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PC: Katherine Mustafa Photography
A lazy horse can be extremely frustrating to a rider that wants to get up and go. Sure they have their benefits, but you squeezing them every stride isn’t one. The process will require retraining your horse to become more sensitive to your leg and seat aids. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to months, so saddle up and get ready for some work. These tips will get you heading in the right direction, but don’t be afraid to work with a trainer on this issue.
  • Rule out discomfort: Saddle fit is extremely important when asking your horse to move out. If it is pinching him he might be reluctant to extend his movement or go quicker than a dragging walk or trot. Other physical discomforts should also be checked, such as his fitness level, body alignment, and former injuries.
  • The proper cues: Your current process of getting energy from your horse might actually be hindering him. Are you squeezing him every stride? Or when you ask him to move are you applying as much pressure as you can? This will cause him to become desensitized to your leg aids. Your aids should be quick and light. Try this exercise-
  • 1. Give a light leg cue for your horse to move forward from the walk to trot.
  • 2. If there is a delayed response send him moving QUICKLY. Either tap behind your leg with a whip or give him a few quick bumps from your leg. Don’t apply squeezing pressure, rather make your aid to-the-point.
  • 3. Bring him back to a walk and lightly ask again.
  • 4. Only accept a 100% response from him. Reward him with a pat if he picks up the trot immediately. If not, go back to step two and send him forward with a more aggressive aid. If he breaks into a lope or leaps forward, that’s okay. You want forward energy!
  • 5. Repeat until you get the desired response.
  • Transitions: Once you get your horse more sensitive to your leg cue, than practice frequent transitions. Keep his feet moving and his mind busy. This might include a walk to trot, a walk to lope, lope to trot, and anything in-between. Do not let him get lazy or sloppy with his response to your leg or the transition.
Correcting a habit such as the one described can be a lengthy process. Some lazy horses may have become very dull from constant kicking or applied leg pressure. The goal is to keep your aids light and quick. You shouldn’t have to push him every stride. If you’re willing to put in the time, you and your horse can be a better, happier team!