if a lazy horse is ridden more often will they become more forward?

by K

at the yard i ride at they are loaning out one or two horses for the summer. i am considering asking if i could loan a skewbald gelding called mr. huggles. mr. huggles is a riding school horse but is only ridden once a week as he is painfully slow. my question is before i ask if i could loan him if i rode him everyday would he become more forward? i understand i would need to do lots of work with him as he is basically untouched. if the answer to my question is that he would become more forward any tips on flatwork exercises etc. would be appreciated.

while i loaned him he would be living in a field, ridden everyday and he would be gven lots of attention by me!

Comments for if a lazy horse is ridden more often will they become more forward?

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Jun 12, 2018
lazy horse
by: Saskia

Hello K,
Thank you for a great question! wow-where to start!

First off, some horses are just naturally more forward moving that others - could be because of the breed ie a Thoroughbred or cross will be more forward moving than a draft or draft cross. And you can only do so much to effect that natural way of going. You can enhance it but you can't "take the stripes off a zebra"

You didn't mention his age, his health condition or the type of feed he is receiving. All of this effects his energy level. So it's difficult for me to say if he would become more forward moving if you were his only rider because all those other factor effect how mr. huggles feels.

For example:
Sometimes older horses lose their energy because their dietary needs change or they're having trouble chewing and are not receiving the full benefit and energy of their food. Or there could possibly be some condition that is causing him pain that doesn't allow him to willingly move forward (and not just an obvious lameness - it could be something more subtle)

So I would assess all those things first and see if there is something you can do to improve his feed and health that would make him feel better and more energetic.

So let's say now you've done all that and mr. huggles feels and looks great and he's still a lazy guy. You mention that mr. huggles is a school horse: sometimes horses that are in riding schools and being ridden by different riders all the time and mostly beginners can become quite "dull". This does not mean he is "bad" horse - he's actually very smart. You see, becoming slow or lazy or dull is a form of self protection. Imagine all the people trying to learn on mr huggles and probably in the beginning he listened to EVERY cue (or MIS-cue) that was given to him. Imagine how confusing that just have been for him (and even frustrating and for some nervous type horses all the mis-cues actually make them more nervous because they have no leader and no clear idea of what is required of them).
So over time mr huggles would have learned to wait until his riders asked a few times and with firmness before he responded. Also, the same old same old routine of the lessons can make them disinterested and dull too.

So, chances are if his health and diet is good, if you are a better rider than he is used to and you are skilled and consistent in your cues, then yes he will get more sensitive to your cues and somewhat more forward moving. Some horses, just like people are slower movers so although he might perk up and be a little more interested in what's going on he won't necessarily become a "forward moving" horse if that is not in his nature (even if he is in perfect health). Keep in mind though that just because a horse is "forward moving" doesn't not necessarily mean it is a "better" horse.

Sometimes riders get lazy with their legs when they're riding a naturally forward horse and they stop using their legs and seat correctly and instead just ride off the reins. I prefer to teach people on the slower horses because the slower horses teach them how to use their seat and leg effectively and to not hang on to the reins. Also, riders can "get away" with a lot of bad habits on forward moving horses.

A horse that is a little lazy can be perked up with the suggestions I offered earlier plus by being ridden by a skilled rider that provides an interesting work out that varies in its routine. Teaching the horse to bend and move off the leg by doing some lower level dressage work is the best thing to get them listening. Try to work with a coach that can help you with exercises that will benefit both of you.

I believe it is always better to "push" a horse then to "pull" on a horse. ;o)

Good luck and let me know how it goes with mr. huggles!

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