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  • Writer's pictureSaskia Gerritsen

Getting a "lazy" horse motivated

For another edition of "Ask Saskia" on my YouTube channel, I got the following question:

How can I keep my mare interested and lively? She just seems lazy when I get to ride her. - Tina

First of all, I am really happy to receive questions from you. Because I love creating educational content about horse training. Even more if it's exactly what you need right now.

For this particular question, I have a 3 part-answer about how to solve this:

  1. Build participation through understanding

  2. Build anticipation through repetition

  3. More praise by being precise


Build participation through understanding

Think about what you want to do from your horse's point of view. It's easy for us to know what we're doing or why we're doing it. But for our horses it's sometimes difficult to understand.

If you're on a trail it's clear that the path straight ahead is the way to go. If you're jumping obstacles it's clear that over the jumps is the task at hand. But especially when we are just riding around in a flat arena, a less energetic horse will come over as lazy pretty soon...

The key to building more participation is making your training, your riding patterns, understandable for your horse. Visual aids in the form of cones and poles are the best way to do this. Mark out special spots and shapes in the arena that you are going to use today, so that your horse can start understanding what you want.

Build anticipation through repetition

After making the tasks understandable, you want to build in some amount of repetition. Not to make thing even more boring! But to build up anticipation.

For example: if it's very clear between point A and point B there will be a transition every time, your horse will start anticipating.

You will notice after a few times, that your horse will start offering more energy. To make that worth his while and keep him this motivated, the last part is very important:

More praise by being precise

If you're riding around and around without a precise plan, how will you know when to praise your horse? And when will you praise your horse if all the time you experience it being lazy?

So, once you have a plan that is understandable for your horse and you feel it's anticipation after a few repetitions of the same exercise: praise it often for even small efforts!

You see, now that you have a precise plan you will know exactly:

- when things are improving

- when your horse is offering more than you asked

- if you where successful together

And you will be training your horse into a participating partner by letting him know too!

So, make sure your horse can understand the task and repeat it precisely so that you can praise often!

Watch the video on my YouTube channel:

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