Join the conversation! Login or register to ask your question or help a fellow rider.

How to get a really lazy horse to work?

This topic contains 38 replies, has 34 voices, and was last updated by  max_goodman 1 year, 2 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 39 total)
  • Author
  • Katherine Original Poster Katherine
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 0

    Anyone have some tips on how to get a lazy/slow horse to work a little harder? Other than lots of squeezing and leg and a crop? He trots slower than a turtle. I’ve been passed by kids on ponies before. .___. He only picks up a little before the canter and he’ll only do that if I use the crop. I can’t use spurs because apparently the last time they used spurs on him he went crazy and bucked around the arena. I was thinking maybe the Stubben Soft Touch Spurs? How are those? I’m going to ask my trainer her opinion on it next time I’m at the barn.

    Sometimes he won’t even trot if I’m not holding the crop, even if I pull out the “pony club kick” as my trainer calls it. I have to use constant pressure on him and I have to use the crop around corners.

    Any help would be appreciated, thank you :)

    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    Having a very lazy and slow horse myself, I understand the problem and have two suggestions you could try.

    (1) Pic up the trot (using whatever you need to to get him to go). Then before he has a chance to slow down/stop, ask him to go back to the walk. Walk for a minute ot two and then repeat. Trot only as long as he will go without needing you to urge him on. Then go back to the walk or maybe even let him have a momentary break. The key is that you need to ask him to slow down before he decides to slow down anyway. Keep stretching the number of strides of trot that you get before asking him to slow down.
    After a little while of working at this he will begin to understand that if he just keeps going you will reward him by giving him a chance to do as he pleases and take life a little slower.

    (2) Work on “resensitizing” him. Ask him to move into the trot or canter with a very light squeeze with your legs. If he doesn’t respond give him a gentle yet firm nudge(as in “you might want to get moving”). If that doesn’t get him going use either a lead rope (a leather popper or a knot on the end makes this easier) or your crop and give him a swift swat (getting both sides of him) just barely hard enough that you know he will get moving. (I prefer using a lead rope since it is easier to reach both side in one quick motion, but a crop works too.) After a few times of this he will decide that moving off your leg before the swat comes is a better idea! Make the swat just hard enough to get him moving – and not send him jumping and bucking around the ring!

    Best wishes to you. It can get pretty frustrating at times! I hope you’re able to put some more spring in his step. :)

    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    I just thought I’d mention that when you swing the lead rope or crop you are aiming for the horse’s barrel/rump not the shoulder’s/in front of the saddle.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Canter to trot transitions, trotting a line of cavallettis, lots of changes of direction. Your horse is probably bored and these exercises can help getting him paying attention.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I don’t know if your horse is the same but if i lunge my horse a bit before i ride it gets her ready for the exercises i will be doing

    Leramy Leramy
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    The suggestions above will work nicely. However, I would get your horse fully checked out, hooves, legs, back, muscles, teeth, perhaps even having a chiropractor come in for a session. There might be some underlying medical issue that is making your horse not want to move faster.
    Just a thought…

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    First of all have the horse checked out as suggested by Leramy. Then use reverse technology – ask your horse to go slower than he has ever gone before at a walk BUT it must be a collected walk! It is also called a ‘counted walk’ where it is so slow that it is one foot at a time. You may have to tap him a little on his butt to get collected, but only tap the butt. He must not be leaning on the bit during this though!Get two or three steps then stop, then do it again and again. He will soon be glad to move out – then do the same at the trot, getting a slow COLLECTED trot, then ask him to move out – he will be glad to! After a couple of weeks of this, you should be seeing a big difference. If you have some ‘off’ days where he is resistant again, do the counted walk again and it will be all reinforced again. Patience is important here – it is like asking him to do ballet steps so don’t overdo it.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 14Replies Posted: 956

    Is he truly lazy or is he bored?

    It is never the horse's fault

    TBeventer TBeventer
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 22

    I disagree with the collection idea. Truly collecting a horse is the highest level of classical riding. Rhythm is the first step. I had a lazy Thoroughbred who had no interest in dressage. My warm up with him was to trot him around on a big loose rein and make sure he was going forward. On really lazy days i would outright send him into a canter to wake him up a bit and get his blood flowing. Yes, I used the roller spurs with him. Remember that when using aids like spurs and a crop you need to use it and mean it. Spurs need to have the same reaction as smacking your horse with the crop unlike rubbing them up and down on your horse’s sides as I see with many young hunter riders- that is what desensitized horses to spurs. Using spurs needs to be a quick, sharp reaction not a “Please go forward”. Ideally, you should be able to take your leg off and your horse should still be going forward,a quick jab with the spurs will remind him you didn’t ask him to slow down. You want your horse to move around on cruise control and if they don’t that’s when you use spurs. Also, spurs should only be used with intermediate riders so make sure you ask your trainer if you are ready to wear them.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    My horse is the same way. Try this little game i do call fallow me. On the ground stand at your horses shoulder, whip in inside hand. As you start to move forward rub the whip on her side to mimic your leg. If you don’t get an immediate response tap her with it. When you halt, squeeze the inside rein and start to lean back. If you halt and she does not, stay in your spot but make her go back behind you and back to where she is supposed to be. Eventually you will not need to use the whip as she will be watching your body language. Then the whip will only be needed to correct her when she slows down.

    Do this everytime before you ride. In time she will learn to keep up. It works on my mare.

    nicfish nicfish
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 11

    My way is similar to others above, but it is not the same. My horse had an attitude problem where he would just stop and stand and refuse to move – you could kick him, hit him with the crop, try to circle him, back him up, gradually increase asking aids if he didnt respond, and sometimes those would work but it was never a “go to tool”. I am into Natural Horsemanship and I read a lot of one book I found a method where you ask them to move forward from a halt with the tiniest aid, you just gently squeeze with your legs on your horses sides and just sit there and wait. Don’t increase your aids, just sit there and wait for him to give you the tiniest response. Even if he shifts his weight forward, instantly release and praise, if he takes one step instantly release and praise. The walk should get peppier over time. Don’t ask him to go forward in the walk by kicking or anything dramatic – just use a tiny leg squeeze. Hold your leg on until he picks up a peppier step. Then you can use this for the trot and canter too. I did this with my horse and it made a huge difference. There was no more kicking and frustration, because I just use a simple aid and not give up, he learned that I am not getting frustrated and will sit there all day if needed. I didn’t give him the satisfaction of me getting frustrated at him. In one ride using this, he was already so much better and picked it up super quick! This method is all about patience, but its worth it in the end!!

    Here's to the girls who fall for pickup trucks instead of pickup lines


    All horses deserve, once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have a big draft horse. When I first started working her I was exhausted before we’d do anything. Eventually I got her to share the workload. The key is transitions, transitions, transitions!And fitness,fitness,fitness!! Between gaits, within gaits, mixing it up and getting the horse to wait for your cue. Going around in endless circles or around the ring is mind-numbing, but doing serpentines- with transitions on the centerline/ trotting over poles on the ground, things like that get their attention. I do use spurs(not big ones) and a whip because she’s big & strong & I’m old, but getting the horse to listen to you is invaluable. Now my aids are much lighter, the horse is more forward(almost too much so. I’ve had to readjust the timing on my freestyle!) and she seems to enjoy a more forward pace. Hope this helps.
    p.s. Getting the feet/teeth/saddle fit/etc. checked out never hurts either.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I would try to experiment with his diet a little. When I started years ago as an absolute amateur breeder I tended to think that the less my horse is willing to move the more I should feed them to give them more energy. But in time I found that the oposite is through. I used to feed oats or other grain or/and granules twice or even three times a day. I searched and tested different kinds of granule mixes – kept looking for the ideal mix for years. However my horses often looked less energic than those of my neighbor’s, which were just on graze. I was really desperate sometimes. Then I gave up and let them only on graze too. As soon as the the second day of this approach they became very vivid and their senses sharpened. However after a few more days of this diet, they became rather phlegmatic – but in a different way than before. So I took a compromise. Now I feed them a mix of grain and granules once a day and make careful difference in terms of quantity between a day when the horse works and the day when she just grazes in a pen, or even stands in a box. My horses look really happy and behave and work to my satisfaction ever since. Generally a ‘moderate hunger’ is good for a development.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Alright you probably aren’t going to like this because the training you did with your horse might not like this but… Give him a little whip every now and then. Works great on my horses but then again I am pushing my horses up mountains not jumping or anything like that. I use my horses for hunting and using to give people rides. It works for me! It doesn’t need to be a hard whip just have a lead rope tied to your saddle horn and have some slack on the end, when he isn’t walking or working hard give him a little whip. He will eventually catch on and when you go to reach for the rope he will speed up. Eventually he will be working hard. But like all habits they take time to grow and develop.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 405

    I have had the opposite problem, but perhaps you can reverse technology some of the things I do to keep my horses more calm. (If I put a spur on my horses, I don’t know which side of the barn I’d wake up on.) When I first bought my mare she was on alfalfa hay and soaked alfalfa cubes twice/day, plus grain. Pasos are spirited horses and focusing them is key. That diet got in our way. Once I switched to timothy/fescue hay, removed the alfalfa which was too rich for her, she calmed immediately. She was still indefatigable and could go 10miles in a corto, a fast ‘pace’. She didn’t need all that jet fuel. Could you boost the protein you are giving your horse? Try soaked alfalfa cubes? Diet plays an important role in how a horse takes on their work. Perhaps a tweak in that direction will help?

    Secondly, I do not lunge my horses before I ride them because this also makes them hot-headed. Once they are encouraged to run, that’s all they want to do, after that walking is such a bother ;-). Lunging may put your horse into an energy zone, allow you to work on his cues, boost his energy. I have a few friends that won’t ride until they’ve lunged, it is especially helpful if you have a cold-backed horse.

    Fitness may be an issue here as well. Not just overall health, but conditioning. Lunging will also help with that. In early spring, even my spirited horses are slower to engage after the first hour.

    There is one piece of advice that was given to me by my Dad that is a universal truth with horses. If you want your horse to be hard-headed and hard-mouthed, use heavy hands. IOW, don’t use heavy cues – this makes them dull responders. The advice above on using a squeeze is excellent. My horses stand like statues for mounting and dismounting, but once you pick up the reins, you’d better be ready to move out. No other cue is needed. If we have a spook and stop, or see an obstacle such as deep mud or a water crossing, I may have to use a soft lower calf squeeze to move them forward when they question it. I do not kick or whip my horses – but their eyes are on me when I step into the pasture, and they do all that I ask and more, on the ground or in the saddle. Reward the “try”. Easy does it.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 39 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Recent Topics
Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

Learn more »

Ask the Vet
Every week our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers tough horse health questions from riders just like you.

Read her latest answer now »

Download our mobile apps

Put SmartPak in your pocket with these awesome apps!

Check It Out »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-752-5171. © Copyright 2013 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.