Q: I have a 6 year old gelding pony. When I bought this horse he was fully trained and had no problems riding him until I brought him home. When I get on him he will not move but he will lay down and he doesn’t care if your on him. What should I do?
Your pony laying down is an evasive behavior. It’s his way of avoiding work. Some horses will kick out, hop, rear, buck, back-up, etc to avoid work, and yours has found that laying down is his way out. You have a few options but the bottom line and end result is that he needs to know that you can and will make him work. Once he realizes the jig is up, he won’t lie down anymore. It’s important to make sure your pony will lunge in a similar manner to that which he will ride. You should be able to make him walk, trot, canter and halt both ways lunging either on a line or in a round pen without him trying to lie down. Even if you’re in a round pen, I would suggest keeping the line on him and if he tries to lie down you can more easily get his attention and prevent him from doing so. If you are not comfortable or capable of lunging him, enlist the help of somebody knowledgeable to help you. When your ground work is solid and he never tries to lie down I would add a rider to the equation. One method would be to use the same routine as when you lunge him and if and when the pony ignores the rider, the ground person can intervene. Another option is to try spurs or a crop or a pair of split reins as an artificial aid. It is more humane to softly apply pressure with spurs or use a quick slap of a crop or rein than to consistently kick your pony and add to his confusion and aggravation. Imagine how frustrating it would be if somebody was yelling at you in a language you don’t understand. No matter how loud they get, that won’t help you understand what they want.When training horses it is extremely important to get your point across as quickly and clearly as possible. If you don’t get a response and you continue asking the same thing, you are effectively teaching your horse/pony to ignore you. They learn by repetition and every time we ride we train or “un-train” our horses by enforcing positive or negative behavior. You want your pony to know, without a shadow of a doubt that his only option is forward. You may have to enlist the help of a more experienced rider to get things started and then the important thing is to be swift and assertive in your cues. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile, so you have some ground you need to regain but it can be done. Best of luck with your gelding,
About the Author
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
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