How Do I Get My Horse To “Go”?

may2016

When teaching your horse to “go”, focus on two aspects of “thinking forward.”

1. Taking responsibility for his own energy
2. Reacting to light aids

Responsibility

The first thing you need to do is teach your horse to take responsibility for his energy. It’s not your job to keep him going by “legging him”, spurring him, clucking constantly, or pushing with your seat.

To begin to teach your horse to take responsibility for his own energy, walk very actively. (Get the walk active any way you can at this point.) As soon as he slows down even SLIGHTLY, correct him by tapping with the whip or giving several sharp kicks until he trots.

Then go back to the walk. If he keeps walking actively on his own, praise him with your voice.

The moment he even thinks about slowing down, correct him again.

Praise him with your voice for as many strides as he takes without any help from you.

Reacting To Light Aids

Once your horse takes responsibility for his energy and goes on his own, the second part, of teaching him to “Go” is to educate him to the driving aids.

The “go” aids include your seat, legs and, voice. Your horse wasn’t born knowing how to respond to these driving aids. You need to teach him to react to each aid individually. Your goal is to WHISPER with your aids, and have your horse SHOUT his answer. (Not the other way around!)

Teach your horse to react to light driving aids, by doing the following:

1. Give a very light aid. Remember that your horse can feel a fly on his side.

2. If your horse doesn’t respond to a feather-light aid, don’t adjust your aid by repeating it or making it stronger. (If you do, you’re letting him train you!)

3. Instead, correct him by tapping with the whip or giving several sharp kicks.

4. After the correction, go back to what you were doing originally (like a walk to trot transition) and RETEST with the original light aid. (Important: Never leave a question about reacting to your aids with the correction. If you do, you’ll only teach your horse to ignore you until you give a stronger aid.)

5. If you find yourself saying, “That was better”, or “pretty good”, or “good for him”, correct him again. If you don’t, he’ll just get progressively lazier.

6. Then go back to what you were doing, and RETEST right away. (You need to RETEST right away because horses learn by association. If you wait too long to RETEST, your horse will forget why he was corrected in the first place.)

7. When you get a 100% whole-heartedly forward reaction, praise your horse. (If you don’t praise your horse, it’s the same as punishing him.)

Some people think it’s harsh to “correct” a horse by kicking or tapping with the whip. But at the end of the day, it’s a lot kinder and more pleasant to train your horse to take responsibility for his own energy and to react to light driving aids than to nag, squeeze, and spur him every stride.

Comments

  1. Mary Ann Lambert says

    Jane, I,, too was stunned by your mention of cancer. Please know that you, Moshe, Indy and Rhett have given me and my horses endless hours of help and fun. I have your books and DVD’s for which I am most grateful.
    I will be sending you all the energy of peace and healing.

  2. Sue O'Donoghue says

    I, too, Jane did not know about your cancer. Be sure to use your strong, nagging aides while fighting this dreadful disease — I know you will win!!! You are in my prayers, and you know Jan is up in heaven routing you on!

    Sue O’Donoghue

  3. Ed Rowan says

    Hi Jane,
    I am a middle age guy who took up horseback riding relatively late in life. Although I have more of a passion for jumping, dressage is the base where all horsemanship begins, so I am a sponge for what you have to teach us about riding. Your inspiration supersedes riding as it is a roadmap for how to live life.
    You press on and know that people you have never met are thinking about you.

    Ed Rowan

  4. Lisa Holtz says

    Congratulations to you Jane for all your success in everything you touch and do. You are a wonderful, helpful, supportive person. You have such a beautiful spirit and are so generous with your knowledge. Thank you for sharing with us all the good and all the challenges. I will pray for you as I know the power of prayer can bless and heal. I pray for a full recovery, renewed health and the strength to carry on as you start each new day.

    Love and Prayers,
    Lisa

  5. Diane Soper says

    Thank you for this article! My beloved Friesian gelding is quite a lazy boy, and I am struggling with this issue! Will be changing a few things now! Also wanted to send you encouragement as you go through your cancer treatments – as a fellow survivor I can tell you’ll do well – you have a positive attitude, and the best place to visit when you’re tired – the barn!

  6. Karin Schackne says

    Prayers going out to you as you go through this challenge. Keep your positive out look even in the darkest of times and you’ll get through this. If you can memorize a Grand Prix test . . . this is a piece of cake in comparision! Stay strong and let the horses carry you away from it for awhile each day:)

  7. Marlene Doughman says

    Jane, So sorry to hear about your cancer battle. You have inspired me through your emails, videos, and books. My current horse is my ‘therapy horse’. Got him 1 month after my final surgery. It’s a long road to healing but I’m living it while continuing treatment. Prayers for strength and healing!

  8. Delores Wood says

    Thank you for your training and your positive attitude. You are an inspiration to riders all over the world. Prayers for your healing and happiness.

  9. Dear Jane, yet another follower of your wise words and ways wishing you all the best and a quick road to recovery, in love and light, sherree xxx

  10. Dominique cortese says

    Thank you for all the help you have given me with my problems with my kwpn.I am so sorry to hear about your awful struggle but you are a great woman and you will ein this battle we are all praying for you dont worry soon you will be fine.
    Best wishes
    Dominique Cortese Rome Otaly

  11. Laura Sadler says

    A friend of mine recently shared this with me. I thought there was a lot of good information in regards to cancer treatment and I’m sure it inspires hope for those fighting cancer. I wish you the best and that you have a full recovery. Thanks for sharing your horsey knowledge, I’ve definitely benefited greatly from your videos, etc.

    https://go.thetruthaboutcancer.com/?ref=1f72b82c-bb9b-4281-8789-9da0ff955505

  12. So sorry to hear about your cancer. I went through breast cancer and if it wasn’t for my horses and animals.I don’t know how things would have turned out. Sending many positive thought for your full recovery. Hug a horse it helps. I do love all you have put up about horses.

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