“Everyone struggles with impulsion at some time or another and in fact, even forward-going horses can be lazy!” says Michael Peace in his latest feature in March Horse&Rider.
Here, Michael helps Chris to get her 15-year-old cob, Guinness, sharper off her leg. Says Chris: “I have got into the habit of nagging him with my legs and, as a result of this, he has become slower and more shuffly.”
Get a move on!
Michael showed Chris how to motivate Guinness in walk to start with, by using the reins in a swinging fashion. “When your horse is moving the right-hand side of his body, lift the left rein up and over to the left, and vice versa. I’m hardly using any leg pressure at all, yet Guinness is keeping himself going.”
Bit of a nag?
We can probably all confess to nagging at our horses with our legs at some point – but when it becomes a habit, you need to break the cycle. Michael suggests taking your stirrups away: “This encourages the lower leg to hang down, rather than draw up into the nagging position. Try it, it really does work!”
In trot, the same applies. “I use hardly any leg,” says Michael. “But if he backs off and slows down, I tap him with the reins on each side of his neck to wake him up again. But here’s the key: as soon as he responds, you must leave him alone.”