Teaching a Horse to Move Forward
My mare hardly ever wants to go forward with me. When I ask her to move forward (with a nudge, then a kick), she just pins her ears back and goes slower. We have already tried teaching her to go every time I kick, and I also use my crop to really reinforce the message, but this usually results in her kicking and still moving slower. Her saddle is correctly fit, and her bit is not strong at all. When I put her on the lunge line, she bolts and will move very fast. I do hunters (jumping and flat), and really need my horse to move forward! Help!
- Jenn C.
Thank you for the detail, Jennit helps in giving an accurate response. I think that you and your horse have developed a pattern of miscommunication that is probably leading to some frustration for both of you, and I am going to suggest something a bit different than what you have been trying.
We have a perfect way to capture animation and forward movement with her, as it sounds like she is moving forward quite well (maybe too well) on the lunge line. Let’s teach her a verbal cue while on the line that you can then transfer for use when on her back. Instead of using force, we want to teach her that the behavior we ask for feels good. Pick a clear verbal cuemaybe “hup” or “up,” or something plain and distinct. As she gets ready to move forward on the line, give her the cue“Hup!”and allow her to go forward. After a few strides, softly and calmly “whoa” her, then repeat.
I would stay off of her back for a few days, focusing instead on the ground work, and then give her a day or two off so she is nice and fresh. When you do get on her back, take her to a spot where she is more likely to be animated (maybe a trail or outdoor ring). Take an old lunge whip and break it so that you have the “tickle” end and about three feet of stick. You will NOT be hitting her with itjust tickle her tush (literally the lightest touch, right by her tail) if the cue alone does not move her forward. Be sure to keep your rein loose, your body forward and use your verbal cue. If she moves forward at all, any increase in speed or pace, let her go just a few steps, then “whoa” her softly and give her a long scratch on her mane. Then repeat just once or twice a day. Short sessions, with good rewards, will likely change her behavior. Good luck!