The key to understanding how to fix a horse that is lazy and rears on the trail is to first understand that the problem is just a symptom of a cause. The horse is rearing (or threatening to) because he has sticky feet. When he doesn’t want to do something, his way of getting out of it is to rear up. Often times, these horses figured out that if they can scare their riders, they get out of work.
When a horse rears because he has sticky feet and doesn’t want to go forward, it’s a lack of control on the rider’s part. You first need to get control of the horse on the ground and then practice basic impulsion exercises like the Cruising Lesson to teach the horse to respond to your cues and to be responsible for maintaining the gait you set him in. When you gently squeeze his sides with the calves of your legs, he should immediately move forward. All of the exercises in the Fundamentals Series will help you with this. Rather than trying to fix his sticky feet out on the trail in an uncontrolled environment where your safety is in jeopardy, first get control of the horse at home in a safe environment, where if you need to spank him with the end of your mecate to get forward movement, you can. Keep something in mind, any holes you have in your training at home only get worse when you take your horse out on the trail.
After working with hundreds of horses over the years, I’ve found that a week or two of consistent groundwork usually cures rearing before you get back in the saddle. Why? Because the horse’s respect is earned on the ground by moving his feet, he’s using the thinking side of his brain and he is no longer fearful.
Courtesy of Downunder Horsemanship