Nagging and Lazy Horses

Tuesday’s Tip!

Nagging and the lazy horse.

This will be a short overview of ‘nagging and the lazy horse’ as it is a problem that can be fixed, but it takes times and persistence.

Nagging – nagging is a bad habit many riders get into, most commonly in trot. The rider will kick every rise or sit in the trot to “keep the horse going” and this ends up as a habit that the rider doesn’t even notice they are doing. Nagging negatively impacts the horse in 3 ways:

  1. The horse stops listening to the leg aid you are giving
  2. The horse ignores further leg aids that are perhaps asking for more specific movements in the pace
  3. It creates the “lazy horse” that won’t trot unless you nag (it learns that you only stop nagging when you change pace – usually from trot to walk – and so gives you this behaviour when you suddenly stop nagging)

The lazy horse is often not actually lazy. The horse may be unfit, unsure, or unwilling to do as asked. However in most cases the laziness has been created by the rider’s nagging. In order to fix it the rider must become aware of the nagging behaviour (an instructor on the ground is good at this!) and then work hard to modify the behaviour.

Firstly, become conscious of your lower leg and stop kicking as you rise or sit in the trot. Your horse will most likely slow down as it has learned that the lack of constant kicking means walk. This next step is important – you must kick/nudge the horse to keep moving and then stop kicking/nudging as soon as the horse moves forwards. Repeat this so that every time your horse slows, you give a single aid to ask for the pace to be kept and then you reward him by relaxing and discontinuing the aid. This should work fairly quickly over a few sessions and is as much about re-training your horse as it is re-training you. You must be consistent and effective so that you stop nagging, and by no longer nagging, the lazy horse will become less lazy.

Being effective: if the first nudge does not work, follow it up immediately with a kick; if that doesn’t work, then kick slightly harder and give a tap with the whip behind your leg to reinforce the leg aid.

Feel free to like, share, and comment, so I know what little problems you all have, so that I can feature them in a future Tuesday Tip!

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