Getting pony forward correctly

Hey everyone, looking for some advice.

I have a 4 year old German Riding pony. He is LAZY.
I work with a trainer regularly, and I ve had him since he was 3, barely started under saddle. He has always been incredibly lazy. No lameness issues, no saddle fit issues, teeth are done, etc.

So now he’s got the idea of forward, and that forward is non-negotiable. But it’s time for him to learn the difference between being forward in front of the leg, and just running forward. He’s very accepting of contact, it’s a little heavy right now but he’s learning.

What are some exercises or techniques that you all would recommend for helping him make this distinction?

My trainer is moving and I’m trying to find a new one where I can address this. She was mostly focused on making him go forward and now I think he’s just going too fast and needs to, really slow down and learn to push from behind from the forward instead of run into it.

I appreciate any and all feedback :slight_smile:

If the pony feels too fast you can add a circle… this should add balance which might also help the heaviness. Also correct transitions, using seat and weight not just hands. Might even start a bit of moving away from the leg at the walk to introduce lateral work, turn of the forehand and a few steps of leg yield. Make the pony think, not just go forward. Good luck with a new trainer, eyes on the ground really make a difference.

A 10 metre circle from a 20 metre.

Transitions within the trot.

Trot halt and halt trot transitions.

Lateral work.


I do uphill walking and will over-exagerate my seat in different patterns, slow or fast and shorter stride or longer, mostly pelvis, but with encouraging leg, I work towards getting the to match for 3-5 strides then 10 stride break and repeat the same pattern for 1-2 minutes changing directions randomly during the breaks to keep them engaged.

Trot poles. I found walking up to trot poles and trotting a stride or two before the first one helped my horse learn to push. Make sure he’s confident trotting over them first.

Two step leg yields - leg yield two steps and close the outside leg to go forward (don’t stop the LY and then go forward, just ride forward). This gets the inside hind coming under the horse and sets up the push. At walk this exercise can transform a lazy walk (love it!). Make the forward a transition to trot, or do it in trot as well.

I really like forward and back within the trot helps the horse find his balance and power. Start with little bits for 3-6 steps (but you must get some change even if it’s tiny) - ask for a little shorter step each step for 3-6 steps. The idea being that each step is a little bit shorter than the previous one. Then go a little bit longer each step for 3-6 steps. Often the horse finds one easier than the other and will blow you off in the harder steps if you get stuck on the count. I have ridden this as 6 back, 3 forward because my horse took longer to shorten. This exercise can be done in canter as well.

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Thanks everyone all the ideas so far! They are all great!

@RedHorses I especially like the idea of walking to the trot poles and then trotting them within a stride or 2, I think that’s something that would really make sense to him

This might be the time to teach half-halts? Forward isn’t running, the front end should start coming up and he at least has to be in horizontal balance within his 4 year old self. Keep your leg and seat on, lift the front end.

To preserve/reinforce the forward in your lazy guy, maybe try trot and canter poles in a forward gait. They are things he can easily focus on and can learn to shift weight into at least a horizontal balance in order to navigate. You can eventually, later set them to teach more collection.

Don’t lose the forward, you can start a few steps of shoulder-in, shoulder-fore, and then straighten, plus other things that he has be be forward in but improve the balance.

Responsiveness is also key. Teach him that walk transitions into trot happen basically now, rather than tomorrow. Same with downward transitions and turns.

Good luck!

In hand work. Whenever I’m having trouble explaining what I want I get off and explain it on the ground first. The advantage, for my horse anyway, is that he has a “visual”,(me/my feet/the way I move), and that makes it easier for him to figure out what I want.

I like to get off multiple times during a training session anyway, to give his back a break, so do in-hand work during the breaks.

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I found adding lots of small circles very helpful with my guy who went through a very similar stage. Basically keep him forward and when he starts to feeling racy/unbalanced add a 10 meter circle. At pony size that shouldn’t be to hard with him and the geometry forces them to take more weight back and rebalance without having to use a lot of hand and is helpful for a young horse who doesn’t have established lateral work in their toolbox. My trainer also suggested using the wall of the arena to help a horse sit and rebalance more. Basically break up the long side and cut across the area so the horse has the visual aid of approaching a wall to back up your half halts and other aids if they start blowing through them.

Riding squares can also be a helpful way to introduce some lateral movement and collection. Try to collect a bit before the corner and then either think turn on the forehand or turn on the haunches in each corner. If this concept blows your horse’s mind as it did for mine at first (the back and the front can move separately?! :eek:) it can be helpful to work on TOF, TOH and leg yields in hand so they can figure out how to move laterally without getting tangled up or feeling rushed.