Dealing with a Nappy Horse or Pony - Stop Napping
A nappy horse is one that will not move freely
forwards in the direction that you require. Once he has stopped at
a given point he may run backwards, spin round or even
There may be a genuine reason for the problem of napping, or the horse
or pony may simply be disodedient and "trying it on".
Napping in horses and ponies can take many forms:
- Refusing to leave the stable yard without another horse for company
- A horse may go some distance then stop dead and refuse to go forward
- The horse or pony may stop then rear, buck or run backwards and turn
- When ridden in a field or manege the horse may persistently nap towards
the gate or stable.
- Often a nappy horse will go anywhere as long as another horse accompanies
him - but will refuse to go out alone or to leave his companion
Whatever variation of equine napping you have to cope with,
a nappy horse can be frustrating, dangerous and unpleasant to ride. But
with patience it is possible to cure this problem and stop your horse
REASONS FOR A HORSE TO NAP OR MISBEHAVE - WHY DOES A HORSE NAP?
- Ill fitting tack can cause discomfort or even pain
causing him to nap.
- Check that your horse is sound - imagine how you
would feel if you had to walk or run with a stone in your shoe or blister
on your heel.
- The horse or pony may be trying
to tell you something. Does he only nap when you try
to go into a field that you use for jumping or schooling? You may be
asking too much of your horse for his level of training.
- Lack of confidence. It is possible that a horse has
never been asked to go out on his own before and is genuinely scared.
- Confusion - you may be telling you horse one thing
with your hands and another with you legs - causing him to nap. Try
not to block forward movement with your hands.
- Danger - Your horse or pony may have scented real
danger ahead and stopping is his way of preserving his safety - and
If you can discount all the above reasons and your horse still won't
go where you want him to without arguments, then he is probably being
disobedient - but possibly as a result of bad
training or a rider previously ignoring the above conditions.
HOW TO CURE AND STOP NAPPING IN A HORSE OR PONY - THINGS TO TRY!
If you are a nervous or novice rider,
get a more experienced rider to ride your horse a few
times. If they do not have the same problems as you it would be worth
having regular lessons on your horse
to find out what you are doing wrong and put it right
- If your horse lacks the confidence to hack out alone,
ride out with a companion to help him to gain confidence
and get over this.
Ask your horse to stop while your friend rides
on ahead for 20 yards or so before stopping. Then ride up
to your friend and go past before stopping further along and allow your
companion to catch up.
Continue this leapfrogging - making the distances longer each time.
When you first try to turn your horse in a different direction from
his companions, turn him towards home while his friends continue. If
he will not leave them - make him stand still while they leave him.
- Ride more determinedly to get the message across that you will not
tolerate disobedience. Confident riding from you will
create confidence in the horse - don't flap and fuss! Horses hate this
and will take advantage of a weak ineffective rider.
- If there is a place where your horse naps regularly take a firm hold
of him before you get there and have him concerntrating on you. A light
slap down the shoulder can show him that you are ready for him - although
some horses will resent this and slam the brakes on immediately. You
must get to know your horse and treat him as an individual.
- Turn your horse's head away from the object it is
napping from and use your outside leg strongly behind the girth,
backed up with your stick if necessary.
- Sometimes if your horse or pony stops dead at an imaginary horror,
you can fool him into passing it by turning him around and backing him
past it. However this is not advisable if your horse has a tendency
- Another tactic to try if your horse refuses to go forward for no good
reason is to turn him quickly in very small circles. This will distract
him. After a few turns ride him on strongly - and remember to reward
him and make a lot of fuss if he does go forward.
- Some horses are better ridden quietly
and tactfully. If they stop, sometimes the only cure
is to sit and wait until they get bored and are ready to go forward.
This may take some time - even hours. But many horses once subjected
to this a couple of times will often never try napping again.
- If your horse naps and won't go forwards, asking for reinback
and then repeating the request to go on may inspire obedience.
ACTION POINTS - HANDLE EQUINE NAPPING BY FORWARD PLANNING
When riding a nappy horse tip the odds in your favour
as much as possible:
- Pick your route to avoid heavy traffic, slippery roads, deep ditches
and barbed wire.
- Don't ride your horse at the time it is usually fed.
- Spurs may help. But only use them if you can control your legs - and
- Don't start a battle with your horse unless you are confident of seeing
Advice about managing a nappy horse that will not move freely
Actions to take to prevent napping in a horse or pony