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Discussion Starter #1
I was asked today by a horse owner to hop on their new horse. She's a 3 and a half year old pleasure mare that they have in training with another trainer at my ranch. She has an awesome trot, very flat footed, slow pace and level head. However, its an absolute FIGHT to get her to lope. She takes almost a half lap to convince her to go (leg pressure, voice, spurs...etc) and she will only take about four strides at a lope and then trot or break down to a dead stop. It's then, again, a fight to get her to lope. She was checked out by the vet about two weeks ago to see if it was a pain issue and he found nothing.

Part of the problem I believe, is that the trainer that rides her, only does so twice a week for half an hour. He kicks her butt then throws her back in her stall for two days. I think she's learning that even if she's difficult and lazy, she gets left alone for a few days.

I eventually got her, after getting after her and not letting her to break down, to lope almost a full circle. I volunteered after the ride, to exercise her the days the trainer isn't riding to help keep her from falling into the cycle of stubborn fighting and then idleness for a few days.

My question is - can anyone give me a hint or trick to help get this dead sided, lazy horse moving? I don't want to keep using spurs as she's already numb to them based on my ride experience. I was thinking it may have to do with a lack of respect and groundwork would help. But I WOULD LOVE ADVICE!! THANKS!!
 

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Over and under her with a rein or carry a crop. I never use spurs for forward work.

I always teach my horses a verbal precue so they know that I am about to ask for a lope. This always starts with longe line work and translates really well for the undersaddle work. Will she lope on a longe line?

You can also get off the circle and try to lope on straight lines out in a field, too. She may not have the balance and coordination yet to lope with a rider on circles.
 

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I'd definitely suggest a crop as well. It's really hard for them to ignore a good snap from one, and usually they only need to see it to behave better.
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I'll be sure to try some longe work with her. She's got the training and the ability to lope in the western pleasure style, and our arena has long sides so she gets two straightaways. I was also thinking about carrying a crop with me next time to tap her the hip. Thanks!! Maybe a change in scenery may help her too.
 

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other than equipment (crop/overunder/spur or whatever), ride straight lines, and don't stop the horse or let the horse stop unless you've been traveling a straight line.

if you have an arena or something similar try riding to a corner and stopping in the corner. turn and go to the next corner then stop in the corner again, and repeat many times.

horses are inherently lazy animals, but they are determined too find that laziness. frequently stopping while riding a straight line teaches them that "laziness" is in front of them. so it's an effective way of getting a horse to willingly travel forward.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've never heard of that, but it sounds like it will be effective on this particular horse. I'll give that a try the next time I can get on her! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Also - would changing bits get more control/discipline? She rides in a simple snaffle. She steers poorly in it and though she gives her head but not easily.
 

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At 3 1/2 I think she should stay in a snaffle. In any case she needs to learn to give and steer in a snaffle before moving to a different bit.
 

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i'd work on getting her nice and forward first. for safeties sake she has to have some idea of steering but it doesn't have to be very good yet, so work on that after she's a bit more motivated.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks for the advice! I will wait on graduating her to a different bit or suggesting it to her owners until she's moving forward willingly and easily :) keep the tips and tricks coming! I love to hear them!
 

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I am not a western rider, so I don't have much advise about that but I would be concerned that she is so young and has little interest in working.

If I were her owner I would stop doing that type of work entirely and make riding fun again for her. Take her out on trail rides, or with another horse and rider for a good gallop. Once she is enjoying herself again, I would slowly reintroduce the work you want her to be doing. And finally I would ditch the trainer who has been working her.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I agree. I'm not a fan of the trainer, but I think the owner is starting to see just how hard he is riding her/pushing her. I'll definitely suggest a change in scenery for her to the owner. Maybe I can take her and them on a trail ride or some rides through the field and switch up her routine to get her mind back where it should be. For three and a half she should be at least enjoying her work!
 

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if you have an arena or something similar try riding to a corner and stopping in the corner. turn and go to the next corner then stop in the corner again, and repeat many times.

horses are inherently lazy animals, but they are determined too find that laziness. frequently stopping while riding a straight line teaches them that "laziness" is in front of them. so it's an effective way of getting a horse to willingly travel forward.

This is an interesting idea; that if she knows that she keeps up the lope to a set place, she will find a rest there. H m m m.

another idea is to take her out of the arena , onto a trail if you can, put another horse in front and go for a good brisk gallop. Wake her up. Then have her in front and see if she'll canter under those circumstances.

My friend's arab is very lazy in the arena, but on the trail, that boy can run!
 

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another way of saying it would be if the horse travels a set distance then gets to stop, consistently, then obviously the horse will want to cover that distance as quickly as possible, because it'd get too stop sooner.

happens a lot with racehorses who seem to just want to get faster all the time. truth is they really want to stop, they've just learned that going a long way away and getting there quickly will allow them to stop. also happens a lot in reining when a horse begins to anticipate the slide stop at the end of the arena, so the horse accelerates much too fast in the rundown because obviously the faster they get there the sooner they get to stop and be lazy.

not sure why people don't use thinking like that for lazy horses rather than just resorting too big(ger) spurs or whips.
 

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At 3 she is still growing and may be having trouble balancing with the weight of a rider. Balance is easier at the walk and trot. She may also not be understanding what is being asked. Kicking can lead to balkiness and dull sides. If you opt to use a crop, be sure to ask for a canter first with your seat and leg, then tap her rib behind your leg to reinforce your leg. Tapping her on the hip may produce explosive bucking (instinct). Always use the lightest tap and gradually increase. If she lopes or canters on a couple of steps and breaks into a trot don't get after her. Just repeat your request. It helps the horse if initially you always ask at the same spot.
 

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Everyone's giving you great advice :)
I would work on lunging or round pen with her until she gets up into a lope on the verbal cue quickly everytime. I'm working with a 3 yr old 17hh Percheron/Canadian gelding who doesn't like to move quickly either (I don't do much lopeing because of his size and age) but he's learned to get into the trott at my verbal cue and is getting into the lope a little cleaner with verbal cues as well - all due to lunging and roundpen work.
 

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Another thing: do you ride with a loose rein? If your reins have no belly in them and she has a sensitive mouth that could be a reason she doesn't want to canter.
 

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When you do rider her with a crop. Make sure you carry it on the OUTSIDE. You what that hip in, popping her on the butt on the inside with cause her to swing her butt out. Also be sure to use a verbal command when you do get after her. So next time she associates the cue with the crop, she will move forward more willingly.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
To answer some questions posed here :

#1) yes the arena is soft. It's used for reining and western pleasure, so its kept very well and watered/dragged every few days.

#2) I rode her on a loose rein so she could have her head.

#3) she's a fairly big 3 year old, however I would like to see her put on more weight. She could gain maybe 50lbs of muscle.

#4) even when turned outside near other horses she doesn't show interest in playing or speed.

Tue trail idea is a good one, as is doing more longe work and carrying a crop instead of using spurs all the time.
 
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