Hi I have a gelding called Victor who is an ex Hong Kong racehorse. He's very quiet and friendly and easy to handle. I'm told he's used to travelling on airplanes and living the racing life in Hong Kong. When he came into my care I was told he was a 'kick along' kind of horse. I've found even firm leg bumps don't bring consistent response. He's sound and will walk forward on the lead without protest. It's just when a rider is sitting on him he often won't budge from a standstill. We've tried the giddy up rope and he seemed to respond initially but he's so relaxed he's now desensitised to it and ignores it. It seems like a rider could stand up on his back and dance the hula and he wouldn't bat an eyelid. He's been a 'city boy' and it's taken him some adjustment to the more natural way of a horse's life. (For example the first time he walked under a tree branch in the paddock and it poked him he came rushing out - it's like he's previously been 'bubble-wrapped'.) Someone paid over $100,000 for him as a foal so I guess they took real extra care of him. Does anyone know much about life for race horses in Hong Kong and can tell me more which might shed some light on his too easy-goingness? Has anyone got some helpful advice - which doesn't involve pain or fear as a motivation to get him moving more enthusiastically and willingly?
My gelding is an 8 year old ex-trotting racehorse. He's friendly and calm but can be playful in the field with his buddy. The giddy rope didn't motivate him either. With ground work, he will walk across tarp on the first try and the plastic bags on a stick looked merely interesting to him. He'll follow along willingly enough when ridden but not when he's on his own or leading. So I am trying to get a person to walk in front to get him moving initially and then we overtake them and perhaps this will build up his confidence gradually. I am also having him follow my mare on a same loop with the hope that the route would be so familiar that he will be comfortable to be ridden there alone. He's a recent purchase so the area is still all new to him.
Longlining hasn't had much sucess either so really I am just writing to let you know that you aren't alone and if I do figure out what motivates him, I'll report back.
I've worked with trotters and pacers and driven them on the race track - the ones I drove were signalled to walk forward using the bit. We would give a gentle but quick tweak left and right on their mouth with the bit and click our tongue and they would understand they needed to walk forward.
When I've gotten a Standardbred used to being ridden I've combined the bit-tweak with the legs and they've gradually understood they both mean the same thing. I hope this might be some help to you. Understanding what previous trainers have done can help make a difference, which is why I was hoping there might be someone on here who can give me some more insight into the Hong Kong thoroughbred racing. I can only imagine the rider on Victor's back would have been probably very small and light with legs up high - so perhaps legs weren't used at all? It's possible the stick was used more to say go? I don't use sticks or whips but if that's what Victor is used to it's a bit of a challenge to change his signal to something else.
I've tried leading him with a rider on him from another horse and that got him moving, but not on his own. All I can think of is repetitive leading the rider and getting him to learn to associate the leg pressure with the signal to go, like a horse being started for the first time.
I also want to think of creative ways to make the ride fun so that he enjoys himself.
Great talking to you! :) :)