Many of the riders I know are buying young horses so that they can start and produce their own perfect partners. But, there is one common problem that seems to crop up after a while that I’m often being asked to assist with; their horse is very slow and often ‘planting’, refusing to go forward at all. No amount of leg will get the consistent ‘forward’ that they desire. So, here’s the advice that I’ve been giving them....
Firstly, we need to appreciate how unnatural it is for a horse to carry a rider at all and that he will need to adapt his balance and muscles to be able to do so. This means that even walk can be a challenge but once the horse seems to be walking without much resistance many riders are keen to get up into trot as soon as possible and push the horse forward. This drive for a forward going horse can create a stiff back and tightness in the other muscle and joints as the horse struggles with his lack of balance and straightness. Not only can this lead to problems further down the line, including rushing, leaning and failing to engage properly, but as these riders are discovering, it can also lead to a horse being labelled slow and stubborn.
My advice is to SLOW DOWN! If you want a more forward going horse then go back to walk and some slow exercises to aid your horse’s proprioceptive skills, straightness and balance.
• rein back.
Make sure your horse is relaxed and give him time to work things out. Having someone on the ground, can help if a horse gets stuck to begin with. Try not to rush the walk either.
Once your horse can confidently execute all of the above correctly, you’ll be amazed what a difference it makes to his impulsion in trot. Improved balance will also make him more confident too. Don’t be too hasty to label your horse as lazy because it’s probably just a case of your perfect partner trying to find his feet!
I’d also like to add that I’ve had great results using this approach with older horses too.
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