Quite often I hear horses who are not freely forward described as “lazy.” There are a few problems with this :
1- lazy is an anthropomorphic description. Horses don’t care about our ideas of work ethic, or even know what those are. Their priorities are eat, be secure in a herd, look out for danger, and eat. Their priorities are not inside leg to outside rein, they don’t care about doing straight flying changes, and they certainly don’t care that you have a show coming up. The only way they can become invested in your work is if it makes them feel good, as in brings them mental and physical well-being. Otherwise, you can threaten with your leg all you want and inspire fear response, but they aren’t lazy – they just don’t share your priorities.
2- most sluggish horses are extremely tight. Moving forward with a rider on their back is actually double or triple the amount of work that it should or could be. They are moving with a tight back, tight shoulders and weak abs and haunches. Likely the rider is tight as well, and quite likely the rider is not balanced as well as they could be and using reprimanding or nagging aids. This horse is working FAR harder then they need to be.
If a horse’s shoulders are supple, back is free to lift, core is engaged and working without interference, hind legs swinging at optimum range of motion, movement is easy and enjoyable. So your “lazy” horse is far out working a horse with looseness and alignment, because they have to work much harder just to go forward.
Something to think about next time you whip out the “L” word; which in my barn is a very very dirty word, along with stubborn 😉
PS if they hate work so much, why don’t you make work more enjoyable?