“My horse only moves forward when I’m pushing – if I relax for a second she stops. Any ideas – please?!”
“I have a new horse. She’s unfit and quite green. I’ve had plenty of experience (5 years) but I’ve never had a green horse before and I could do with some pointers on how to keep her going without having to kick all the time.”
This is such a great question – and actually the whole reason I started my blog. So many riders know what they want to achieve but just need pointing in the right direction.
I’m not usually one to push my schooling guides but I’m going to give you the link to one which has five step by step ways to increase her reaction to your aids. It’s not written for beginners – it’s for riders like you to give you some clear things to do and try so you can set some goals for her and yourself.
So the link to it is here http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/shop/syh-books/school-your-horse-book-1-responsiveness/ and it won’t break the bank as its 99p but having said that keep reading because I’ll give you some pointers further down!
So, you need a plan. You’re first aim is right – she needs to go forward when you ask her – without you having to ride every single step. There’s a great post on the blog here (http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/2010/12/28/be-a-lazy-rider/) which will help.
Your aim should be to have your legs against her sides as an encouragement, more of a ‘we’re on the same side’ rather than ‘get going!’. You’re giong to need to tap her up with your whip at first so she starts to listen to you a bit more. She’s probably feeling unfit and less inclined to get going at the moment so she’s going to test you out a bit. You’ll need to be consistent – do the same thing every time you ride in and out of the school so she knows you really mean business.
When you do trot and canter don’t do too much at one time because if she’s unfit it will just make her feel tired and unwilling. Concentrate on short distances (1 circuit of the school at most) of really positive, forward steps. Even half a circuit is OK as long as she keeps going forward. The more she starts to keep herself going the fitter she’s going to get. And make sure you give her loads of encouragement with your voice – a few good girls work so much better than nagging!
Increase her fitness by riding out and finding every hill you can! Even walking up a hill will get her using her back end which is going to fitten her up more quckly than riding in the school or on the flat.
I had a similar question a while back which is a little different to yours but has some good links to blog posts which will really help you to ride in a way that will get her going at her best. There are too many to list here so take a look at it and check out the links to see which will suit you. http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/2015/06/05/where-do-i-start-reschooling-an-older-horse/
Once she’s giong forward well – and it will take weeks not hours – you need her to go straight. There’s a good post here (http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/2011/04/16/get-straight-to-the-point/).
When she can do that you’ll fnd her easier to control and easier to keep balanced. At that point you should find she starts to carry herself in a better outline but until she’s really taking you forward don’t worry about her head positoin – focus on the engine at the back!
I hope some of this has been helpful. Feel free to ask anything else. Hopefully with a few more ideas you’ll find it easier to get her more motivated. At the end of the day you should both come out of the school – or back from a hack – feeling as tired as each other because it’s not you doing all the work.
Best of luck with her. I hope you enjoy the whole experience.