Green horse broke to drive, won't move off the leg under saddle. Any suggestions?
Hello all! I normally post over on the HJ board, but thought I might be able to get some insight from you friendly driving folks. I am an amatuer helping a friend with a young green horse. This horse has had inconsistent under saddle training (was broke and then sent to a pro for 90 days and hasn't done a lot of U/S work in the last year) but since then has been consistently ground driven. He's great WTC from the ground, but when he gets a rider on him he will NOT move forward off the leg. At first it was kicking out, crow hopping etc which I chalked up to greenie antics, but then we realized when I apply both legs it is as though he holds his breath in response to the pressure, instead of moving forward away from the pressure. He tenses up his body and stops dead. He will move laterally away from my leg.
Any tips for a horse that just doesn't connect forward with the leg? He understands the lunge/ driving whip and verbal cues, so I'm going to continue the verbal cues and maybe try riding him on the lunge or in a round pen?
What type of under saddle training has he had? Some western trainers teach a "spur stop" where if you touch the horse with both spurs they stop immediately. IF this is the case it will probably take some time and a lot of patience to overcome.
If that is not the case, just treat like the greenie he is. Make sure he understands a tap from the whip means forward, and use that to reinforce the leg aide, starting from the ground and moving to the rider asking. Make sure to praise every try, even if it isn't exactly right.
The driving training, aside from giving him a solid foundation, should not affect his undersaddle cues.
How about just leading him with the rider? Rider uses both verbal and leg cues to get FORWARD with leader LEADING and making horse move. Leader just does what the rider says, Walk, Whoa, Trot, Whoa, type stuff. Leader NEVER says a word, Rider is doing the cues and verbals. Horse may have just TOO many cues in history, so they haven't transferred in his mind to the rider. He is not understanding, and harder asking with legs, whip, is making him over react. Some work with the leader should get him understanding the cues better.
You can do the leader thing for a few days, then have leader just along side, not making him move when rider gives the verbal and asks with legs. See if horse is getting a clue by starting to move forward with no body cues from leader, who can then just follow alongside. Give horse the chance to respond correctly for a fraction of a minute. He sorta leans forward, picks up a leg, then leader goes off walking as well so horse "doesn't miss" the cue and ignore it. You want horse to be doing the first movement of forward, not taking his signals from the leader moving. Some horses are just very reluctant to go forward with a rider and new signals from legs, balance is all changed.
If you think about it, most younger animals move INTO pressure if not trained or worked with much. The harder you push, the harder they push back! Training and time teach the horse to move away from leg or pressure, go away into the "open spot" which is forward or sideways, with no bit/leg pressure on that area.
Horse may be worried, stubborn, confused, not trying to be obnoxious. The leader method removes most of his choices, so he can be rewarded for doing the correct thing. Not a mark against any trainer, but using a leader is making it easier for the horse, lets him make progress to not needing the leader in his training progress. Every horse is different, and after a slow beginning he may just zip along in his learning steps.