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  1. #1
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    May. 5, 2006
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    Default Help For The Lazy Horse

    I have owned my gelding for 6 years now. He is a 15 year old PB Arab with a really limited work ethic.

    I often find myself working harder than I should to keep him forward. My instructor usually rides him for at least a few minutes before my weekly lessons, and she has always commented on how he will try and cheat on his effort.

    He is a lovely mover when he is actually working. He is healthy, has been adjusted by the equine chiro, gets daily turn-out and the saddle has been professionally fitted. The lack of work ethic is what caused him to wash out as an endurance horse, just prior to my purchasing him.

    Does anyone have any tips or ideas on how to get a lazy horse moving forward? It seems like no matter what we do, we end up revisiting this issue over and over again.
    Sheilah



  2. #2
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    Transitions, transitions, transitions will usually get a horse's motor going.

    Something else that has worked for me, and this depends on the horse not being uber-sensitive to the whip, is to ask nicely with my legs once and if there's no response, I give a good tap, tap, tap, tap with the whip at the moments I'd use that leg -- but with no leg at all --until I get a really, really good response. You need to repeat this a few times in the beginning, but eventually the horse figures out that he can respond to the leg, or you will really annoy him with the whip.
    Founding member of the "I Miss bar.ka" clique
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  3. #3
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    Thanks, SillyHorse! I just had a fairly decent ride, and used the whip with good results. I'll have to remember to keep my legs off him when I use the whip, though.

    Anyway, progress was made!
    Sheilah



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoRider View Post
    Does anyone have any tips or ideas on how to get a lazy horse moving forward? It seems like no matter what we do, we end up revisiting this issue over and over again.
    Sheilah
    Be extremely picky about getting a high quality response to each request from your leg.

    So when you pick up a trot or canter, go one stride and drop him.
    Completely drop him.
    Leg off, just hanging there limp, heel pushed down and away from his barrel.

    Yes, he will break.
    POW!POW!

    Pick up your gait again, and immediately drop him.
    Leg totally off the horse.
    Dare him to break.
    When he does, POW!

    Once he makes it all the way down the long side with your legs limp and off his sides, put him on a 20m circle.
    When he starts to get a little slower, TAP!
    Take your legs all the way off and don't allow yourself to use them for a full lap. If you don't make it all the way around without breaking, POW!
    Now go for twice around the circle.
    Dare him to slow down.
    If he does, TICKLE!TAP!TAP!


    Every time you feel the urge to cluck or squeeze, take your leg off instead and dare him to slow down or break.
    When he does, POW!



    Soon he'll be carrying himself around the ring.



  5. #5
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    Sep. 18, 2003
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    Aaaahhhhh ... Arabians. They're so speshul.

    I bet he needs to release his back. That has been the issue with my 11 y.o. Arabian and it's not uncommon with the breed.

    Step one is to be sure he's aligned. Put him between the aids and if he tries to evade, don't react. Just keep him moving forward and let him figure out it's easier to stay where you want him to.

    Then start the transitions and make sure they're crisp -- if you ask for the trot it means NOW. Use the whip liberally but be fair about it, so he understands what you want.

    Once you're getting a good response, then work at a trot with spiral in and out on a circle, serpentines, nice balanced corners, always asking for the inside leg to step under and offer him the inside rein. And once he gives you a release (my horse sounds like he's blowing his nose), let him walk, and scratch his neck or whatever he likes. Then start again. Whatever you do, don't just ride him around and around the arena. Mix it up, change directions and make him tune into you and think about where he's putting his feet.

    You didn't say much about your horse's personality, but mine is a thinker and has a very high opinion of himself. It's not that he's lazy -- he just thinks he has a better plan than whatever is it I want to do.

    I've found that I have to let him figure out that releasing his back, stretching toward the bit and moving straight feels good. Then he seeks that feeling. It's hard to describe, and it has taken a long time (much of which has been spent on me learning to ride better.) But he's coming around and it's been a long time since I've had any issues with forward. You can see him in profile pic. He's a blast.
    Last edited by mp; Apr. 27, 2011 at 04:49 PM.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post
    You didn't say much about your horse's personality, but mine is a thinker and has a very high opinion of himself. It's not that he's lazy -- he just thinks he has a better plan than whatever is it I want to do.

    I've found that I have to let him figure out that releasing his back, stretching toward the bit and moving straight feels good. Then he seeks that feeling. It's hard to describe, and it has taken a long time (much of which has been spent on me learning to ride better.) But he's coming around and it's been a long time since I've had any issues with forward. You can see him in profile pic. He's a blast.
    My gelding is a fidget in that he has to be doing something. He wants to mouth the lead rope, the brush I just used, the chair. He often finds it hard to stand still, and will paw and maybe fidget around. He not only wants to see everything that is going on, he wants to be right there examining the activity as well.

    In his stall and in pasture he is easy going. He is never the most likely horse to take off bucking and kicking and spooking at the wind or a bush or a bird. He does it sometimes, but just isn't that interested in exerting himself much.

    As I mentioned, he was an endurance horse prior to my purchasing him 6 years ago. He finished every ride and has almost 400 miles with AERC. But he was never competitive and the woman I bought him from said that it just took too much effort on her part to get him to keep moving. Her comment was that he just didn't have the work ethic to do endurance and enjoy it.

    He very much has his own agenda. He is a-okay with getting his energy up when he is asked to say, pass a mail box on the road. And even then he just gets looky and snorty about it. Bolting probably takes too much effort, so it is never his go to move.

    He didn't have much of a canter when we started working with my instructor. In fact, he would lose his mind when asked to canter and would kind of fall into it and then fall out of it after a stride or two. He just didn't know how to balance himself. Once my instructor got his confidence built up at the canter he really became comfortable, rhythmical and balanced. A lot of that had to do with my piss poor riding, too. Poor guy would contort himself to stay under me.
    Sheilah



  7. #7
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    Mar. 16, 2003
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    Here's the flip side of your coin, the horse isn't lazy, you're being inconsistent with asking.

    Reason I say this is my guy is the same ONLY if i'm consistent with making him forward, ie ask once, then tap with whip, he becomes consistently forward. Only when I slack does he slack.

    You have to remember that your horse can carry himself in a forward manner and expect it.
    I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.



  8. #8
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    I would totally blame myself for this if he behaved differently with the professional that also rides him. She is certainly a much better rider than I'll ever be, and yet even with her up he just seems to have a faulty gas pedal.

    That being said, however, I do think I need to be much more consistent with him.
    Sheilah



  9. #9
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    OK, here is what got my boy in front of the leg. TRANSITIONS! Both with-in and between gaits. My trainer told me to use trot/canter transitions for a horse who needs go and trot/walk or walk/halt transition for a horse that needs whoa. Next, and this is what really help my lazy boy, with-in gait transitions, especially ones at the canter. Start with good canter transition then a 20 meter circle at canter then lengthen down the long side, collect in the corners and then a 20 meter circle of forward and back transitions, then lengthen down the long side again. Another thing that has helped is shoulder-in for four or five strides then straighten and transition to a lengthened trot. If I get a buck, a surge forward or a gallop, fine, it was a forward response. I ask again and bam! There he is. The other trick is, DO NOT NAG! Ask then release.
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  10. #10
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    You say he used to do endurance. Maybe he's not lazy, he's just conserving energy! LOL.

    Do you ever take him out and just let him gallop? I know that helps one of mine when he gets "lazy".



  11. #11
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    In this month's Dressage Today, Guenter Seidel talks about his toughest training challenge. His was sort of the opposite of what you are experiencing. Talking about channeling energy in the right direction and dealing with a hyper sensitive horse (which, consequentially, is what I have)
    Anyway, one thing he said that really struck me and got me thinking was "Think about it. If a horse is really dull and lazy, that will always be the tendency of the horse, and the same is true for a horse like Aragon. This is something you are always going to have to work on."
    I think he's right. I think you can make it better, but it will never go away completely. It's who your horse is, so working within that reality, instead of trying to dissolve it or fight against it will probably be your best bet.
    I don't have any profound tips, other than utilize ask Ask TELL when giving cues in hopes your horse will eventually respond to the initial ask. I tend to steer clear of horses without a natural forward tendency and good work ethic... maybe that's why I stick to TB's and baroques!
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoRider View Post
    He wants to mouth the lead rope, the brush I just used, the chair. He often finds it hard to stand still, and will paw and maybe fidget around. He not only wants to see everything that is going on, he wants to be right there examining the activity as well.

    In his stall and in pasture he is easy going. He is never the most likely horse to take off bucking and kicking and spooking at the wind or a bush or a bird. He does it sometimes, but just isn't that interested in exerting himself much.

    He very much has his own agenda. He is a-okay with getting his energy up when he is asked to say, pass a mail box on the road. And even then he just gets looky and snorty about it. Bolting probably takes too much effort, so it is never his go to move.
    You have my horse's twin brother.

    You have to out-think a horse like this and ride his mind as much as you do his body. Do the transitions and exercises, but when he gets lazy, DO NOT get frustrated or angry or upset. That's his game, but it's nothing personal. He's not doing it to piss you off. He's just doing what he knows has worked in the past to get out of work.

    Just keep insisting that he go straight (i.e., balanced) and forward. And don't be surprised if he comes up with other evasions -- my horse used to go waayyyy behind the bit. Then he tried going above the bit and waggling his head back and forth. It was like he was saying "what the helll??!??"

    None of my horse's tricks were dangerous. I suspect, as you do, that bucking and bolting are way too much work. Besides, his game was NOT to unseat me. Just to distract me.

    Your horse is playing the same game, and it will take time because he has to UNlearn his current behavior.

    When I first started with my current instructor about 3 years ago, it took 30 minutes of a 45-minute lesson to get my horse going consistently forward. Part of the problem was my riding.

    As I became better, I could deal with him more effectively. And once he started releasing his back, we've made great progress. He's in front of my leg and I can get him there in about 5 minutes. I'm getting trot extensions and the canter transitions are right there when I want them.

    For me, it's as much about my state of mind as it is my physical position. I understand now that I'm offering him something good. A horse that can release his back has all the energy flowing in the right direction. And it feels great. Once my horse started feeling that, he looked for the release, and that allows him to move forward almost effortlessly. As long as I stay out of his way, that is.

    I honestly don't think of that as a poor work ethic. I see it as a very smart horse that expects his rider to be good. That's not a bad thing.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post
    And don't be surprised if he comes up with other evasions -- my horse used to go waayyyy behind the bit. Then he tried going above the bit and waggling his head back and forth. It was like he was saying "what the helll??!??"

    None of my horse's tricks were dangerous. I suspect, as you do, that bucking and bolting are way too much work. Besides, his game was NOT to unseat me. Just to distract me.

    Your horse is playing the same game, and it will take time because he has to UNlearn his current behavior.

    When I first started with my current instructor about 3 years ago, it took 30 minutes of a 45-minute lesson to get my horse going consistently forward. Part of the problem was my riding.

    I honestly don't think of that as a poor work ethic. I see it as a very smart horse that expects his rider to be good. That's not a bad thing.
    Boy, truer words have never been spoken! Have you been watching my rides, by any chance?

    Once my balance got better, he did start trying out other evasive moves...like getting way above the bit. He doesn't wave his head around, but he does get it way up there, which hollows his back and causes his trot to get really short and choppy. At first I would stop and regroup and start again, but my instructor now just tells me to ride him through it and not give him the reward of stopping. That is his game. It is called the "What Can I Do To Stop The Work" game.

    My instructor has said that he is a safe horse, but not a very giving one if agendas don't line up. Every now and then it all falls together and for a few strides it feels wonderful. He will let me know at those times that I am doing something right, because it just feels fantastic. Those are the few strides that keep me hooked and coming back. Kind of like a drug addict, always chasing that perfect high. I am a dressage junkie, chasing that butter soft, powerful and balanced ride. He is 15.1, but when it works...he seems to get bigger and rounder and so soft.

    My instructor also started out riding him for about 20-30 minutes prior to me getting on. He was still learning so much, and it helped both of us if she got him warmed up and at least thinking forward. Sometimes though she says that she feels like she has spent the whole time fighting with him for even the littlest bit of offer on his part.

    He is definitely a thinking horse.
    Sheilah



  14. #14
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    Sugar ??
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoRider View Post
    Boy, truer words have never been spoken! Have you been watching my rides, by any chance?
    No. But I've had plenty of rides on his twin separated at birth. So I feel your pain.

    It sounds like you're on the right track. You just need to keep building on those few strides when it all comes together.

    I've had my horse since he was born, and have been riding him for 7 years. To be fair to him, half that time was spent with a trainer who really didn't teach me or the horse much of anything.

    But he's really started to get it. He's channeling his energy -- and his mind -- in a different way. Just in the last 2 months, I've started to get that "soft as butter but powerful" feel every ride. He likes that feeling and he seeks it from me. So don't give up. You'll get there.

    And, as my instructor said, "If you can learn to ride this horse well, you'll be able to ride ANY horse."

    PS -- never thought to ask you this, but does your instructor like your horse? Horses like this can drive some people crazy. I adore mine -- he has enough personality for 10 horses and he makes me laugh out loud every time I'm around him. My instructor thinks he's hilarious -- and talented, too, which helps.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post
    PS -- never thought to ask you this, but does your instructor like your horse? Horses like this can drive some people crazy. I adore mine -- he has enough personality for 10 horses and he makes me laugh out loud every time I'm around him. My instructor thinks he's hilarious -- and talented, too, which helps.
    I think she does like him. She really hadn't had a ton of experience working with Arabs, but she was game to work with us (which couldn't be said of some of the other trainers around here who were disinclined in take on a physically disabled rider AND and Arabian AND they needed to travel to me due to my lack of a trailer). Now, 3 years later, she works with many Arabians and says that she has come to appreciate how talented they can be (especially the polish lines). The worst thing she has ever said about him was the comment that he wasn't very giving at times.

    I could see some aspects of Noodle's personality causing some other trainer to have fits, especially if the trainer in question is of the "You move when and where and how I tell you to, and until then you stand quietly". I know of one person who is a talented rider and popular instructor, but they do have the mind set that the horse is the one who makes the adjustments to the training offered and one size fits all. Noodle would see that as a huge challenge and would spend a great deal of time working on subversion techniques.

    You can't help but laugh with and appreciate a horse that will cross his front legs and rub them together to scratch an itch.
    Sheilah



  17. #17
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    You ride one of them crazy Arabs AND you're disabled. Brave woman.

    Love your horse's name. My instructor believes that the general "noodley-ness" of Arabians makes it easy for them to evade and harder for them release their backs. Who knows? But I love mine.

    Good luck with your boy. He sounds like a character. And have fun.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  18. #18
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    Mar. 11, 2007
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    My PB Arab has always "conserved energy" which can be good and bad. We have learned, like many of the other posters, that consistency with "ask, Ask, Tell" works. Seat first, if no response, voice, if no response, whip. I also reward a lot: patting, "good boy," walk breaks, telling him enthusiastically how great he is; but most importantly, doing something else besides dressage several times a week. In my case it is trail rides, and games, but jumping or anything else would also work. That made the biggest difference. As my riding improved, so did his work ethic, so he is now a joy to ride, and has garnered many high points in his dressage career.



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