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Exercises for the too hot/too lazy horse

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  • Exercises for the too hot/too lazy horse

    I'm getting a little frustrated, and I'm without trainer right now...so hoping some of you can give me some ideas to help my mare out. She can pretty hot one day and then total lazy dead head the next. I never know which one I'll get until I get on. I love her when she is on the hot side, forward is not an issue and its easier for me to get her brain focused then to get her legs moving. Lazy days frustrate me because getting her forward and working is such a chore! She just sucks back behind my leg on those days. When I add leg she gets deeper but doesn't move forward, she's just curling. She also has this annoying habit of planting her feet and not going anywhere. I ride with a small spur to help with that, but she's very intolerant of a whip. If you touch her she'll kick out plants her feet and balks...

    For the hot days I've been using this exercise and it's worked wonders...Part 1 Part 2 But I'd love some others to put in the arsenal for when I am sure she will figure this out and become bored.

    On lazy days, I try to do a lot of changes of direction, big figures, transitions between and within gaits. Sometimes it works and we get forward and working...other days (like Friday) I say the heck with it and work on me as much as I can while she's being good. I rode without my stirrups for the first time since my accident (back in may). It was confidence and trust boosting...but prob did little to improve her with me tensing, bouncing, and tipping until I could relax enough to actually ride! Suggestions for specific exercises very welcome

  • #2
    Lazy days frustrate me because getting her forward and working is such a chore! She just sucks back behind my leg on those days. When I add leg she gets deeper but doesn't move forward, she's just curling. She also has this annoying habit of planting her feet and not going anywhere. I ride with a small spur to help with that, but she's very intolerant of a whip. If you touch her she'll kick out plants her feet and balks...
    Find someone to help you sort out these issues (I'm assuming this is the same mare that you had your accident with, & that you still ride alone) - this mare is dictating how & when she moves - or sell her

    If you really want to keep this particular horse, then find a way to correct her basic training, eg, go back to ground work until you have her forward & willing most of the time, & forward all of the time.
    Working with a trainer is the easiest/fastest way to get there.

    Comment


    • #3
      Lunge!

      I have recently started to work this out with my horse on the lunge. She also can be very inconsistent, but most of the time her answer to anything (unless it's scary) is to slow down and fling her head. My trainer has me working some of this out on the lunge and it has improved our rides dramatically.

      Basically, when I ask for trot on the lunge, I expect her to pick up a lively trot without complaint. If she swings her head around and picks up a lazy little jog, the whip gets snapped behind her. Sometimes VERY energetically if I have to. Any answer that is not FORWARD, gets a bigger response from the lunge whip. At least, on the days where I manage to crack the whip. Sometimes my whip cracking ability is broken and I'm just waving the darn thing around wildly. If she throws her head up in the air, I push her forward. If she balks, I push her forward. If she slows down, I push her forward.

      For me, doing this exercise on the ground has increased our forward under saddle as I am getting her listening to me on the ground first.

      Lunging for us has also helped on the hot days, since she has had to learn that the first rule of business is that we need to get down to business. And that means no crazy lady antics on the lunge. I also make sure to pay attention to her mood while I'm tacking her up and if I think she needs a good stretch/buck/fart/run session I either turn her loose in the arena before my ride, or just put her halter on and put her on the lunge. Once she's got a saddle and bridle on though, she must pay attention to me and get the work done.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by alto View Post
        Find someone to help you sort out these issues (I'm assuming this is the same mare that you had your accident with, & that you still ride alone) - this mare is dictating how & when she moves - or sell her

        If you really want to keep this particular horse, then find a way to correct her basic training, eg, go back to ground work until you have her forward & willing most of the time, & forward all of the time.
        Working with a trainer is the easiest/fastest way to get there.
        Trainer or lessons aren't an option at this point.

        She is the horse I had the accident on, but wasn't her fault. My dumbass fell off getting on and landed on my head. I love the horse, no interest in selling her. Just looking for some added exercises to help out.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Boomdiata View Post
          Basically, when I ask for trot on the lunge, I expect her to pick up a lively trot without complaint. If she swings her head around and picks up a lazy little jog, the whip gets snapped behind her. Sometimes VERY energetically if I have to. Any answer that is not FORWARD, gets a bigger response from the lunge whip. At least, on the days where I manage to crack the whip. Sometimes my whip cracking ability is broken and I'm just waving the darn thing around wildly. If she throws her head up in the air, I push her forward. If she balks, I push her forward. If she slows down, I push her forward.
          I will try introducing more lunge work. Getting her forward is the hard part on the lunge, she's not afraid of the whip so it's no threat at all. Dirt clumps are effective for a while so all I have to do is act like im picking one up...I know She's quirky, but that's what makes her fun.

          Comment


          • #6
            My horse isn't afraid of the whip either, which means sometimes I'm sort of growling and hopping and trying to crack the whip and she's just jogging around bored. She sometimes will flick an ear at me like 'is that all you got?'.

            My trainer also has me working on her respecting the whip more by working on the ground with her. I take my whip and just tap her on the butt. If she doesn't move, the tap is harder the second time. Then she moves and I praise her. Then we do that again. By the end of a few minutes, she is moving her feet quickly when I tap her with the whip gently. That way when I get on, I have already shown her what the correct answer is when I tap her with the whip. It means 'move your feet now!'.

            If your mare isn't respectful of the lunge whip, you might try keeping her closer and doing more of a yield kind of exercise where you are getting in with a dressage whip and actually tapping her (or smacking if you must) so she gets that she must, must, must move her feet. You should not have to resort to the tactics I listed above (growling and hopping. not only not very effective, but fairly embarrassing as well) if she's respectful of the whip and of you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Lunging is just one of many ground exercises that you can do with her BUT you do need to have the timing (for pressure/release) & body position to communicate clearly.
              Videos & books will help, but even just the odd hour with an experienced trainer can be unparalleled (course that's assuming that you have a great trainer available! Audit some groundwork clinics if you can.)
              She sounds like an opinionated girl who isn't going to cut you any slack.

              The accident is relevant in terms of subconscious pain memory that you may still have associated with her, contributing to tension when you ride/handle her - a sensitive horse will react to this; maybe keep a journal where you record both your & her experiences & look for insights/patterns into why she is hot/lazy.

              Comment


              • #8
                I will temporarily open up one of my articles on this subject. Scroll down for the part on dealing with the horse that tries to train you not to use the whip. Hope it helps! Teaching Your Horse to Stay in Front of Your Leg



                http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com
                Facebook page
                http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  i agree with the ground work/ lunging. basically she's not moving away from the pressure you apply, and other times running from the pressure you apply.

                  i would try to develop as consistent a routine as possible, regardless of whether she's hot or cold.

                  you might also want to see if the saddle is bugging her or even try a hackamore to see if it's a bit problem.
                  www.TackMeUp.com
                  'What's in your trunk?'
                  Free tools for Trainers and Riders

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                  • #10
                    If you are confident you can sit whatever she has to offer, I'd tap again every single time the horse kicks out at the whip.

                    I cannot even count the number of entire 20m circles I have gone around with tap/buck/tap/buck/FORWARD!!!!!! has been the sequence of events.

                    This is for a horse who is not scared of the whip, but would really rather not go forward...thank you very much.

                    This is not beating, although after 2 or 3, I will admit to a harder tap or two. Generally this went along the lines of

                    leg - nothing or lazy response
                    tap - kick out
                    tap - kick out
                    tap - add voice - "you will" - kick out
                    tap - "learn" - kick out
                    tap - "to go forward" - kick out
                    tap - "when I say" - forward

                    big pat, while continuing the forward for at least a few strides.

                    http://www.irealm.org/horseplay/geti...2/IMG_9324.JPG

                    http://www.irealm.org/horseplay/geti...2/IMG_9315.JPG

                    That was two years ago and I'm happy to say that she rarely kicks out at the whip, although when working half-steps with my instructor on the ground, she has kicked out at that whip touching her (also unacceptable).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Usual disclaimer of make sure there aren't any physical reasons for the hot/cold behavior.

                      Barring that, I tend to subscribe to the 'ask, tell, make' way of doing things. I'll ask for more forward with my legs/weight. If that doesn't get me anywhere I will lightly tap with the whip. If that doesn't work I will give harder and harder taps until I get a forward response. I've had a few horses balk/kick out/get stubborn about moving, but they all move eventually. Often it is an overreaction if they are particularly stubborn. I've given a few pretty hard whacks, but it usually only takes one or two. I'm never mad and the horse is immediately praised for moving forward. I've also been known to smack my boot and growl to get a response.

                      Frankly, it sounds like the mare doesn't like the whip and has you trained not to use it. Sucks to be her, *I* choose what tools I use, not the horse.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by alto View Post
                        (course that's assuming that you have a great trainer available! Audit some groundwork clinics if you can.)
                        She sounds like an opinionated girl who isn't going to cut you any slack.

                        The accident is relevant in terms of subconscious pain memory that you may still have associated with her, contributing to tension when you ride/handle her - a sensitive horse will react to this; maybe keep a journal where you record both your & her experiences & look for insights/patterns into why she is hot/lazy.
                        I am auditing a Lendon Gray clinic on the 17th, I plan to take a lot of notes. I've been working off of Jane Savoie's videos on youtube as well. They've made a difference.

                        There is definitely some left over fear I'm dealing with.

                        Thank you all for the recommendations.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lstevenson View Post
                          I will temporarily open up one of my articles on this subject. Scroll down for the part on dealing with the horse that tries to train you not to use the whip. Hope it helps! Teaching Your Horse to Stay in Front of Your Leg



                          http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com
                          Facebook page
                          I just read your article, it's a very interesting read, so mind if i pick your brain a little?

                          How do you get a horse to respond to your aids when he's been desensitized to the legs and whip? In this case, this is a young horse who was not very forward going to begin with and has now started to be in used in the beginners lesson program. Beginners are often not firm enough with their aids, so they tap, tap, tap without putting some real strength into it. As a result, this horse is learning to ignore the whip even when it is used properly. Any suggestions on how to work on this problem? (FYI, this horse does know that the whip means go forward, but he usually gets away with moving at a half-assed pace, when he's not using much impulsion at all)
                          Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

                          Originally posted by DottieHQ
                          You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rodawn
                            Niennor, if I may answer - - a desensitized horse requires a skilled rider with a lot of feeling to resensitize it again. The pressure is applied as strong as required to get the forward response and then the leg must be immediately removed as the reward. Further and further down the weeks of training, the pressure applied must be decreased to get the continued response.

                            I have resensitized several - one in particular dead-to-leg horse was really shocking just how much pressure had to be applied and admittedly, I had to apply enormous leg in conjunction with a very sharp slap of the whip. I got forward action alright, in the form of a leap, and so the key issue was to balance through the leap while avoiding accidently tugging on the mouth, whilst removing the legs, and simultaneously giving a verbal reward so the horse learned forward = reward. A trainer retraining this sort of horse needs to be prepared for any sort of response and it takes some weeks of effort. In a young horse, it is fairly easy to get retrained. But a 14+ year old horse well-set in their ways will never become resensitized to the degree that I personally like my dressage horses, but usually sensitive enough for an average rider to take over and have some fun with.

                            I have also resensitized damaged mouths, but that requires a whole different set of training skills.
                            It's kind of hard to maintain that sort of consistency when one week I may be doing some progress with that horse, then the next a bunch of little kids have been riding him already and ruining all my hard work. I'm not afraid to use the spurs and the whip and give a stubborn horse a good hard whack or two, but it's so damn hard when i don't work with the same horse on a regular basis. Sometimes riding other people's horses sucks. I was starting to get some good response from him, getting him engaged, accepting the bit, being responsive to my aids for forward and lateral movement. Now it's seems I have to start from scratch. Sigh...
                            Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

                            Originally posted by DottieHQ
                            You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Niennor View Post
                              I just read your article, it's a very interesting read, so mind if i pick your brain a little?

                              How do you get a horse to respond to your aids when he's been desensitized to the legs and whip? In this case, this is a young horse who was not very forward going to begin with and has now started to be in used in the beginners lesson program. Beginners are often not firm enough with their aids, so they tap, tap, tap without putting some real strength into it. As a result, this horse is learning to ignore the whip even when it is used properly. Any suggestions on how to work on this problem? (FYI, this horse does know that the whip means go forward, but he usually gets away with moving at a half-assed pace, when he's not using much impulsion at all)

                              The training process is really the same for the horse that has been desensitized compared to the horse that is just lazy and insensitive by nature. You have to quickly escalate your aid until you get your point across. Light leg, then light tap with whip. Still no response? An immediate sharp whack with the whip. Still not much of a response? Clobber them with the whip. You want the horse to be thinking "Wow, Niennor is really serious!"

                              Make sure you are ready to praise instantly when they go forward. And then the key is to immediately test them again, starting all over with the light leg aid that you want him to respond to eventually on its own.

                              And it's not really a problem that your horse will be regularly ridden by different riders who may allow him to be less responsive. He may not go any better for them, but it should only take 5 minutes of reminding this way from you every time you get on, and he will be right back in the program - at least until the end of that ride. Horses are very adaptive, and they quickly adapt to the abilities and expectations of each rider. Hope that helps!



                              http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com
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                              http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thank you for the recommendations I will definitely give them a try and we will be working on the whip issue.

                                I'm not going to sell her, I will prob never sell her. Usually when I pick a horse out for me its for the long haul. I kept my first until he passed. My second horse now retired is hanging out down at the "old folks home," and now my mare, so she'll stay. I'll just have to be more creative about how we go about progressing...and it will take as long as it takes. I don't show, I just enjoy feeling her get better and better each ride. I know she isn't always the easiest ride, but when we finally get through and connected there is no better sense of achievement. And besides I get a little satisfaction knowing she isn't a horse anyone can just hop on and ride

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You've gotten lots of good advice on establishing forward, so I'll just say that what helps me get more forward (from a responsive horse) is using cavaletti in the warm-up to get the horse thinking and engaged in the day's work. Instead of just going along kicking and asking for more, surprise the horse and keep her guessing.

                                  Today I did a fun exercise where I had 3 cavaletti set at a walking distance set (in the middle of the ring, on the short side, like from B-X-E) at a right angle to 4 cavaletti along the long side (down the quarterline, basically). The 4 cavaletti were set at a trot step, with two sets of 2 (like this | | | | - if that makes sense). After our warm-up of walking on a loose rein, w-h-w transitions, TOF, and 10-m circles, we did some figure 8s over the walk cavaletti, then did some trotting over the trot cavaletti, then mixed up the two - walk over the 3, turn right, trot over the 4, turn right to go back over the 3 in the other direction, turn left and go around the arena to trot over the 4, etc. Then we walked over 3, cantered down the long side, back to trot over 4, etc. This really woke my horse up - so much so that I had to back off and get started on some boring 20-m circles!

                                  I love using cavaletti in my warm-up and do so as much as possible. The horses seem to like it - it gets their bodies and minds in synch and makes them pay attention and stay alert to what's going on.
                                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                                  • #18
                                    saddle position

                                    Is there any chance that on his 'lazy' days your saddle is a little bit further forward and pinchng his shoulders? Some horses are incredibley sensitive about having their shoulders pinches while others barely care.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I tried out some of your suggestions tonight. I had a great ride! She started out hot, did my leg yielding and 10m circles in walk until she settled. Once we reached trot she wanted to curl and get behind my leg rather then go forward. I took the whip with me today and that was a discussion. After she was forward some other issues became apparent. I feel like our training is Swiss cheese! So we went back to some basics, moving off the leg, into the outside rein, by the end I had two beautiful canter departs ..no buck no fuss no crap, i got one each direction and called it a night. My core started to protest! I needed this, I love break through on her, I can appreciate them so much more because we have to work so hard for them!

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