Riding a Lazy Horse

Riding a Lazy Horse

hi I'm Kelly from crk training blog and I'm here today to make a new video for you on riding a lazy horse now I made several videos on this topic before and they end up usually being some of the most popular videos and I think the reason is most of us that ride have experienced the frustration of riding the lazy horse the horse that won't go forward that you feel like you have to kick constantly to keep them going as soon as you stop squeezing and kicking with your leg the horse just slows down or stops you have tired legs after you're done riding and it's just a frustrating experience so it may be your own horse that is lazy and slow non-responsive or if you ride school horses lesson horses you probably really know this frustration as well many lesson horses get very slow and very unresponsive to riders aides meaning the leg and even the spur or the whip so what I'm going to do in today's video is I'm going to explain why lazy horses get to be this way how we can start to understand a little bit of learning theory so that we can understand why these horses are slow and lazy and then I'm going to help give you some tips and some specific things that you can do to help the horse that you ride be more responsive to your aides to go forward so that you can have a more pleasant ride for both you and your horse let's begin by talking about what makes a horse lazy so while of course some horses are going to just naturally be less forward and less motivated to move most of the time our horses aren't really lazy they're simply unresponsive they've essentially become desensitized to our cues for going forward and to our pressures from our aids aids being the seat the leg and maybe even the spur or the whip or the crop so some of the common misconceptions with lazy horses is that we have to kick them for every stride we just have to keep adding pressure and when they're no longer responding to our leg then it's time to put a spur on or then it's time to get a whip so that we can keep them going keep them going what happens is as soon as we end up taking our leg off the horse usually just slows down or stops and we get used to having such constant pressure on from our legs either squeezing or kicking that the horse becomes desensitized to this level of pressure so it's not necessarily that he's all just lazy but it's more that he's become desensitized to the pressure your cues for going forward no longer mean as much to the horse because he's so used to constantly having the pressure there another thing that happens when we're constantly tight and squeezing with our legs is that when the horse walks he naturally has kind of a back-and-forth movement of his rib cage it's part of the movement of the walk or of the trot of the canter the horse has some natural swing through his body the tighter that we remain with our legs in an attempt to keep pushing the horse forward we tighten not only tighten our legs limiting that movement of the horse's body and rib cage but we also end up tightening a lot of other muscles up through our legs our hips and up into our body so that that tightness in our body becomes a kind of resistance for the horse going forward so when you are thinking about starting to retrain your horse to become more responsive to the go-forward cues the first things that you want to think about is making sure that you're not holding tension in your body and that you are balanced in the saddle so that you're not doing something with your position in the saddle that is accidentally making it harder for the horse to go forward and then we want to start teaching him to be more responsive to the leg so I'm going to show you what commonly happens here with bandit so bandit is a horse here at the farm he can be very sensitive and responsive you may have seen some of his other videos but I'm going to show you how as I get harder with my leg he can actually very quickly go to being less responsive to the leg and appear to be a very lazy horse okay so I'm going to start here by asking and move forward and I'm going to do what is commonly done so you'll notice I'm kind of pushing forward with my seat an attempt to kind of shove him forward and I'm going to keep a tight leg on him because that's what we're supposed to do to keep horses moving so where he is going pretty forward right now but I've got my leg nice and tight now I'm going to start kicking for trot and I'm going to start kicking for trot and I'm going to kick harder for try it and I'm going to kick harder for trot and you can see that now the harder I'm kicking the more he's just not going anywhere and finally he goes but we have a pretty dinky trot so let's take a look at how we can do this a little bit differently so first thing I'm going to think about is softening my body and actually taking the pressure off with my leg now what's going to happen when you first take your pressure off and you first soften yourself on the lazy or the unresponsive horse is they're probably going to slow down stop but that's okay because what teaches the horse to maintain their consistent gait is the release of pressure so let's actually stop here and do kind of a mini lesson in how horses learn when we are riding and when we're working with our horses the most common form of I of teaching of training that we use is something called operant conditioning and more specifically something called negative reinforcement which doesn't mean that it's a bad thing it just means that we're using pressure and release we put pressure on in some form when the horse does what we want them to do we release that pressure if we never release the pressure the horse never really learns what it is that we want them to do so in this example of getting our horse to go forward we want to put pressure on through our aides whether that's through tightening your leg whether that is through kicking with your leg bumping the horse or whether that's through something like a whip you your pressure on and you keep it on until the horse moves forward and then you take it off initially with a horse that has become used to constant pressure while he's moving he might slow down or stop in that moment but you still have to release the pressure he slows down arey stops you started again you release again when he moves forward the key to getting a lazy horse or an unresponsive horse to go forward is not more pressure it's more consistent more consistency in your pressure and in your release so let's come back here to Riding bandit so now what I'm going to ask him to move forward I'm going to stay pretty neutral with my seat I'm not going to start scooting with my seat because that's just I don't think it feels very good to the horse when we get a lot of movement through our seat so I'm going to sink forward I'm going to apply my leg in a squeeze and then give him a little more time that I usually do but then I'm going to start tapping with the whip what can be very helpful is to think about putting time parameters on it so for example when I ask for a transition I'm going to put on the leg for two seconds and then I'm going to start tapping with the web now let me explain why I like to use the whip and why I'm using it so kind of early on in this training process I kind of mentioned it earlier when we tighten our leg and when we get tighter and tighter with our leg we can actually start to kind of inhibit kind of get in the way of the horse's forward movement so sometimes the tighter we get with our leg the more we're actually making it kind of harder for the horse to go forward I find that tapping with the whip triggers that forward movement from the horse a little more quickly now we kind of need to do a little mini lesson here as well because it's very important that you understand tapping with the whip not whipping the horse so there's a very big difference between doing this and doing this anyway doesn't mean that this is necessarily going to be softer it just means that this is consistent so I can pressure release pressure release versus if I'm doing a hard whip and then waiting and then another hard whip and waiting it's not a consistent pressure and the horse could be accidentally learning to do something that happens in between those whips so for example if he kicks out right after you hit him with the whip he might think in his mind because of the way learning happens that his kick is actually what stopped the whip so in order to get this correct movement with the whip it's all through the rest basically your wrist stays straight and the movement is a little twist of the wrist and and through your arm so you don't want to take your wrist in or out or it's going to make the movement harder basically your wrist stays straight out of your lower arm and you rotate the wrist like this to get the tapping movement so now got him stopped here I'm going to sink forward squeeze for two seconds and then I'll start tapping with WEP you can also add a voice cue that can be really helpful walk good boy sometimes even the difference between not immediately scooting with your seat and clenching with your legs can make a big difference for the horses ability and willingness to go forward whoa walk one two and ease forward now again the important thing to realize here is now that he's walking I'm not tight with my leg at all my leg is off now he's starting to slow down I'm going to apply the leg and squeeze and release it now my lower leg is completely off again okay now we're going to do the transition up into the trot tried tight for two seconds with the lower leg and I didn't even need to go with the wet okay now we've got a slow trot I don't have my leg on I want to move more forward close the leg one two into the trot now no leg now I want him to move forward again close the leg one two tap with the whip because I didn't get it now I release okay now we're trotting around I don't have any leg on here he's starting to slow down close the leg for to good and release and closing the leg let me just clarify for two seconds that's before I go to the web if I don't get a response I'm going to keep the leg on add the whip and only release it when I get the forward movement here he's slowing down close the leg and release and walk okay here we've got a walk I'd like it to be a little more forward close the leg release the leg close the leg release the leg closed release and now I have my forward walk so now I'm able to ride without a lot of tension in my body I'm not having to work my legs consistently and I'm teaching the horse to maintain their own gait their own speed and tempo and you saw even with him it's not going to be smooth right out of the bat but you keep working this way you focus on the consistency of your pressure not keeping tons of pressure there and you can start to really notice a big difference in your horse good boy close the leg and release close the leg and release and walk go boy so the most key takeaways from this lesson here with bandit is to remember that most times lazy horses are just unresponsive horses they've become desensitized to large amounts of pressure from the leg or from other aides like the spur or like the whip when they've become desensitized to those pressures it takes more and more pressure to get them to respond and the pressure almost has to stay there in order for them to keep going because they haven't truly learned or they're just not responding to what that pressure means which is go forward and then carry that forward movement so what you want to do is remember the key of learning that the horse is going to learn from the release so when the horse does respond to your your aid your cue for go forward the most important thing to do is to release the pressure and just like I demonstrate with him if you need to start it again you can but that release is extremely important and the horse will learn to carry that forward movement without you having to constantly squeeze or kick or push with your seat for longer and longer periods of time I hope this video helps you with the horse that you ride if you have any questions or if you'd like to share your own experiences I'd love to hear from you in the comments and as always the best comments and the conversation happens over at CR K training blog.com thank you so much for joining bandit and I in this video and I'll see you back in the next one

25 Replies to “Riding a Lazy Horse”

  1. I don't know if she didn't say this or not…
    but a really good tatict is to 'kick' and 'whip'
    if your horse don't respond to your kick go straght to your crop/whip, as like she said kicking can make the horse go slower…
    and by kicking the horse it may not think it needs to speed up, and if it dosn't give it a tap with a crop and it will slowly come to learn that kicking means to move forward, however if you ride pretty lazy horses like me, sometimes they don't respond to a tap with the crop or whip so you have to start continuesly whipping the horse harder than usual than usual as the horse is misbehaving.

    I felt like that made no sence :/
    hope it helps 🙂

  2. Smh.. pardon the stupidity from a city slicker.. but how much is a beautiful horse like the one in this video.. looks like something u would see in a ralph lauren photo shoot

  3. My Gelding Bud is like a Zombie in the first three miles of a six mile ride, then as he understands he is on the way back becomes a trotting maniac.

  4. I've owned 2 horses– an AQHA and a Hanovarian. won many classes but I just wanted brush up classes on the flat because I stopped at novice jumping. he's got me on a 30 yr old who refuses to take commands!! Just like the one you are riding–any suggestions or thoughts? I've been riding for 40 year (since I was 5)…

  5. We have an 11 year old mare that is lazy or desensitized to leg commands. She acts exactly like this horse in the video. Tried the leaning forward, tried the pressure, tried the kicks and she just kinda lolligags never reaching the trot. My wife wants to use spurs on her which I fo not like. This was a rescue horse and not sure if she was abused. She is absolutely beautiful and I like the whip approach and have seen the other video with using the different whips and crop. Going to get a short whip and see if this helps. Also, the arena and round pen on the ranch is deep sand and she has slightly droopy pasterns/fetlock.


  7. It’s hard to ride Clydesdales I had to ride a Clydesdale mare named hula she was very lazy and stubborn.

  8. this was so great. my horse is currently used in riding school lessons and when i come to try and school him in the arena he's absolutely dead to my aids. going to head down to the yard now and give this a try!

  9. My horse is really stubborn about picking up the canter and he doesn't have enough speed to jump so sometimes he chips because he is so slow. I tried using a crop and spurs but he is just unresponsive. I don't know what to do

  10. This video is old but recently helped me a lot, I actually own a lot of green horses and one of them is kinda “lazy” I’m starting to worry with her since she’s 3 years old, I ride Western and she was trained in a different way
    It was all a matter of communication!
    Thanks for making this video, you’re helping us a lot!

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