View Full Version : keeping a young horse motivated to go forward

Oct. 29, 2011, 08:53 AM
I just started working my young one under saddle and I am finding it hard to get him to want to go forward. We will have good rides were he will have a good walk and then there are days when he is just like no I dont feel like it.

I worked at a farm that broke and trained horses and only came across the problem of no I dont want to go that way but I will go any pace you want if we work over there. Most of those horses had no problem with going.

I have read that it helps if you have another horse or ride outside but right now both of those dont always pan out. I get off work at 6 so its dark out, mom is done being at that barn at that time so she wont ride with me and usually everyone else is done for the night. If my friend is riding she is w/t/c and jumping and I just feel like that is too much going on.

He goes great on the lounge line ( i walk with him so he isn't doing small circles, he pretty much goes around 3/4 of the ring) and on the long lines. He knows the words walk and trot and clicking/kissing means go forward. Sometimes he doesn't care about my leg or dressage whip when I lightly tap him and other times he is grumpy. Even on the ground just walking around he can be extremely lazy. When he walks in and out to the field he will just stop, look around and like take in the scenery.

Any suggestions? More ground work? Try to only ride with someone else for a while? With it becoming winter the footing outside will not be good enough to ride outside the indoor.

Oct. 29, 2011, 09:19 AM
Quiet consistent aids (not nagging though)and many rewarding breaks.

Oct. 29, 2011, 09:29 AM
Quiet consistent aids (not nagging though)and many rewarding breaks.

This, and don't be afraid to be assertive with the dressage whip. If you're constantly nagging him with your leg he's just going to end up ignoring it or getting pissed off.

I wouldn't be afraid to ride him with other horses in the ring. In fact it'd probably help.

Oct. 29, 2011, 09:44 AM
Thanks!! There has been some days I do ride with my mom who is on a stead eddy and she really watchs me more than she rides. My rides are usually rather short, some days we just walk a few times each way and than we are done.

I think I need to try riding with the friend again. Last time didn't go so well but for the most part it was windy and some moron had the bright idea to hang a tarp on the indoor to try to keep the rain out (which didn't really bother him unless it was whipping in the wind). And it really wasn't him spooking at it because I kept him at the other end of the ring so he could see and hear it but not have to worry about going past it. That worked until my horse trotted a little fast, the other horse must have thought something was going on and got a little up and then went past the flapping tarp and kinda flipped out. So it was a bad day!

How long do you guys recommend on just doing walk rides? When he stops and does not want to go forward with a couple taps, do you recommend just sitting for a moment and then trying again?

M. O'Connor
Oct. 29, 2011, 09:52 AM
Are you working with a trainer?

While it's understandable that your schedule doesn't allow you to work with your horse during regular hours, not all horses will adapt easily to a routine that isn't ideal-a green horse that isn't made up yet won't have years of training and experience to fall back on to overcome any natural reluctance to go to work when all the other horses are put away for the night.

And it's not always safe to push the point if the barn is deserted and there is no one around to spot you when you could use an extra hand. When you can't be definite about reinforcing positive behavior and correcting a horse's weaknesses, your ability to train a young or green horse is undermined--not a good position to put yourself in if you have reason to expect any significant resistance from a horse.

You could of course, try to accommodate and modify what you try to do with your horse, but you will always have to take the safe way out and compromise, which is likely what has gotten you in this jam to begin with.

I'd be of the view that at this point, getting the job done correctly should take priority over your schedule, so if your schedule can't be changed, it would likely be more efficient and beneficial in the long run to hand the job over for a few weeks to someone else who can work with your horse during the day until the basics are mastered, and step back into the picture yourself when he is far enough along for you to accomplish what you set out to do after regular barn hours.

Oct. 29, 2011, 10:25 AM
I don't think I have ever just walked on a freshly broke horse, with maybe the exception of very first rides (and even then, if things have gone right, I may trot a little, either on the lunge line or free). Basically for this exact reason. Forward should not be an option, and he has learned it is, both on the ground and under saddle.

I would fix the leading thing by carrying a whip and reminding him he is to walk up with you and only stop if you ask...NO exceptions. Under saddle, you need to be firm but fair and VERY consistent. If you put your leg on to ask him to go forward and he doesn't say "yes, ma'am" give him a swift, firm tap with your whip. No negotiating, no compromise. EVERY time.

I also would get on with things and start trotting and cantering (every baby I've started, I have started cantering a little in the first 3 rides. It may be on the wrong lead, a little sketchy, and only for a few steps the first few times, but I think it's critical for installing FORWARD). Your boy might be BORED, and is testing to see what he can get away with- if I pin my ears when she taps me, what will happen? If I plant myself like a big 4 legged tree, what will happen? I would move along, start trotting and cantering, and get him THINKING. Your rides still don't have to be long, but you have got to make forward a priority with him. It is an essential part of life!

I also, I would ride him with the friend who actually does stuff. The energy of the other horse should energize him (which is what you need!), and he shouldn't be sheltered, anyway. I also find that playing follow the leader with another, forward going horse helps a green, unsure one. Riding in a busy ring with several other horses was one of the best things I did for a very quiet, laid back guy I started. He was very reluctant to canter (could barely get him to canter, even free in round pen), so on about his third ride, while I was riding him with 3 other horses, they all lined up and started cantering. My little guy and I started "chasing" them, and, lo and behold, he figured out how to canter! I would ride with your friend whenever you can and ask her to "lead" your guy around, with lots of energy.

So, I think you have two goals- forward without question, on the ground and under saddle (you have to be prepared for some leaps forward or the occasional grumpy kick out, but still ask for forward), and make his life more interesting by adding in trot and canter, riding with others (I don't get the feeling he's a menace) and getting the poor guy out of the indoor any chance you can!

Oct. 29, 2011, 10:52 AM
I have several friends who break and train young horses that I have guidance from. I do not pay them but they are there to talk to and ask for advice. I just wanted to hear from others. I worked with a friend a year ago with his tb and he would do the same thing but I could wack him and he would be like ok and not buck, rear or what not and we were in a much more open area. I just felt more comfortable giving him a good tap. I dont know if because this is my own horse, I just want to hear different opinions and stay open minded. People often have ideas you would not think of.

I do not ride if no one is there but usually they are there to take care of their horses and not to ride. At a self care barn with alot of pasture pets. I could ride in the morning but the only person I could ride with is my mom, which is fine. My friend rides at track in morning so she gets off when I go into work and when I get off she is usually done riding. But I could ride on my days off with her.

I think he is getting bored and testing me. We do trot but it starts out strong and then fizzles out. At first I was ok trotting one time around thinking ok this is enough but now from what your saying he should be fine to do more and i am just being too easy. I started making him give me a good forward walk but even that requires constant leg and taps from the dressage whip. I think I just need to give a strong tap to show I mean business.

Oct. 29, 2011, 11:08 AM
I am thinking about seeing how much it would cost to send him to my friends for a couple weeks just to get him to work in an open field and out on trails

Just talked with my friend about taking him over to their place. We talked for a little bit about how some wb need a little more encouragement to go forwards than the tb I rode when I was there and the one last year. She also think I need to be a little stronger in my aids. I am going to have her come out and ride him when she has time in the next week or so to give me more advice.

M. O'Connor
Oct. 31, 2011, 11:35 AM
As an addendum to my post above (and possibly you have considered it), if your horse starts out willing to move, and winds up balking at going forward, don't overlook the tying up syndromes as a possibility (PSSM/EPSM/RER), which produce accumulations of damaging enzymes in a horse's system. The work you ask your horse to do is only part of your horse's total exercise, but in some horses it's enough to tip the balance, and either bring on episodes of tying up, or present as "chronic training issues" that even with experience are difficult to recognize as a metabolic disorder.

(more information is available via the KER and ReLeve links below)