Hi Stacy, I have a 3 yr old mare – somewhat lazy. She will walk, jog, and trot cooperatively on a line or under saddle. When asked to canter she will canter but then she becomes aggravated and kicks out and swings her head. She is not doing it in a playfully. She pins her ears and is very indignant about cantering. I have checked the saddle, and pad for irritations, nothing there. I am getting to have the vet check her hocks for soreness. I work very hard to stay out of her mouth. Open to suggestions Thank you. Melanie H.

What you are describing is a frequent issue with lazy horses. You are doing the right thing by checking out any physical problems. After ruling out physical problems she may fall in the category of a lazy horse. Most horses, like people, are lazy to some extent (some more than others). These horses need more motivation to go to work than others. If the lazy horse was a person they would be the one that was a couch potato and a less than ideal worker. Think about the following scenario:
Employee #1 goes to work early everyday. After arriving early he/she waits in the car for the doors to be unlocked. If this employee is late people wonder if they have been in an accident.
Employee #2 goes to work everyday although they are generally the last one in the door. At least once a week they are late but they are good workers when they are there.
Employee #3 goes to work dragging his/her feet and complaining about the start time. This employee has been reprimanded multiple times about tardiness but it seems to have little or no effect. Actually he/she is getting there later each day and it is effecting the overall atmosphere at work.
Figure out what type of “employee” your horse is. I believe that there are employees out there that if they continued to receive a paycheck would gradually get to work later and later, eventually not showing up at all-as long as they continued to receive a pay check.
You can’t take away your horses food or water (a form of paycheck) that they receive but you can take steps that an employer might take in setting consequences for inaction.
One of the first things I do with a horse like this is canter work from the ground. With the horse in the round pen or on a lunge line I use a verbal cue-a kiss-to ask the horse to canter (or lope). If the horse responds from the verbal cue alone I stand and watch as they go around. If they do not respond I reach out with the end of my stick and string and whip them on the rear end very firm. I want them to connect that shortly after (within two to three seconds) of hearing me ‘kiss’ they are going to be swatted on the butt.
I will do what it takes to get them to move knowing that ALL horses can outrun me from the ground. Very resistant horses will tend to kick out so be sure you are at a safe distance. If they kick and don’t go forward-keep using the stick and string until they go (a lope or canter). All of my horses must lope immediately from a verbal ‘kiss’ only before I will mount up for even the first ride. The horse I used for the “Starting Young Horses” DVD was very tough to get to move and you can see how I worked through it. He chose to kick out instead of running away. Very tough to get to move. Let me know if you try it,