Horses aren’t intuitively lazy, a stubborn, stuck in the mud like character could have been produced by a number of reasons including: boredom with the same schooling over and over again, having a negative attitude to work, an unsuitable diet, poor health, or desensitization to the aids due to poor riding. To ride your horse successfully, you need him to move off your leg and have some ‘oomph’. Horses that are lazy or unresponsive make riding hard work for you and for them!
To give your horse a wake up call there are various methods which you can use in order to revitalise him back to the spritely character of his former self.
Firstly check for any physical problems by getting a health check. Ask your vet to make sure there are no underlying health issues and check his tack is not causing any pain. Get the back, teeth and nutrition experts all to give him a once over, too.
Secondly give a bit of variety to working your horse. Try more of an open space, or mix the training between hacking and school work, the key is to keep him guessing, like with any sport, it would be a little dull following the same routine every day and motivation would be lost. Schooling in a big field or out on a hack can help him start to enjoy his work.
Try not to keep asking for work on the bit as it’s better that he learns to go forward freely with a loose rein. If anything give him a little nudge with your legs rewarding any forward movement and then gently bring him back under control. Also try using exercises to get him listening to your leg. When riding keep your legs light and only use a gentle squeeze or a brief tap of the whip, any more than this and he will start resisting your efforts to get him to move. If you gradually take your legs off his side it will encourage him to extend his stride and to use his natural energy.
So try these tips of the trade for your lazy horse and see if he begins to reignite that energetic fire you know he has inside him. Horse riding should be fun for horse and rider so make sure you consider what he owuld enjoy too!