I'm a long time saddle seat and hunt seat rider, just dipping my toes into the stock horse world recently. My friend is injured right now, so the task of working her 4yo Paint WP mare has come my way since my show horse is on stall rest with a tendon injury.
The mare was pulled out of training, had a couple months of light work and daily turn out, and then the pasture situation got untenable (lots of ice) so has since been stalled, no turnout, no increase in her workouts though due to friend's schedule. She's turned into flab and is now having a hard time getting comfortable in a consistent jog and lope as a result.
She just plain needs condition before she gets asked to slow down a ton (she's naturally slow, it's just that it's not a "strong" slow- it's a sloppy shuffly slow). To get some condition back up, I've started asking her to trot up on the long line and she's pretty good with that. But I have NO luck encouraging her to do that under saddle. I'm pretty new to riding a horse with a spur stop and it still feels unnatural to me. Obviously, any sort of leg or seat yeilds a slow down, so I'm at a loss. I don't want her to lose the spur stop because she will be shown in WP..... but she needs to go forward and get strong first.
Any suggestions on things to try to get this mare moving forward? It's like the "go" button is broken on her, slow has been so drilled into her.
I use alternating leg pressure as a cue to move out. Right, left, right, left, cluck and an active seat and my mare moves out. Then a squeeze with both legs and slow seat to bring back down to jog. A many time Wp world champion gave me that at a clinic. Has worked great
I should add its a bumping leg, not a holding pressure. Bump, bump with your legs. The bumping should mean forward, the squeeze slow or stop.
Post., it will encourage her to move out. I always did lots of long trotting as a warm up. After a big trot to loosen up my horse would be ready, focused and ready to jog. Clucking is a universial move forward clue. Kiss to lope.
My horse easily understands that posting means longer trot, sitting means slow down. I agree with the alternate leg; I use that for extending the walk without jogging, which horses also easily understand. 'Extend the walk' is being asked for in the big shows as a crawl antidote, and many break gait.
I never understood the "applying leg or spur"to slow a horse down concept.I'd love to understand the method.Not being snarky...really am interested,txs!
I think the original reason was to discourage the horse from getting strung out and rolling to a disorganized stop when you took your foot off the gas. Keeping some leg on is a way to encourage the horse to stay collected and engaged as you hit the brakes. A smart horse would figure out the difference between the squeeze that means "go" and the squeeze that means "slow down without falling to pieces."
Of course, some people then proceeded to remove the "go" part of the experience entirely. Can't explain that one to you.
It is just a cue. Reiners take their leg OFF and their horses stop. You could teach your horse to stop by pressing your knuckles into their withers; pull the reins ... stop. squeeze the legs ... stop. refine it and you get slow. I use "legs" since I don't use spurs and I think adding the "spur" stop gives it a bad rap. It has its problems when people "ride the brakes" or are always going to the leg or spur to slow. Just like its a problem when others "ride the brakes" and hold onto the reins to try slow the horse. Its a real art to ride correctly! Its a retraining for the RIDER to go from riding regular to spur-trained. THe horses trained that way can be a bit handicapped if they go to a rider who doesn't understand that training. They just have to learn different cues.
I was going to respond to appstarz - I agree with her first post. The alternate leg is more than just a 'cue' - it makes sense to the horse to help a horse move out. Also the motion of the seat to slow or increase. The both legs on is also natural to the horse as it blocks the shoulderblades - so they are more than cues, they are aids. (Both legs, meaning the whole leg, not just calf).
Now, a spur stop seems like an oxymoron, but I'm not a western rider.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
I've kept feet firmly planted in both western and english worlds for a while. A spur stop of much more of a squeezing action then anything else so just don't plan on lifting her rib cage with your legs and driving her forward, leg pressure is going to encourage her to slow down. I trained my mare with a spur stop, sort of... She does reining now (long story). To ask her to move out, just try everything everyone is saying above and don't squeeze your legs together at the same time. Hope that helps. Good luck