrels, do half circles, tear drop change of directions. Everything, but don't stop changing. The more you ask of him the more he'll need to pay attention - the more he's paying attention, the more less you have to do to get his attention back. Always start with the quietest cue and build up. Ask-Tell-Command (Squeeze, Kick, Whack) Repeat this each time you ask him and soon he'll be doing it with just the Ask. Keep him changing, not just gaits, but doing regular, extended and collected versions of each gait. The more you do this the more responsive he'll become. Remember when circling and all to use all your cues, start with your eyes, shoulders, hips, seat, legs, reins last. Soon your horse will be following your focal cues, going where you look, doing what you want the moment you think of it :)

As for the ill-fitting tack. I'd ask the BO or owner of the horse, just say "oh hey, I noticed his ____ isn't working right, do you know what we need to do to fix it?" Make it a question and make it a "we" not "you need to fix this", even though they do. What causes the saddle to slide back? Is he sway back? Back lifts and riding correctly will help fix that, you could also look into using a riser saddle pad, those are cheaper than a new saddle :p or whatever type of pad to even out his back.

Good luck :) Have fun with your new lease!

P.S.: Welcome to the forum! We love pics here!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So, variety and lot's of changing flatwork with a strong focus on ask/tell/command? Need to also make sure my aids are up to snuff. I know that there's trails on the property but I haven't been on them yet and don't know the general rules that go with them. I've got to say though, you should of never mentioned barrels PunksTank! I'm an english rider but I love doing barrels, keyhole and things like that. Now that I've got that idea...first few practice rides are going to be amazing lol!

As for the tack, I've already mentioned it to the BO briefly once and I think the general response was go without it? He's a 'schoolie', so he's one of about 12 horses owned by the barn. I honestly don't know what makes his saddle slid back. He's a round guy, so I think that's part of it. I lack detailed knowledge of horse things. I know basics and then I'm screwed, ha :oops:. Chalk that up to 8+ years of riding experince and riding experience only. I wasn't at the best of places before now...For his saddle/pads, he uses a regular saddle pad and a sort of half pad, which is regulation for all the schoolies.

If you love pictures, I can get some of him next chance I get. Then they might be able to show if there's fitting or body issues lol. Plus I like pictures too :wink: Thanks for responding PunksTank and tinyliny! :) I think this will help a lot
 

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Here's a fantastic video post on how to check saddle fit :) Maybe there's a saddle at the barn that would fit him better or a good pad that can even him out:
http://www.horseforum.com/horse-tack-equipment/question-does-your-saddle-reeaaalllly-fit-58116/

Yup, change it up quite a bit! And even if you're doing a pattern, be sure to break the pattern often. The more often you change the more he'll need to pay attention :)
Trails are a wonderful choice, see if you can find someone who could go with you the first few times to see how the horse will do ^^
Good luck have fun, would still love pics!
 

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A trick I learnt was to do loads of transition work.
So in walk, halt at decided points in the arena and then after a few seconds give a squeeze to walk again. If they do not respond to a squeeze, give a small kick and cluck, and if they don't respond to that, big kick, then if no response, quickly get in there with the crop. However from halt to walk they should only need a squeeze, maybe a small kick, if it takes a crop to get a walk then there may be an underlying issue.
After he is responding well to your leg on the walk-halt-walk transitions (i.e, moving off into an active walk from a squeeze), then work on walk-trot-walk transitions, with the same technique. Choose points to transition at. If your arena has letters these will come in handy ;)
Work at this until he responds to the squeeze :)
I hope this helps you
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I think with the first practice ride, I'll be doing transitions for the most part with a little barrelling at the end...hehe. He can be quite active some days and it doesn't take huge effort to get him to walk, unless it's walking away from his buddies :p So I don't think it's anything like the saddle or general discomfort. It's pretty much laziness I think lol and mischevous behaviour. He's a steady horse besides the unwillingness to work, so I think a lot of beginners and returners get put on him. So he gets away with a lot. He used to with me. Poor boy, not anymore ;) I go for my weekly lesson Wednesday, so that's when I pick up the lease agreement and read it over. Exciting! At least for me lol. I'll get the much anticipated pictures on our first practice ride...which may be next sunday lol.

So generally I need to keep his attention, make sure he doesn't get bored and teach him to pay attention when I'm signalling. Wow, makes him sound a bit ADD, like me. Either we're an excellent team or a horrible one lol. This has been a lot of great advice! I'm going to have to put it into practice in lesson too. He's a dream (to me) once he's going.

Pictures will be forth coming! lol.

Also, this is off topic but bareback pads: good or useless piece of equipment? I was thinking about riding him bareback in a couple pratices to get a better seat and to pick up his rhythm better. I don't think the barn has one. So should I invest in one?
 

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I've never used one, so I wouldn't be able to provide any info on one for you! I think they provide a bit of grip though (and maybe keep your trousers cleaner) ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, okay. Well I want to learn how to properly keep a grip without help and I don't give a single care about the cleaness of my barn pants, so I guess that's a $100 I get to save! Woo lol
 

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Bareback pads are dangerous in my opinion. They slip very easily, they will push you off balance, if you want to ride bareback, ride bareback - pads just make it more dangerous. Especially pads with stirrups! Those should just be taken off the market, even with very balanced riders those are dangerous, a mistep from the horse can send the whole pad shifted all wrong. I'd just go bareback straight up, there's no need for those silly pads, it's just a decoration.
 

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re the bareback pad, it depends on the shape of the horse. And the material the pad is made of.

NEVER EVER EVER buy a bareback pad that has stirrups. Those are just plain dangerous, and have the added nasty side effect of putting ALL your weight on a very narrow band across the poor horse's back.

My gelding's backbone sticks up a little bit. He is 17 and very long-backed, with awkward hindquarter conformation, so it's hard to get him using his back. Even though he is very fat at the moment, his backbone still sticks up. I do ride him bareback but never for long because his backbone literally rubs me raw in very uncomfortable places if I stay on for too long. A bareback pad is awesome in that situation - I like two saddle pads with shaped toplines (straight/flat toplines will slip backwards) girthed on with either a roller if you have one or stirrup leathers.

Once, I didn't even bother girthing the saddle pad I was using (only one because the pony I was on was comfortable to ride bareback so I didn't need the padding). Pony shied 3 feet sideways. I didn't slide sideways at all and stayed with him so easy - wouldn't have been able to stick on straight bareback. But, and this is an important but, that was the ONLY saddle pad that didn't slip on the other horse I had at the time... so it had awesome grip.

You can get non-slip bareback pads. Much better than the sheepskin ones, I have found sheepskin to be horrible on anything but a horse with a high enough wither to hold the saddle steady even with a very very loose (or broken!) girth. Shaped ones are better, as in shaped to allow for the curve of the back and the horse's wither, because non-shaped will slip.

Regarding encouraging the lazy horse to move forward, DO NOT do too many circles. Circles slow down a horse. They are great for the horse that is too forward/excitable, but will make a lazy slug worse. If you go point to point with purpose and direction, and do something interesting when you get there, you will encourage your horse to be more forward.

I used to have a very very lazy pony. Had to whip him hard with a dressage whip to get him into a trot, and then again every few strides to keep him in it. Guess what I did... I asked as softly as I could, then harder, then harder, then made him pay for ignoring me. I kept it consistent and eventually, as long as I had a whip, I could put him into a trot and pretty much forget about him. Canter was harder because he bucked as well as being a lazy ******* but I learned to ride out the bucks (giving him what-for every time he tried it on!) and keep him going.

The most important thing with a lazy horse is to NEVER punish the forward. If you're asking for a trot and it takes a massive effort to get the horse to break out of the walk, and it goes into a canter, that's ok. Let it canter for a few strides, then calmly bring it back to a trot.

My gelding decided to try on the "I'mma ignore you" the other day. Luckily for me I'd decided to ride with a dressage whip. He is 17 and very educated, and I know he KNOWS he has to move forward off a light aid. I gave him ONE chance, which he ignored, then I flicked him with the whip. He grunted, pigrooted, and broke straight into a canter. That was ok because I'd asked him to move forward faster than a walk. So what if he went a bit quicker than I asked him to? I let him go for 10-ish strides, then asked him to come back to a trot, then a walk. Asked for the trot again and he was lovely.

Funnily enough yesterday I got on and he was back to his lovely responsive self.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Hello everyone. So a resounding no on the bareback pad eh? Seems better that way. He's a teddy bear enough that I don't really need anything with him. Cheaper too, ha. Had my first freeform ride with him and it went really quite well. I'll probably try bareback next time now that the first ride's out of the way. I think he's a bit of a ham and likes to be lazier when others are around and he thinks he can get away with it. Was able to work on my own positioning over a small jump and plenty of transitions. Inner dialogue of 'fast trot, slow trot, fast trot, slow trot aaaand walk. Up to canter!' He was fairly active. I think he picked up on my 'We're going to work HARD' mood lol. Barely took any crop. Took longer to get to the trot from walk than I think was right but once we got there, it was forward moving. Riding again tomorrow but in proper lesson format :) I think week after next will be BARREL DAY! lol With transitions. So many transitions. I think once I get him going, he will do barrels like a boss! lol. Not the greatest trait for an english discipline horse but it's fun, different and I think will help with the activeness.

Oh and I got him cantering solid circles! He has the worst habit of breaking into trot with circles with less insistent riders but I was able to get a few ones with him.

And here he is! :) The lazy teddy bear I adore lol
 

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