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View Full Version : Youngster doesn't understand "go"



Angelico
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:05 AM
I have a young horse I bred and raised on my own and now I'm starting him under saddle. I don't do any backyard type breeding of cute + cheap= crappy and I do have experience working with youngsters, I've been in training with pro's most of my life and I have helped start other youngsters and trained one of my own before (Arab who never had a problem learning to "go"). I'm not just doing this after being inspired by a cheesy movie, so everyone can relax and sleep soundly tonight.

So this colt is three years old, and so far:

basic ground manners, loads, clips, stands for farrier, cross ties, ties, very patient, and respectful on the ground

Lunging and roundpen work, knows the basic commands, walk trot canter both ways

He has been bitted and goes in a big 'ole loose ring and takes it just fine

All tack fits, teeth good

The problem is, when I get on him and ask him to go (using the same voice commands I use on the lunge line) he just stands there and looks at me like, "what the heck?" I've tried squeezing him with my heels, tapping him with a dressage whip, and having someone lead forward him to help him get the idea.It is clear he just doesn't understand, he isn't trying to be lazy. Is this evidence of a hole in our groundwork? Should I try long reining or completely redo our groundwork foundation? Any out of the box ideas?

taita
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:26 AM
Do you have another horse available that you would be able to "pony" him with?
Just make sure it's one that can take a joke.
Try first without anyone on him so the horses can get used to bumping into eachother and going walk/trot/canter in each direction. Then when you get on he'll be more likely to follow his buddy.
After he's comfortable just have the other person let go of you and try venturing further away/different directions/etc.

Good luck

Angelico
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:35 AM
Thanks! I do have a pony horse (I work at the track). Thank you, I'll try that this evening and soon as I'm done stuffing my face with turkey and ham!

IBCuttin
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:43 AM
Have you line driven him? I do that as well as pony my youngsters. It really reinforces the voice cues taught when lunging and generally transfers over to under saddle work.

pryme_thyme
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:54 AM
Sounds like you are trying all the right things.

If you have someone who can help you, get a lunge whip and have them flick the lash after you say "walk on". Or simply have someone lunge you with you on him. He is probably shocked and thinking he can't move with weight on his back, this is VERY typical youngster.

If you don't have someone with you take the dressage whip, turn it upside down and point over his poll. Ask for "walk on" and if he does not move flick the whip (Not hitting him by any means), but making the "whoosh" sound over his head. When he does, LOTS of praise saying "good walk on".
The more fuss and the stupider you feel the better :lol:

stolen virtue
Nov. 24, 2011, 11:55 AM
I had the same issue with my 4 year old OTTB. I brought him and home and when he came he did not understand moving off the leg. I sent him to a baby trainer and he has been with her since last June.

I rode him last Sat. and he has a go button and is doing very well. I know that this is not what you want to hear but even the dressage trainer at my barn did not want to take on a baby with so little training. My baby trainer also worked with him to resolve some hind end issues he had, good solid basic training is important to move on to other things. Not all trainers can take on baby stuff and I also have worked with babies before but I was overfaced with such a young one.

Good luck.

shawneeAcres
Nov. 24, 2011, 12:04 PM
What you have to realize in starting young horses is that they need "translation" when they move from one skill to another skill, that is different but still related. that is, moving from lunging to riding needs an intermediary step. What we always do is the first ride the rider is on the horse, horse is on the lunge with a person in the middle as usual with lunging. The rider does NOTHING on first ride but sit there. The ground person does all the "commands" using voice and lungewhip. Then, second ride the rider AND the ground person work together (comminucation is key here so horse doesn't get consfused!). that is the rider says "I am going to ask him to walk" then the rider asks for walk using voice, and a tiny tap from legs, if horse doesn't respond, the ground person "translates" for the horse, that is, using their voice and lungewhip. Same with trot and halt. VERY little leg is used by the rider, and very little rein, if any. Then thrid ride try and get the rider to do it mostly by themselves, but if horse doesn't understand allow the ground person to "chip in". usually by third ride the horse is "getting it" and often we will take horse off the lunge line (in a round pen) after they work a little on the lungeline during the third ride. Then fourth ride (usually still in round pen), the ground person stands in the middle but the rider does most of the commands to the horse. Usually by end of fourth or fifth ride, we move to the arena and have the ground person first in the middle of a large circle walking and then as the horse gains confidence working more around the arena, with ground person "there" for the horses confidence. Each hrose, however, progresses at different rates and you have to do what works for each. We also use a western saddle for all ground work and initial riding, and when doing ground work we will walk beside the horse and "bump" with the stirrup and ask for the horse to walk. They learn what the "bump" means this way. You can see some of our work here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WfHl3CJAuQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjZe--y235U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6Fte4Gk68g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_35PdtEmFM&feature=related

Lord Helpus
Nov. 24, 2011, 01:55 PM
I am sure your horse is not like mine, but, just in case there is the least chance, I will add in my 2 cents.

My guy was the same -- Lovely ground manners, solid basics -- everything in place for a successful transition to being ridden. No doubt in my mind that this was going to be a piece of cake.

I got on him at the mounting block twice, patted him all over, actually laid down on his back and reached up to rub his ears. Stood up and shifted the saddle by moving my weight.

He stood there like I did not exist.

3rd day, I asked him to "walk on!". Nothing. Nudge, kick - nothing. Had my helper take the rein to lead him. He walked a couple of steps and.... He effing EXPLODED! &(#^$*@^

Bad concussion (yes, I had an approved helmet on) and broken arm and a lot of 2nd guessing myself.

LSS, he did this again (to me). And again (to a natural horsemanship lady).

It was like -- he was fine, but then the circuits connected and suddenly his brain short circuited.

Looking back, I could see how his failure to "go" was more because of a missing synapse, than inadequate preparation. Specialists and I have been though it many times -- pain was the first culprit (hypothesis of an undiagnosed broken rib as a baby that suddenly "stuck him" with a tight girth and weight on his back) -- you name it, we tried to account for it.

I finally sent him to a cowboy who tied his head to the horn of his saddle and ponied him with a big old Western saddle on. If my horse tried to go beserk, he couldn't get away; the "pony horse" (16.2 bucksin saint) would just keep loping along.

My guy is now a lovely horse. I guess his brain has been rewired. But if I get on him after several weeks of not riding, he will still not want to go forward for a bit..... I have learned to GEE HAW him forward as fast as he will go. If he is going to explode, better he do it in a straight line than in a vertical direction.

LSS: Take this "no go" button seriously. Do not let someone start flicking a lunge whip at him!!!

I agree that ponying him is the right thing. Pony him with tack, then with a person on him, but make sure that the pony rider has full control.

It's not when these horses won't "go" that worries me. It's when they "GO" that gets scary.

fourmares
Nov. 24, 2011, 06:30 PM
You might try pulling his head around and taking him off balance to get him to take a step. Sometimes that helps unstick the babies, but I was going to say what Lord Helpus said... some of those horses that don't want to move when you get on will "come undone" when they do finally move, so be ready.

findeight
Nov. 25, 2011, 11:31 AM
IME, Pony horses who have done it for a living? They pretty much can take any joke whatever is on the other end of the lead tries to pull on them. It's their job. Excellent choice if you can borrow one...and get the rider to go with it.

Despite doing long lining and round pen work, a few got stuck the first few rides. I just had another rider nearby when I got on a dead Green one and they would follow the other horse. Think they don't understand they are supposed to go...and, in their little pea brain, there is no reason to go anywhere. No food to be seen, not thirsty and don't need to get out of the weather-so why move? But the monkey see, monkey do aspect of herd behavior makes them want to follow that other horse.

After a few sessions of follow the leader, never had any trouble translating that to working alone. And I never had any come unglued that early on...but watch out at about 90 days when the course the rest of their lives would be taking finally became obvious to them.

cadance
Nov. 25, 2011, 05:05 PM
Sounds like you are trying all the right things.

If you have someone who can help you, get a lunge whip and have them flick the lash after you say "walk on". Or simply have someone lunge you with you on him. He is probably shocked and thinking he can't move with weight on his back, this is VERY typical youngster.

If you don't have someone with you take the dressage whip, turn it upside down and point over his poll. Ask for "walk on" and if he does not move flick the whip (Not hitting him by any means), but making the "whoosh" sound over his head. When he does, LOTS of praise saying "good walk on".
The more fuss and the stupider you feel the better :lol:

couldn't have said it better.
good luck!!

jse
Nov. 25, 2011, 08:55 PM
We start horses in the stall. We put our leg on as hard as we can to get the horse to respect it and once we find that they move off of our leg and respond well in the stall, we then graduate to the isle and then to the ring. There are a ton of different methods and I believe voice commands on the ground are nice, but a horse really needs to respect you in a different way while in the saddle. And even more so, he needs to respect your leg. So I would say your first approach should be to teach him to do that and then (in most cases from my experience) the rest will follow.

LoveJubal
Nov. 25, 2011, 09:11 PM
What you have to realize in starting young horses is that they need "translation" when they move from one skill to another skill, that is different but still related. that is, moving from lunging to riding needs an intermediary step. What we always do is the first ride the rider is on the horse, horse is on the lunge with a person in the middle as usual with lunging. The rider does NOTHING on first ride but sit there. The ground person does all the "commands" using voice and lungewhip. Then, second ride the rider AND the ground person work together (comminucation is key here so horse doesn't get consfused!). that is the rider says "I am going to ask him to walk" then the rider asks for walk using voice, and a tiny tap from legs, if horse doesn't respond, the ground person "translates" for the horse, that is, using their voice and lungewhip. Same with trot and halt. VERY little leg is used by the rider, and very little rein, if any. Then thrid ride try and get the rider to do it mostly by themselves, but if horse doesn't understand allow the ground person to "chip in". usually by third ride the horse is "getting it" and often we will take horse off the lunge line (in a round pen) after they work a little on the lungeline during the third ride. Then fourth ride (usually still in round pen), the ground person stands in the middle but the rider does most of the commands to the horse. Usually by end of fourth or fifth ride, we move to the arena and have the ground person first in the middle of a large circle walking and then as the horse gains confidence working more around the arena, with ground person "there" for the horses confidence. Each hrose, however, progresses at different rates and you have to do what works for each.

My guy was a little slow on the uptake and we had to do this to connect the dots for him... It just happens that way sometimes - Take it easy on him until he gets it and he will be fine. My goal was to never have a meltdown over a misunderstanding/confusion issue :yes:

Losgelassenheit
Nov. 26, 2011, 11:35 AM
What you have to realize in starting young horses is that they need "translation" when they move from one skill to another skill, that is different but still related. that is, moving from lunging to riding needs an intermediary step. What we always do is the first ride the rider is on the horse, horse is on the lunge with a person in the middle as usual with lunging. The rider does NOTHING on first ride but sit there. The ground person does all the "commands" using voice and lungewhip. Then, second ride the rider AND the ground person work together (comminucation is key here so horse doesn't get consfused!). that is the rider says "I am going to ask him to walk" then the rider asks for walk using voice, and a tiny tap from legs, if horse doesn't respond, the ground person "translates" for the horse, that is, using their voice and lungewhip. Same with trot and halt. VERY little leg is used by the rider, and very little rein, if any. Then thrid ride try and get the rider to do it mostly by themselves, but if horse doesn't understand allow the ground person to "chip in". usually by third ride the horse is "getting it" and often we will take horse off the lunge line (in a round pen) after they work a little on the lungeline during the third ride. Then fourth ride (usually still in round pen), the ground person stands in the middle but the rider does most of the commands to the horse. Usually by end of fourth or fifth ride, we move to the arena and have the ground person first in the middle of a large circle walking and then as the horse gains confidence working more around the arena, with ground person "there" for the horses confidence. Each hrose, however, progresses at different rates and you have to do what works for each.

^^ This. :yes::yes::yes: Baby steps.

OP, I agree that it sounds like you've done everything right so far. You now just need to bridge the gap between the two stages. Ours are backed exactly as quoted. The first few rides are completely passive with the lunge lessons continuing as normal -- now simply with a passenger. Once that's accepted, we follow the voice cue with the new cue from the rider, and then provide any additional "translation" that's needed.

Good luck!

FlashGordon
Nov. 26, 2011, 12:53 PM
What you have to realize in starting young horses is that they need "translation" when they move from one skill to another skill, that is different but still related.

This. As a wise friend told me, it is all about bridging the old skill and the new one. That's essentially what training *is*.

See if you can find someone to longe you. If you've installed verbal cues, make sure you are USING THEM when you are riding. I do whoa, walk, a cluck for trot, and a kiss for canter.

Long lining takes a little practice but I like it and have been doing it quite a lot and have found it is improving a lot of things.

I will use a dressage whip, but you have to be judicious with it and start on the ground by teaching the horse a tap behind the leg means "go." Spurs, I'm not a fan of for a green horse that doesn't yet have a confirmed "go button."

In my experience, there are so many horses out there that don't truly understand forward. And frankly I think 90% of issues under saddle stem from that lack of understanding that forward is not an option. So take your time and work this out before you try to move on to other things. It will be worth it in the long run.

Hilltopfarmva
Nov. 27, 2011, 07:51 AM
I break about 10 a year, mine and clients. I do all the ground work with round penning then long lining all over the farm using voice commands. I will belly them in the stall and when they are ready I will belly them with a person at their head to lead them around in the stall both directions. Next i will sit on them in the stall for a few days, not asking them to walk, just sitting. Next I will have my ground person come in and lead them with me sitting on them both directions. If all is going well then we'll lead around the shedrow a few days. Then once the horse is walking comfortably with a lead I have them unclip the lead rope and quietly step back. Horse is stunned momentarily without it's handler, some stop and some hump up and some do put in a buck when I apply leg pressure, but all eventually go forward. I've had them go bonkers in the stall and I would rather them do it in there with little room then go broncing down the shed or in the round pen. less room and they'll usually clonk their head on the wall and stop. Some just take longer than others and if you know what you are doing then it just takes time and be patient. I hate when clients try to rush me if they have a horse that is uncertain and needs patience.