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Franklin Levinson's

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Not moving forward

Hi Franklin,

I have been riding my horse Sonny for 4 months now. He has been a wonderful horse, very gentle and cooperative with no problems.

Just recently when I ask him to go down certain trails or roads he totally refuses. He will back up slightly, duck, turn to the left and run the other way. I stop him, and have to forcefully turn him in the right direction and try again and again until he completes his task. It can be quite an ordeal. I try not to get frustrated, but it's hard not to.

I have been thinking about any changes in his environment. The only things I can think of is, the ground froze for the first time with some snow and ice. He seems to dislike this and walks gingerly sometimes. He is not shod and I had his hooves trimmed two weeks ago.

I would like to know if there is a more gentle way to get him to move forward?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Charlene

Hi Charlene,

Something physical or environmental is the first thing to look for. With the frozen ground you have both. Perhaps he had a bad experience on hard, frozen ground that he is afraid will happen again. Also, his feet will be tender after a trimming, which is pain. You are correct that these are potential causes for this behavior. He does not need diciplin, rather he needs to trust he can go where you want and it will not hurt.

First I would make certain you are playing with him on the ground some to build some real trust in your relationship. If you are only riding you do not have the relationship you think you do or the relationship you want. Once he comes to trust you a bit more he will be inclined to even move through something where it is a bit scary or uncomfortable for him.

After some extended ground play, a thing to try would be to make it hard from him to duck out. As soon as you sense he is going to pull his move on you, put him to doing hind quarter yields, a little vigorously in both directiojns. This puts the horse to work when he acts out. It puts his attention on you as well.

Practice this when there is no pressure anywhere and you know your horse is feeling fine. Just get proficient at it so you can ask for it wheneveryou want and get it. After 3-4 rotations in each direction and perhaps even backing him a few steps, you ask him to move forward again. If he does not you repeat the process and its repeated as much as it takes for him to realize that moving forward is much easier than doing little circles around your inside leg. He does not want to work and those tight turns are definately work. It is non-abusive and works.

Let me know how it all goes.......

Blessings to you, Franklin

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