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Hi there emma.eq56,

I have also had my own horse (a dressage horse) check out in the ring, but not quite like this. I vividly remember one time, where I was riding 2 strides canter, 2 strides trot, alternating between contact and a long rein, shoulder in etc in the warmup ring, all by was perfect. Then, we got into the show ring, I put a light leg touch on him and he shot down the rail in 4 strides of canter like a barrel rolling and generally ignored my seat altogether :rolleyes: He was tense and no doubt, so was I, which probably factored into the equation. That was the first show of the season, but as one of my instructors used to say, you only tend to get 40% of what you had at home, in the showring... which is why you should always be schooling a higher level than what you show.

I think when it comes down to it, practicing in a show environment more frequently is important to make your horse's behavior more predictable. You do say your horse is also lazy at home. I think, as per the previous suggestion, that coming up with a "ask, tell, demand" routine for when your horse ignores leg, is important. My horse is also on the chill side, but when schooling, I always emphasized an ENERGETIC response off the leg. That doesn't just mean he trots off when I ask him too, but that he quickly responds and I can feel a push from behind and he is ahead of my leg. If he pops into canter and is just plodding along, I'm going to keep at him until I feel that push, then I will praise as it is the energy I am looking for, not the transition itself. If you aren't getting that at home, it will be dulled even more in the ring.

Also note that positive reinforcement does wonders for a lazy horse... I had once gone back to retraining my horse (for a separate reason) and one result was that he became much more willing to try and so much more forward. My main approach was to stop a ride directly when he got something right and in turn, I think he came to see riding as less of a chore and more fun. You want to create a mindset that controlled energy = praise (stopping the ride, giving a treat etc). You need not long rides to do this, rather if you are finding yourself having longer rides at home to "get something right", I'd argue that is an indication you need to quit while your ahead. Choose a marker to stop at and build upon. For example, forwardness. You ask with a light touch of leg, it is ignored. you squeeze harder, it is still ignored, so then you move to a kick...your horse trots, but not energetically. Then you ask again and tap with the whip and your horse moves the trot with energy. Then you praise, halt, hop off and end the ride there. You may find that your horse becomes more eager to provide the right response quicker in the next ride because he knows he will be rewarded for it.
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