Some horses are naturally more forward-going than others

logo cavallo il Paretaio
Some horses are naturally more forward-going than others, but could a lack of leadership be partly to blame for your horse's lack of enthusiasm? There is nothing better than riding a horse who is keen and responsive to everything you ask of him, wether you are enjoying a leisurely hack or working towards a competition. Although it takes a fair amount of training to create a horse who is sucjh a pleasure to ride, that's not all it requires - leadership plays a huge part, too.

If you've got the type of horse who is naturally laid-back rather than forward-going, your challenge will always be finding ways to sharpen him up a bit. But regardless of what type of horse you have, there comes a point when he must follow your lead, and respond to and respect your aids, so that your rides are pleasurable and safe for both of you.

Why leadership affects enthusiasm

When you put your leg and your horse goes forward, that's a good start - he understands what the aid means. However, one day the situation will arise where you need him to push rather than step forward. The difference between a step forward and a push is when your horse engages his muscles and pushes forward instantly, rather than responding in two or three strides.

Your horse will only push if he respects you and you are prepared to lead. If he's not pushing, he's doing things on his terms, not yours, and one kick gradually becomes two kicks, than three, four or five, and before you know it, you can't move your horse. It's a grey area where lots of people get stuck, but I am going to show you how to solve it.

How to perfect the push

When your horse is less than enthusiastic, it's easy to slip into the habit of using your legs all the time in an effort to keep him going. The trouble is , this can be annoying for your horse and it often doesn't achieve anything, as he learns to tune out your leg aid, becoming dead to the leg. Ideally, he should push positively forward from one light squeeze of the leg, it shouldn't take two or three good nudges to get him going.

When you ask him to move up a pace, ask nicely once by applying slight pressure with your calf. Don't use too much leg - if you want him to learn to move off a light cue, you've got to give a light cue.

If he doesn't respond to your leg, gently tap him with your whip behind your leg to say "Hey, listen!". When you use the whip, make sure it's instant and that you mean it.

A lot of horses who are behind the leg will fall out of the pace after a few strides. If this happens, ask again in the same way - a gentle squeeze with the leg, quickly followed up with the whip if he doesn't respond, then leave him alone once you get the right reaction and reward. If you stick to this sequence, all you have to do to get an instant push is to give a gentle squeeze.
Uncategorized, News
Staff Il Paretaio 2017-01-03