Any inexperienced 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.