Is there a more frustrating and exhausting experience when riding to match that of being on a horse who is not paying you a blind bit of notice?! You are on board kicking and pumping away, while you horse is just meandering along… Ignoring you completely and acting as though he is on a relaxing Sunday outing.
In this blog post we are focusing on helping you overcome the inertia and begin getting some movement happening underneath you, by training your horse to begin moving off your leg
The first thing I would advise you to consider if this is the case, is taking a good, in-dept look at your horses health. Rule out the possibility of their being something physically wrong that is causing him to be so nonchalant and laid back. Question whether the environment or weather could be contributing factors or perhaps his fitness levels? Does his tack fit correctly and is he confident working on that particular surface?
Once you have confirmed that he is fit and healthy and able for the level of work you are asking for, you can then begin to look at other factors.
- Has he perhaps been trained to ignore the riders questions?
- Is his rider asking correctly and then allowing him to go forward?
Lets first look at the fact that he may just be ignoring the riders aids… Some horses will only do what is absolutely necessary to do (surprise, surprise!). In a lot of instances, if they are not motivated sufficiently to go the extra mile, they won’t; Simple as!
As riders, often we ride to enjoy ourselves and relax; during which times we can be a little ‘lax’ in both our approach and our instance on doing things the correct way. The problem arises when we ask for ‘more’ and then get upset when our horse doesn’t want to actually do ‘more’ for us; due to our inconsistent riding and disciplining! He is simply reacting to how he has been conditioned or trained by the rider.
On the other side of this incorrect training are novice riders who, whether knowingly or not, consistently do too much in the saddle. Due to a lack of awareness, balance or control over their seat and limbs, they become the ‘dripping tap’ on their horses sides.. Nag, Nag, Nag.
Unfortunately, like the dripping tap, your horse will soon learn to completely ignore the leg aids – ALL THE TIME! So when you actually put your leg on to go forward, he just sees it as another ‘Nag’ and ignores it.
One of the most important skills we can cultivate with regards to our riding is mindfulness. Knowing what we are doing, when we are doing it and why. I also think it is worth mentioning that you must carry yourself, and your horse must carry himself while riding.
The last part of the equation is the fact that the rider may be giving conflicting instructions to the horse. Using their leg while at the same time, due to a lack of an independent seat, using the hand for balance. It is a common sight in arenas, that knee jerk reaction of the hand when the leg is used.
Alternatively, instead of actually applying the leg when and where you should to ask a question, the leg swings back along the horse’s side, and never actually does anything constructive except to shine a 6″ stripe both sides of his body! The rider gets frustrated, the horse gets confused and being the kind soul he is, decides that if in doubt, rather don’t go or move anywhere!
I have written another blog post on this topic, which has more detail on how to use your legs when riding your horse that you may be interested in reading.
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