Jason Webb of Australian Horse Training is a renowned UK based horse trainer with a passion for starting young horses, solving equine problems and teaching riders of all abilities and ambitions how to develop and strengthen the partnership they have with their horses. Here he helps one reader with a horse who hates hacking out alone.
Question: I have a horse who won’t hack out alone. He stops and refuses to move forward, regardless of what you try to do. I’ve tried kicking, whip behind the saddle, getting off and leading him, but nothing works. He won’t go unless he’s with another horse! Once he’s out, though, he will be ridden ahead of the group. When I first bought him he would only ever follow in behind, so we have made some progress.
Jason Answers: With a habit like this you may need some expert help to get you started. A horse that learns an evasion like this believes with all their heart that leg + direction means stop or go the other way, and they will be prepared to defend that belief. This is why undoing is always more difficult than teaching.
My first port of call would be to check to see how responsive my horse is to a forward cue. The easiest way to do this is to do some mounted games type exercises. Seeing if you can beat someone else makes it more interesting! You’ll probably find he’s not that good at it, but riding him with more urgency like this will certainly help your case. When urging him forward, be careful not to get ahead of his movement by throwing yourself forward to quickly – this is the root cause of most horses not going forwards. If you get ahead (or in some cases behind) their movement with your upper body, means you won’t be balanced, your timing will be out and it will be difficult to generate the energy needed to keep your horse underneath you.
The other thing you would need is to be able to steer your horse with one rein, making sure your horse’s hind legs move out and around through this turn.
Hope these three things help Steve. For more info go to www.yourhorsemanship.com