I have been in the process of re-training my mare Chocolate for close to two years now. It has been a long road, waning in and out of consistency. BUT, one of the largest challenges I have had to deal with is Chocolate’s laziness.

There are two different kinds of laziness: the “Whatever, I’d rather sleep” laziness, and the “You can’t make me! Move? No can do!” Guess which one is my horse? Laziness, in any situation during the training process, can usually be read into as disrespect. You tell the horse to move, and they don’t. Ever seen a lesson with a horse in the process of tuning out the rider when asked to move faster? Sure you have. It’s like a grand mastermind plan that has taken them 10-plus years to develop as a habit. “If I can just wait long enough, eventually they will give up and stop kicking me.” Chocolate does not have enough experience to have figured this out over time, but she hasn’t gotten really smart about how to get out of work on the ground (on the ground meaning training while not being ridden).

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The usual training session/conversation/argument probably would sound something like this:

Me: “Alright Chocolate, time to get moving. Trot!”
Chocolate: *whiny voice* “But I’m cranky and I’m stiff and the wind is blowing, and….”
Me: “Quit cramping my space! Ouch, you almost stepped on my toe!”
Chocolate: “Who, me? Can we be done now?”

After five minutes of trotting around lazily, not exactly well but still moving, she decides to give me a nasty look and tosses her head defiantly.

Me: “Chocolate, get moving! I’m tired of your bad attitude!” *Whip smack*
Chocolate: “A WHIP!!!! I AM SO OUT OF HERE!” *Flies backwards dragging me off my feet and sometimes yanking the rope out of my hands and bolting back to the barn.*

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Yeah, so that is what I’ve been working with. Cooperative to a point but respect and commitment are a hit and miss. Unsure of how to move forward, I call a local trainer and ask her to come out and work with me.

Cara Cagno, of CC Horse Training in Eagle, was pretty surprised by Chocolate’s reaction as well. How does she manage to go from doing well to disrespectful in .001 seconds? Because Chocolate weighs ten times what I do, there is no way I can muscle her into doing what I want; my only option is to outsmart her.