Sunday, January 5, 2014


I found this article online about the common issue young horse owners face. "My horse just won't go forward" 

Initially this was a big problem for the Dickster and I. I am positive I worked harder than he did in in those first rides. These days I close my leg on him and he gets a move on. Sometimes he pauses for a few seconds to get his legs in order but he quickly puts it into four wheel drive. Once we make our upward transition he doesn't exactly move like there's a fire behind us. On the bright side when he's balanced and I close both legs he does push forward with purpose. I have been getting feedback from BO that he needs to be more forward. When I first moved to the barn I agree he needed to move along little doggie. These days I feel like he's giving me what I need. 

I've mostly worked with young horses who react to a little crop by taking off at light speed. Baby horse gets unbalanced reaction is to go faster. Baby horse isn't confident, faster.  Baby horse has no idea what the eff you are talking about, faster. I am great at the speedy young and old. I can get even the craziest pony soft and relaxed. 

This baby horse is an entirely different sort of nut to crack. Runaway spaz train isn't on his list of tricks. Smack him with a crop and he slows down and throws in a donkey kick. If he doesn't know what you are asking he wants a chance to slow down and assess the situation. If he's unbalanced he slows down to get his butt under him and organize. 

I have to admit I've never been one for a "lazy" horse. And my view of lazy is a bit broad. It includes pretty much anything that doesn't pull my arms out of the socket at the chance to gallop. Dickie is teaching me that degree of laziness doesn't necessarily correlate with speediness. He's always willing to get to work. Even though he might not give it his biggest trot I can feel he's using himself. Dickie didn't like to be on the forehand or feel unbalanced. In fact he hates it. When his behind shoots up after a growth spurt he will have temper tantrums on the lunge. Before I was riding him I learned just to give him time off the lunge until he leveled out. He is athletic and relatively bold but he likes to travel uphill. If he can't do it right, he damned well ain't going to do it. He also has a very strong sense if fairness. If he feels unfairly reprimanded he will slow down and swish his tail or add in a kick. 

I could get all a twitter and assume he's lazy and unwilling. Instead I prefer to look at his strengths. Long term, riding a horse who like to travel uphill and is naturally motivated to be balanced is a good thing. It might take a little work on my end to help him feel confident about where that big body is going but he didn't need kicking to keep him moving. Sometimes it takes more work to get that "forward" horse to get the heck off the forehand and use that big butt. Forward doesn't equal speed. You can be lapping everyone but not have enough umph to get over a fence because your speed rocket won't sit down and launch.

He's not some lazy horse who can't wait to get back to his stall. Dickie wants to do it. He wants too be forward, he wants to move laterally, he wants to bend, he wants to sit on his hind. He likes doing the right thing. He's just telling me he'd rather be smart about it than answer every question with more gas. If his baby brain is fried or his baby muscle are taxed his reaction isn't to respond with spazocity. He wants me to help him out and show him that I appreciate his effort. 

I do appreciate the effort my boy. I think you are going to be a superstar. And well meaning bystanders can't know what I feel when I get on your big goofy back. I love you boy. 


  1. Ahhh once again, Dickie and Grayson share a trait. Bolting and crazily trotting around is not on the agenda. In the past week, I've learned that Grayson takes offense to too much leg and possibly my sloppy riding. He just shuts down. Just stops! Loses confidence with what we're doing? Stops. I've joked that we're like a mail truck...we make frequent and sudden stops. We're now working on transitions again...I've stopped using leg [for now] and I just using my voice and a tap on the rear with a crop if needed. It's crazy but he picks up this nice trot. Grayson's also not lazy and definitely uses his brain more than most.

    I love how far you've come with him!

    1. I love all your Grayson photos. I have been riding with a jumping bat. He seems to do better with that. You might want to try it. When we were first going I held it like a jockey and gave him a good wallop the second he slowed down. You might want to try that. I am actually going to break out the clicker again. He likes that.

  2. Chrome is the same way in that slowing down is his answer when he's worried or unsure.... but he also has a lazy streak if he's bored (which he is with walking). When I ask him to trot he loves it! He definitely doesn't use his body correctly, but he likes to trot. I can't wait to canter him someday, but I have to get his stifles strengthened first.