H&H question of the week: How do I teach my young horse to go forwards?

  • Q: “Giving a young horse ‘oomph’: I have a four year old Irish Sport Horse who has been broken for seven weeks. I can honestly say he is the safest youngster I have ever sat on and wonderful to deal with, but at the moment he is like a donkey to ride and hard to get going, which I don’t mind to a certain extent, but trying to get him to work in the school is hard as I am focusing on his flat work this year. Are there any schooling ideas I can use to get him more interested?”

    A: Many youngsters can be this way to start with and I tend to find it comes from a lack of strength.

    At the beginning of their education I really like to hack them out as much as I can which naturally gets them to think forwards, rather than going round and round in a school, which isn’t overly interesting for them.

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    It can also be quite hard work for them to balance in an arena and this can cause them to switch off.

    Hacking will help them to become stronger more naturally so that when you do get back in the school your horse will physically find it much easier.

    On the days you do go in the school, keep it very simple, working on the odd transition, and really praise him when he does go forward. Use your voice, making it fun and jolly.

    Avoid asking him to do anything too difficult at this stage as you want to keep his attitude positive so that he wants to please you and try. If you ask too many questions he may start to resent it. Lots of praise is essential too.

    Going over poles laid out around the arena at random will also help make it more interesting.

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    I quite like lungeing mine as well as it gives them a chance to work in a correct way and find their own balance without you on their back.

    Hopefully after a few weeks of doing this you will start to find some improvement as this is very much about time and strength.

    My youngsters do four days working and then have one day off as it gives their bodies and their brains the chance to absorb what you are asking them. They go in the school no more than twice a week.

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