Last Updated on March 8, 2022 by Allison Price
TEACH YOUR HORSE HOW TO MOVE FORWARD
Without forward movement, it’s impossible for a horse to be trained. A horse that isn’t moving forward would be similar to me giving you keys to a new BMW without a gas pedal. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would be useful to you. The basics of training horses is similar to building a car. You must first establish a gas pedal. This allows the horse to move forward at whatever speed and gait it desires. The brake is when the horse can be moved forward in all three gaits, walk, trot and canter. You start with One rein stop, then you can teach the horse how to stop pressure from both reins and finally your voice. After you have the brake and gas pedal in place, you can then work on the cruise control button. This allows you to get the horse to follow the pace and gait you set until you tell him otherwise. Finally, you create a steering wheel.
A good gas pedal is essential for success in competitions like Road to the Horse. While your horse may be seated with his hind foot cocked, while you desensitize, he will not move forward when you ask him to.
Horses that are unable to move forward can be frustrating and dangerous. They may become resentful of being asked to move their feet. They will kick out and run backwards to avoid being asked to move their feet.
The worst part is that they are often rewarded for their disobedient behavior. Instead of pressing the issue and getting the horse to move forward, the rider gets intimidated and will either allow the horse to go at his speed or take him out and give him away.
A well-trained horse will move forward from the lightest suggestion, and keep that speed and gait up until you tell him otherwise. To get a horse to pedal well, it’s important to keep things simple. This means that your horse should learn to move off of your leg cue. We use the Method to teach horses how to move forward from their leg cue using the Fundamentals exercises one rein stops and the Cruising Lesson.
Here are some tips to help your horse fix the problem with his gas pedal. If your horse is having difficulty, this could be a sign that something is wrong with their foundation. You should return to Fundamentals groundwork and do riding exercises to correct it.
TIP #1: USE CLUCK, SQUEEZE, AND SPANK CORRECTLY
Three separate cues are used to teach horses how to move forward at the speed and gait you desire: Cluck, Spank, Squeeze.
Rub your hands together To cue the horse to move forward, gently squeeze his ribcage using the calves of both of your legs. You can politely ask the horse to move forward by squeezing.
Cluck Continue to squeeze your legs, and then cluck with your tongue two more times, “Cluck, Cluck,” to signal that he is about to feel uncomfortable.
Slap If your horse doesn’t respond to your cues, squeeze your legs together and spank him. You can also use your dressage whip to tap his leg behind your knee until he moves forward. If the horse ignores your cues, spanking can make him feel uncomfortable.
Instantly let go of all pressure as soon as the horse starts to walk forward. Stop squeezing his sides and stop clucking. Your legs should be free to move forward at the speed that you desire.
Clinicians will continue to squeeze their horses’ sides and cluck to them even after they have made progress. This causes horses to become dull and to not pay attention to the cues. They are doing the right thing, but they don’t get any pressure release. Instead of increasing pressure slowly and using Squeeze Cluck Spank correctly to give the horse an opportunity to respond, riders will immediately spank their horses and cue them to move forward. The horses will learn to move forward by being spanked. Horses only respond to the pressure they are given. Gentle pressure from your legs’ calves will cause your horse to move forward. If your horse doesn’t respond to, you can increase the pressure by clucking and spanking until he starts moving forward.
Teaching your horse how to use the gas pedal by getting him to follow your cues and move his feet.
TIP #2: DO NOT BE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY.
To teach your horse to walk forward with a light leg cue, and to maintain the gait you have set for him, it is important not to babysit him. He should be responsible for his own feet. He should continue to trot if you tell him. He won’t learn how to ride if you don’t take responsibility for him. If the horse is trotting and breaks his gait, without you asking, and falls to a walk, then let him walk one step, and then Squeeze, Cluck and Spank until he starts trotting again. If he is able to break into a trot and you have only asked him to, stop him immediately with one rein. Both of these examples show that you are letting your horse make the error and then correcting it. You are basically asking him to do the wrong thing. As he takes responsibility for his actions, you’ll see a decrease in the number of mistakes he makes.
I checked that the colt could move at all three gaits while I was outside the roundpen.
TIP #3: KICKING IS NOT THE WAY TO GET FORWARD MOVEMENT.
Even if your horse is lazy and you are sure he will ignore you if you gently squeeze his sides using your legs, you should always use the Squeeze Cluck Spank order. You should not kick horses to encourage them to move forward. If he does not respond to your squeeze within a few seconds, you can cluck. If he doesn’t respond within a few seconds, spank. If he doesn’t respond, spank harder until he moves at the right speed. The horse will eventually learn that it is easier to push the horse forward when you squeeze than if he has to go through the cluck or the spank, making him feel uncomfortable.
Do you think that means that your horse will have to endure some unpleasant situations? Yes! Yes! You don’t have the confidence to ride him that far. You don’t want the horse to start cantering, so give him a fairy slap on the reins. He kicks out and you then have to get off him. He will learn that kicking out helps him get out of work. This is a valuable lesson that he will quickly pick up.
Kicking doesn’t work because it reduces horses’ stride length and makes them tighten up. Spanking, on the other hand, increases his stride. Imagine kicking horses to make them run faster. Instead of using a whip, jockeys would be kicking them. You’ll have to keep kicking your horse to get him to run faster. He’ll become duller and less able to handle a gentle squeeze.
He was very happy to be taken out into the arena.
TIP #4: DO NOT GIVE MIXED SIGNALS.
Horses with sticky gas pedals are most often caused by their riders giving mixed signals. Their riders give mixed signals to their horses. They tell them to move forward but then they hold the reins tightly, pulling the horse’s lips back and pulling his lips to the chest. The horse doesn’t know what they are doing. He’s being told one side to move forward and the other to stop or go back. When teaching horses or humans how to set up a gas pedal, I have everyone ride with a loose rein. To keep horses from micromanaging and grabbing at the reins, I make riders place one hand on the reins and the other on the horse’s mane. Although it sounds simple, you’d be amazed at how difficult it is for people to let go of their reins after so many years of riding this way.
FORWARD MOTION IS ESTABLISHED ON CENTRAL
It may seem strange, but your horse’s gas pedal should be on the ground. This is done by starting with the roundpen exercises. Fundamentals Clinics are taught at the ranch by me. We start with each participant and their horse in a roundpen. The horses’ reactions in the roundpen can show me which horses have a functioning gas pedal under their saddles. Horses that are quick to move away from their owners by pointing in the air and pointing at them, move well under saddle. Horses that flick a cigarette at their owners are the same when it comes down to riding. We get this behavior fixed on the ground so that we don’t have to get in the saddle.
You should always test your horse every now and again to make sure there are no stickies in his feet. If you are working on Lunging For Respect, for example, ask your horse to slow down if he is cantering around the circle. Horses with good gas pedals pick up their pace, while horses with sticky gas pedals will kick out and flatten their ears. Horses are skilled at fooling us. They will put in as much effort to keep us happy as possible. But, you might be surprised at what you discover when you begin testing your horse.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!