rider would drum his heels on the side of his horse while frantically trying to
persuade him to move forward. This happens when your horse balks and refuses to
take more steps forward.
But how should you
handle the situation and get your riding buddy back on track? Check out these
tips from the experts.
Go Back to Groundwork Basics
A horse may balk for several reasons, so you should know how to deal with yours properly. One effective method for managing a balking horse is to teach him to respond to touch like you used to do. The basic groundwork exercises reinforce his forward cues while allowing you to observe his physical problems. Do this repeatedly until he can change directions immediately when instructed.
Give Clear Cues
Your horse should
have a clear grasp of your cues when you’re asking him to walk or move forward.
Use your legs and the reins to instruct him of what to do. Once you’re sure
that your cues are clear, push down your seat then squeeze his sides with your
legs. If he got your cues, he responds quickly by moving forward. But if he
doesn’t make any movements at all, kicking him will do.
Busy His Mind With Something Else
The idea here is not to
distract your horse, but to take his mind off in making frequent stops. You may
practice a few drills or exercises like a half or full pass that will make him
busy for other things than balking. Make sure to stay confident and relaxed doing
the drills. Always look where you’re going—not at the horse.
Mix Up the Riding Habits
Just like anyone else, your horse gets bored too! This is why you need to put variations in your riding habits. Take him around a few barrels or slightly-raised poles, race with another horse to the end of the arena, go on a trail ride, and more. Your horse will likely avoid balking if you add more variety to the rides.
Breaking this bad habit of your horse takes time and patience. You may need the help of a professional trainer or instructor for appropriate aids. If your horse balks every time you go for a walk or trail ride, you know it’s time to call us at Texas Made Cattle & Horse Co.
The primary source of strength and force of your horse
is his hind legs. With weak and stumbling legs, your horse won’t give you the
great ride that you want. Therefore, if you notice that your horse’s hind limbs
are not keeping up with his front legs, you need to do some exercises for
better control of his body movements.
Here are effective exercises to strengthen your horse’s legs and increase his carrying power:
The more flexible your horse is, the easier for him to build supple and stronger muscles. Stretching exercises allow your horse to cover larger ground because they alleviate the tension in the leg area. In this case, you do most of the work while your horse stands and does nothing. The goal is to open up his pelvic angles to access the gluteal muscles. Then, slowly rub your hand down the muscles repeatedly with increasing pressure. You know it worked once you see his pelvis tilt a little and his lower back lifted slightly. Do this exercise before and after a ride.
Walking is an essential part of conditioning his legs.
Let him walk freely while you’re on his back assisting. Feel the pressure and
the beat of his legs as he moves forward. Then, focus closely on his movement. Be
sure to control his speed while pacing forward and move with his motion.
Get him out of his comfort zone and let him do a workout uphill. Doing some hill work is a great exercise to build strength, especially on the hind legs. Introduce this program to him slowly—starting with some leg works then going upward. Remember, your safety should always come first.
Doing half halts helps your horse to understand your
cues better—teaching him to respond to them quickly. The main purpose of this
exercise is to reshape and rebalance your horse, so he doesn’t tumble on
consecutive steps or movements. When done correctly, he’ll be able to execute
your instructions properly.
By slowing, halting, and transitioning your riding
buddy between gaits, he’ll learn to engage his hind legs a lot better. Proper
transitions require him to do a combination of walking, trotting, and
cantering. Start with a few minutes of walk and trot, then canter. Every
successful transition helps strengthen his hind limbs.
Doing this program is safer and more effective with the help of a trainer with years of experience in the field. With this, we can help! Texas Made Cattle & Horse Company has combined expertise in horse training through our professional trainer—Zane Murphy. Feel free to call us for more information.