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Old 08-24-2009, 09:04 PM  
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Training a lazy horse help?

I've had my quarter horse mare for a few months now. I love the fact that she's not spooky at all and seems to have no fright/flight instinct (except for cows).
She just turned four and I had a trainer put a month on her in May. Since then I've had another trainer where we board put some miles on her and focus on collecting and getting her to move more freely. I've been just riding her and teaching her things like moving off the leg, starting to turn on the haunch, better stops and turns, etc.
Here's my problem. She's become resistant and lazy. I have to keep my legs on her at all times just to keep her going or she slows to a stop. She's doing things like tonight she decided she wouldn't turn right. Left turns were no problem but she just wouldn't turn right. I worked her through it and she started to do it but this is the kind of attitude I've been getting.
The woman who was working on her collecting said she was starting to get the same thing but she hasn't ridden her now for two weeks and I decided to not have her ride her anymore.
A friend tried her out last week and found that as long as she's moving quickly she pays attention but as soon as you slow down she gets doggy and disinterested.
Any suggestions?
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:27 PM  
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One of the things Clinton Anderson recommends with a lazy horse is when it slows/bogs down, make it REALLY work while stopped...ie circles, yielding hindquarters, backing up, and then it'll be like a vacation to go slowly forward...
Using a whip to tap their butt before they slow down completely may help as well.
As far as turning right...a LOT of lateral flexion on that side will help her bend...
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:46 PM  
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Another thing he recommends is training your horse to maintain his/her speed. If they slow down, you give cues to speed up. The cues always increase with intensity, until you get the response you want. So, if you squeeze with your leg, get no response, you tap with whip. Everytime the horse goes faster/slower, then you cue again to maintain the speed.

Also, maybe the horse is getting bored with training. Have you tried changing her environment it maintain her interest?
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:46 PM  
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Sounds like a great idea Dru if the horse is confident and its hesitation is a big raspberry to the handler because the handler isn't seen as a leader. Being more assertive and insistent may very well show leadership. It all depends upon how the horse responds if you try it.

On the other hand, this horse is new to its surroundings and handlers so its possible that is a show of underconfidence or fear. Unless you know what the horse is feeling, its pretty tough to know what the right thing to do is.

But heck, what do I know, last time I tried to give advice I got told that I wasn't knowledgable enough. So take it for what my five years of studying horse behavior is worth
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:49 PM  
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Has anyone else noticed, that if they are dealing with a lazy/unmotivated horse that sometimes to get out of work they start bucking? I had a 6 year old appy/morgan gelding do that to me when I asked him to lope, and every ride just got worse until my husband tuned him in. Then I had a boarder here with a very laid back, perfected first horse until she started to get more confident and asking more of him. He first started to try and evade work and then he took to out right bucking. She was boarding closer to her home by this time and ended up selling him.
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:53 PM  
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Has anyone else noticed, that if they are dealing with a lazy/unmotivated horse that sometimes to get out of work they start bucking? I had a 6 year old appy/morgan gelding do that to me when I asked him to lope, and every ride just got worse until my husband tuned him in. Then I had a boarder here with a very laid back, perfected first horse until she started to get more confident and asking more of him. He first started to try and evade work and then he took to out right bucking. She was boarding closer to her home by this time and ended up selling him.
I've noticed this. I think they are trying to get out of work. Once they know that bucking makes the owner stop riding/working with them, then they try that tactic all the time. My horse will do it while lounging. He is a beast when it comes to cantering. He just doesn't want to go! If he bucks, he gets told to move even faster.

edited to add: sometimes there can be an issue with pain and that is why they buck to avoid work, I know someone will say that. That is not the problem in my case.
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:59 PM  
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All horses want to get out of work. It only makes sense. But the response kinda shows you that you're putting on too much pressure, which in my world is something to be avoided. My philosophy is to figure out how to get the horse to want to do what you ask rather than get the horse to do what you want. So if you ask little things and get good rapport then you have the permission and their attention to ask the bigger things. Why get things all pissy if you don't have to?
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:03 PM  
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I have noticed it in some cases. I notice it more if I'm riding without a whip, or need to use a really strong leg. The buck seems to be more of a reaction to the strong leg than to work in general. If I get a horse like this in I go back to step one and make sure my leg means something. I don't use a continuous leg, I ask, remove leg, if the horse slows down or gets sluggish they get tapped with a crop. Same thing for upward transitions, ask with light leg once, if they don't move off immediately, pop them with a crop. I do this type of work until the horse is going forward off of light/medium leg and maintaining pace on his own.
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:05 PM  
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Sounds like you really know how to read a horse misstishus
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:13 PM  
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I don't think all horses want to get out of work. In fact, I think the horses I work welcome the diversion and look forward to it as long as the work is interesting and fair.

I also don't think horses by nature are lazy; evolution would not be kind to a lazy prey animal! Rather lazy horses are usually created.

Warmbloods for example can come across as lazy when they have too much pressure put on them...they evolved where their predators were well organized group hunters, so to survive they needed to conserve their energy. As such, when you pressure/nag a warmblood, they tend to slow to conserve energy.

Hot blooded breeds evolved with fast but solitary predators, so they tend to react to pressure quickly and with speed (sometimes blind speed). This type of horse tends to get lazy when faced with conflicting signals from its rider; such as pushing forward into a restrictive hand (saying go and whoa at the same time), the rider saying go while having a restrictive/locked seat, the saddle not fitting, or other pain type issues.

QH, although mellowish, tend to react more like hot breeds, and so with your horse, I think the problem would be conflicting signals. I would check saddle fit and riding style first. If you are giving conflicting signals, and punish the horse for slowing, then that is where you get the horse that bucks, rears, or hates to work.

My favourite excercise for this problem, is passanger type riding. Just allow the horse to do what it wants (within reason) and follow the motion with your hips as well as you can. Make sure that any commands you give are very clear, and that you are not giving signals that your horse may interpret as conflicting. Remember, what matters is how your horse interprets the signals, not the intention...so perhaps the method in which the trainer is asking for "collection" is not a method that this horse understands, or is physically ready for.

I am in the process of writing something about the supposed lazy horse as I have "cured" a few this year...it is one of the easier things to fix once the rider accepts that the flaw isn't with the horse.

Karen
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:24 AM  
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Very well thought out EA. I think the "lazy" comes from "if it means something to me" I'll do it, othewise I won't because I will need my energy and reserves for running away from a predator. That's always top on their mind. I bet horses do like a diversion, but I gotta figure they'd prefer being on the wide open prairie than doing a sidepass in an arena.

But horses are very social creatures and they want to bond with us, its their nature. And that's why making a horse do something by taking advantage of their nature is not at all the same as understanding the horse's nature and working with them. If they bond with us and we don't understand them and aren't able to show them that we can protect them, then they aren't gonna have a lot of confidence in us, whether they're confident in themselves or not.

I believe for the most part when a horse sees us as someone who is looking out for their welfare aka herd leader, then its very natural to follow directions. We can do that two ways, communicating with the horse to show him what we want or directing him through coercion. It can look very similar because a fearful horse is a dangerous horse because he's taking action without regard to our safety and a confident horse who is challenging our authority can be dangerous because he is taking action without regard to our safety.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:39 AM  
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i agree with the above post, conflicting signals could be causing , check saddle fit, try riding bareback(if possible). or maybe she's just young and not quite mentally ready for hard work? you could try diversifying, more trails, different excercises. my young horses get around 1/2 hour in the arena, then trails or around the yard, just to keep thier attention focused with out frustrating them(short attention spans). this way we allways end on a good note.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:49 AM  
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I have seen young horses who have had too much pressure put on them and they either shut down or blow up. Just a thought....
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:33 PM  
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Wow, you guys, thank you for all the thought put into your answers.
There are several things I should clarify, if I can remember everything that was said.
If I ride her outside she's much happier but is busy looking around or trying to eat so it's dificult to train her out there, too. She hasn't been in training for long enough periods of time to have become arena sour. The woman who worked on her collecting only rode twice a week for an hour at a time.
I have ridden her bareback and with another saddle as well as an english saddle to see if tack fit was a problem- this was when she didn't move out well- and my saddle fits her fine.
She's never been punished for going too slow but I do have to keep either squeezing her or bumping her and I'm worried she's going to get insensitive to it.
She is able to turn to the right and we already work on bending exercises, she just didn't want to do it. Actually, it got to the point where I had her head pulled right around and she was still walking to the left. I started with asking her, though, and she just didn't want to do it.
I did get her to turn right when I switched to doing a pattern, she just wouldn't do circles. And I guess I shouldn't say that she's lazy, she's more resistant.
Someone mentioned quiet horses who buck when pushed. I agree with that but not regarding my horse. I've seen a lot of 'kid' or 'beginner' horses who will blow up when pushed to do something. My horse hasn't been ridden long enough to have developed that kind of attitude, though.
My horse is just terribly unmotivated. My last horse had a lot of try and this new one just doesn't. She's sweet and friendly and loves people and is a joy to be around but she has zero interest in doing anything beyond standing there with me on her back.
I think that trying to get her to learn something new is just annoying to her. She has no work ethic.
I tried using the crop to motivate her to get moving but she only does it for a few steps and then she dogs it again. Very frustrating.
I realize she's likely bored but, bored or not, she needs to still be obedient. My gelding that I loved hated being ridden inside and would go slow and act like he wasn't interested but he still did what I asked.
Sorry, I'm just going on and on. I'm so disappointed in this aspect of her personality.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:12 PM  
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Sounds like a great idea Dru if the horse is confident and its hesitation is a big raspberry to the handler because the handler isn't seen as a leader. Being more assertive and insistent may very well show leadership. It all depends upon how the horse responds if you try it.

On the other hand, this horse is new to its surroundings and handlers so its possible that is a show of underconfidence or fear. Unless you know what the horse is feeling, its pretty tough to know what the right thing to do is.

But heck, what do I know, last time I tried to give advice I got told that I wasn't knowledgable enough. So take it for what my five years of studying horse behavior is worth
True enough...my comment was directed at the "truly" lazy horse..
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:16 PM  
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Originally Posted by EquineAlberta View Post

I am in the process of writing something about the supposed lazy horse as I have "cured" a few this year...it is one of the easier things to fix once the rider accepts that the flaw isn't with the horse.

Karen
I'll look forward to reading that..keep us updated...
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:15 PM  
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Dru knows the lazy horse, I suppose that's from you two sitting around eating potato chips and watching TV, huh? Where did that come from? Anyway, I've noticed that you're a pretty perceptive person.

I think what you're describing Northern is very common. There's lotsa horses like that. They kinda get folks flummoxed because while they get appreciated for their calm demeanor and short spook distance by the same token people call 'em lazy. Its not that they're lazy as unmotivated. You just said it yourself, they love being out of the arena and the arena bores 'em to tears.

But saying that because they're not paying attention means you can't train them means that you aren't interesting enough. Sorry, don't mean to be rude or impolite but the reason I know this is because I have the same issue with two of my horses. One is what others call lazy but when we are connected, when I am truly responding appropriately to the signals he's giving me, then we are so much in sync that I only have to think about what I want and he responds. But if I pay too much attention on him and not enough on what we're doing, then my energy goes down and he gets bored and I'm standing over there going, "HEY REMEMBER IT'S MEEE!!!"

One of my other horses doesn't pay attention to me when I'm boring either but instead of coming off lazy, she comes off as disrespectful because her mind is a whirlwind of activity and she'll just jolly well come up with something else to do. I have a hard time being interesting again when I'm focused too much on what I want her to do and not enough on how I'm asking her and being appropriate with her.

In both cases my focus is on the communication back and forth and not on the task. Its challenging as I get very task oriented, but when I get in tune with the horse then its magic.

I will say the nice thing about "lazy" horses is that they will wait around for you to figure things out, they're very forgiving and you don't tend to get run over while you're learning
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:30 PM  
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Dru knows the lazy horse, I suppose that's from you two sitting around eating potato chips and watching TV, huh? Where did that come from? Anyway, I've noticed that you're a pretty perceptive person.

Well, my 2 year old QH rescue sure would.. compared to the Arabs, she's in a coma, and wouldn't mind a bucket-O-chips and some Mr. Ed...with her hooves crossed while her sizable posterior was planted comfortably...
Neither would I..it seems SO far away...
Even so, the lazier horses I was referring to, were others I worked with in the past. Not bad horses, just not AS motivated as some...
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Old 08-26-2009, 07:23 AM  
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Not motivated, hit that nail on the head, but then that's also a good thing. I started riding again after many years out of the saddle and I was sooooo nervous. The good ol' joe that helped me get over that wouldn't of had a problem standing still all day long I really had to get my leadership skills in gear to get him to go down the road. Some days it was all I could do to leave the yard. And for me being a leader is going to look different than other folks too. But thank goodness for the horse's high perceptivity, they know when you know what you're doing. And not all horses mind if a person comes off nervous if they show that even with the nervousness they're in command.
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:07 PM  
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I totally agree that she finds me boring. And being in the arena and being trained completely dull.
One of the reasons I say she's a lazy horse is because even when I let her out with other horses and they're running around and being silly she never goes as fast or gets into the same sill frame of mind. Just a few half-hearted bucks and mostly trotting. And she stops and watches the other horses after the first few minutes.

I have some arena exercises printed off but any other ideas to make things more interesting for her? Things where she could learn something while enjoying herself? Keep in mind that I had a wreck several years ago and I still don't have my confidence back so doing anything that involves riding fast is out of the question.
Thank you!
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