Speed Up A Riding Horse

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com
from Cherry Hill

Making, Not Breaking
Becoming An Effective Rider
101 Arena Exercises
How To Think Like A Horse
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
Your Horse Barn DVD
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill

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Speed Up Your Horse

    2006 Cherry Hill      www.horsekeeping.com

Dear Cherry,  

     My horse is 15 and wonderful, but he is lazy and slow. How do I get him to have a little "spunk"?  

Danylle from California  

Dear Danylle,  

     I'd rather start with a wonderful but lazy horse than a naughty but Spunky horse, wouldn't you? But you can have wonderful AND Spunky.  I'll help.

    First lets go through a check list of physical causes for low energy before we talk about training.   

     Is your horse on a regular deworming program? Parasites can rob a horse of nutrition and energy. 

     Is your horse in good flesh and condition?

     Is he too fat or too thin?  A fat horse is understandably lazy as it takes so much more effort to move and a thin horse often doesn't have the physical reserve for exercise. A horse that receives regular exercise tends to look forward to it so has more "spunk" than a horse that is only occasionally ridden so if you can get your horse into condition and keep him at a good level of fitness, he will likely be more lively.

     Is your horse receiving enough high energy feed such as grain?  Horses on a diet of only coarse roughage will lack energy.  Feed grain according to the horse's current weight, his condition, and his workload.

     Is your horse comfortable on his hooves?  Whether a horse is barefoot or shod, his hooves must have regular attention so that he can move comfortably and soundly.  Be sure you have a qualified farrier take care of your horse's hooves every 6-8 weeks.

     Are you using a bit on your horse that "discourages" him from moving forward?  Sometimes harsh head gear acts like a STOP sign in front of your horse.  With your well trained horse, you can experiment with a soft rubber snaffle bit in his mouth instead of the curb bit you are probably using, for example, to see if the bit is unduly subduing him.

     Finally, be sure his back is not sore because if it is, he will not want to move out.  Make sure your saddle fits properly and the pad or blanket, cinch and breast collar are not rubbing him.

     The best way to rev up a horse's forward movement is through lots of extended trot work (even if you are a Western rider), loping or cantering freely out on pasture, and livening up the horse to your legs aids.  When you squeeze your legs, your horse should immediately step forward energetically.  If he does not, you can reinforce your leg aids TEMPORARILY with the use of spurs or a whip.  Here's how you'd do it.  Apply the leg squeeze. If he does not respond, immediately tap with the spurs on the ribs or with the whip on the horse's hindquarters.  Next time, same thing.  Pretty soon, the horse learns that when you squeeze your legs, if he doesn't respond he will receive more "encouragement".  Once he learns to "move forward from your legs", you will not longer have to use spurs or a whip.  They are just a stepping stone to help your horse learn to move forward. And be sure that when you ask your horse to move out that you don't confuse him by holding back with the reins at the same time.

Take care.         

  2004 Cherry Hill





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