How to wake up a lazy horse.

Is your horse on the lazy side? This week I am giving you some tips and strategies to get your horse hotter and more reactive! 

It can be so frustrating, not to mention physically draining, to be repeatedly giving a forward aid to your horse and for them to just ignore it. Nothing is worse than you working harder than your horse!

Horses are not naturally lazy. We often train them to be lazy so that they don’t over react and leave us in the dirt! But with correct training, we can re-establish enough forwardness to stop them from being lazy and lethargic!

Once again, the rider position is crucial for waking up a lazy horse. You need to be in the optimum position to give effective aids with the minimum energy expenditure from you!! 

Kensington is a bit of a sleepyhead sometimes, so for this week’s video, he and I are going to outline some basic points and show some great exercises to wake up your lethargic pony! 

  1. The driving aids mean GO. Your legs are your primary driving aid and your whip is an auxiliary used to reinforce the legs.
  2. You need to keep your legs OFF a lazy horse! This may sound counterintuitive, but this is so that when you DO use your legs, you can get a reaction. If your leg is always on, it doesn’t have meaning for them. (The reverse is true for a hot horse, legs always a little but on so that they become less sensitive to them!)
  3. A GREAT exercise I like to use on lazy horses is Leg Resensitizing. Here’s how you execute it…
    • Walk on a loose rein. 
    • Then close the legs and ask for trot.
    • And then when they do trot, let them trot for a few strides, reward them and then come back to the walk.
    • When you are walking practice letting them walk with your heels away from their sides and not stopping!
    • Repeat this a few times
  4. The same pattern as the leg resensitization can be used for your whip. Remember horses can feel a fly, so they can feel the slightest tickle from your whip, and that’s all they should need to get a reaction. Here’s how…
    • Start with the tiniest flick of the whip on the horses’ hind end.
    • Keep going with the taps and increase the intensity until they react
    • Once they react and go into trot, reward them and slowly let them come back to walk. 
    • Repeat the cycle a few times
  5. Next up is Walk-trot-Walk in the same pattern as the resensitization exercise. Here are some key points.
    • We want the upward transition to be abrupt and explosive
    • We want the downward transition to be gradual. 
    • The second your horse starts trotting, remember to get your heels down and leg off, as this removes the pressure and acts as a reward. 
    • Bring your horse down to an ACTIVE walk, but without letting them stop
    • Repeat!

You’ll notice in a short space of repeating these, your horse’s sensitivity to the aids will improve!

Important! When working with lazy horses, remember to reward by release!!! As soon as he responds to the given aid, release it! This stops them from becoming so accustomed that they don’t listen.

VERY important! Do not worry about their head during these exercises, this is purely about the driving aids and asking for contact or roundness could just be misconstrued as an aid to slow down or stop! Let the energy flow forwards for the purpose of increasing their sensitivity to the aids. The contact can come once the forwardness has returned!

Watch the video where I go into more detail with Kensington, and let me know if you find it helpful in the comments!

Thanks for watching and happy riding!


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