Not walking out nicely

Lynda

New Member
Jun 7, 2021
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Hi. My search for solutions has bled to my discovery of this forum, so Ho everyone!

A year ago, 6 months after losing my beloved pb Arab aged 33 who I’d had since the day he was born and had also owned his mum, I got a Dartmoor Hill Pony. She’s a lot smaller than I imagined I’d get but the silly prices meant I wasn’t spoiled for choice.

I love this pony and she has a home for life with me.

My problem is getting her to walk out nicely. She can have the most amazing springy little walk on her, but most of the time she dawdles along like she’s just not interested and I feel like I’m riding every step and if I take my legs off we’ll grind to a halt. I know she’ll always be different to my very forward going Arab x!

I’ve tried riding with a schooling whip but doesn’t really have an impact. On the advice of my feed merchants I put her on oats, slight improvement but not massive.
She’s also like it when I lead her out with my young grandson on, so I know it’s not me!
I am waiting in my instructor to come out and hack her out, but I’m beginning to feel like I just can’t ride!

Any advice please? I just want to do this pony justice and hope one day to try dressage with her.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Nagging her each stride won't help as you run the risk of making her even more dead to the leg. I would make her halt or turn and ask again and if you don't get a response move her again till you do. Sharpening her up with ground work where you want and get an instant reaction. How old is she? If she is very young and just backed she may just be finding it quite hard to do.
 
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Lynda

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Jun 7, 2021
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Nagging her each stride won't help as you run the risk of making her even more dead to the leg. I would make her halt or turn and ask again and if you don't get a response move her again till you do. Sharpening her up with ground work where you want and get an instant reaction. How old is she? If she is very young and just backed she may just be finding it quite hard to do.
She’s 8 ( 9 this month) I got her from a charity and we don’t think she’s really done much other than been led with children on her. I’ve always had them that are really forward going so this is strange for me.
I will try this thank you.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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If she's been used to being led only with children, she has probably never been taught to go forward on her own and lacks confidence. Maybe go back to long reining her or shoulder reining her to get her marching on, as she may find that easier and get more confident. If she is quite newly backed they often can't manage to walk independently and need a touch each stride to keep going. I backed my mare last year but she seems to have got the hang of walking out freely quite fast, she sometimes gets confused and stops and then if you change direction it gets her unlocked and going again.
 
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Lynda

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Jun 7, 2021
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If she's been used to being led only with children, she has probably never been taught to go forward on her own and lacks confidence. Maybe go back to long reining her or shoulder reining her to get her marching on, as she may find that easier and get more confident. If she is quite newly backed they often can't manage to walk independently and need a touch each stride to keep going. I backed my mare last year but she seems to have got the hang of walking out freely quite fast, she sometimes gets confused and stops and then if you change direction it gets her unlocked and going again.
Thank you! We did long rein her for a few months when she first arrived. I realise it’ll take time, just having a panic because I so want to enjoy her but riding isn’t entirely enjoyable right now, which is hers because I love her.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Some RS horses are taught not to go forward unless there is a leg aid asking for each step. A safety precaution.
This is very different from the Mark Rashid approach where the horse goes on walking unless asked to stop.
Rashid's advice is that one should start the walk (from halt) at the speed and energy with which one would like to continue. The horse is geared to save energy so unless the slow walk is rejected, he will believe it is what you asked for.
Instead bring the horse back to halt and ask for walk repeatedly rejecting till you get the first walk step at a good speed and then take it from there.

On a horse dead to the leg, it does help too to ride repeated transitions walk to halt or even add a few paces trot.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Hello. Good for you for taking a little pony who needed a home and wanting to look after her.

If she's only ever been a lead rein pony she is probably not much used to thinking for herself, so it's not surprising that you have this issue.

It sounds to me as though you would be comfortable with faster paces, so you might want to add one technique to @Jessey 's methods in her thread (which I searched for using "slowest" as a search term BTW because the link didn't work). It's a wip wop. You make it with a lead rope or similar held double. Give your usual aid, and if the horse doesn't go at the speed you want, flip the rope on either side of the horse's wither as a cowboy would flip the ends of the reins.

The intention is to get a forward reaction, here's a quote from a thread on Horse&Hound forum: "I've got a wip wop. I got it from the Intelligentshorsmanship website.....they are sometimes called a giddy up rope too. Basically its a soft but thick wool type material with a hand loop to put on your wrist and a feathered end. Its used to encourage forward movement on the ground or in the saddle. Its a good visual aid and if you do need to up the pressure, its not severe like a whip. Richard Maxwell does one too but it seems much thinner."

I read about it in one of Kelly Marks's books, Perfect Partners I think. She recommends it for getting a horse to giddy up but says it's not for a novice because you can get a strong reaction, shooting forward. Having had a whizzy Arab I am sure you would be cool with this! I've not needed one myself but I had a friend who used one successfully on her ploddy Highland.
 
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carthorse

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Other suggestions I'd make is check that you're giving her plenty of rein to move forward into, if you can get her to stretch her neck forward then she'll be able to take a bigger more swinging stride which will cover the ground better. Make sure you don't block with your seat either and be aware that if you're a bit tall on her )I don't know if you are or not) then your balance needs to be good to not make life difficult for her. Try relaxing and you'll feel her belly swings against one leg then another - use this rhythm to apply alternating leg aids rather than both together. Also be very positive and upbeat when you ride her, make everything fun and exciting and praise her if she tries. I found hacking my Welsh in the rain improved his walk, he hated getting wet and so was determined to get the whole thing over and done with as fast as possible - I ended up with a power walking speed freak 🤣, but joking aside sometimes it's a case of finding the right motivation. Finally a DHP is never going to move like an Arab no matter how well schooled she is, the conformation is just too different.
 
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