Lets say you’re standing there having a good ‘ol time just standing still, talking to a friend. Out of nowhere your feet start to move. They just start walking around. Walking to no place in particular, at least none that was discussed and agreed upon. Would you be happy about this? What would you say to your friend standing there in mid conversation, “Sorry talk to you later, my feet do this all the time.”?
When talking about how to sit on a horse to beginner riders I often talk about being a centaur. “Your legs are now the horse’s legs and your brain is now controlling your new legs. You have to learn how to move those new legs by making your legs, weight, hands and voice part of your neural network.” Whatever, you get the point. The horse’s legs are yours now and if you legs made a habit of deciding to take a walk without you, you end up in a doctors office pretty quick.
So, what to do? Well, the best thing for a horse that wants to move for no reason is to give him reason. These horses are like kids, they naturally have a short attention span and if they forget to stand still and start wandering off, they’ve forgotten to listen to you. Don’t get angry, don’t beat ’em, just give them something to do, something with purpose.
Example: Horse starts to walk. I’ll decide that you (horse) want to walk so I’ll come up with something to do. First (since you’re walking) let’s walk in a strait line, then after a few steps stop, then pivot on the forehand 180°, start walking again, stop at the original location and pivot on the forehand back into the original position. Ok, it’s not a ground breaking pattern and the purpose isn’t life or death but it’s something, something to get the horse back on the task and waiting for your cue and listening when you give it. Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something. Anything you do, as long as you do it like you mean it will work. And work it does.
Some horse’s will need more attention than others. I’ve known horses that’ll take an hour before they move a muscle and still others that have years of training that just might need to move every other minute. Some of this is genetic and some is nerves and some is just cause.
The lowdown: Give your horse something to do if he tells you he’s forgotten to listen.