On the road to nowhere? Napping, why it happens and what to do about it

So let's start with frustration!!! A napping horse can be the most frustrating thing in the world, no matter how much you sweat, kick and finally plead with your horse they still seem to be going backward - aaahhhh!!!

If there's one tip I can give it's don't get frustrated (oh thanks, I hear you say!!) and if you do let your emotions get the better of you, stop, breathe and start again once you're feeling better. Frustration only adds to the emotions of the situation and makes everything a lot worse, it usually means it all takes longer as well.

The first step is to identify why your horse is napping, there are basically three reasons...

  1. He's in pain

  2. He's scared

  3. He just doesn't think going forwards is in his/her interests

With any behaviour changes in a horse, in particular if it comes 'out of the blue' the possibility of pain should be thoroughly investigated before treating it as a training issue.

We don't often associate nappiness with a horse being scared simply because the behaviour usually appears to us to be so stubborn. So how do you know? If the nappiness appears for example by the gate when you're leaving the yard for a hack and when you do finally get your horse out of the gate he tends to be on his toes and spooky, this is likely to be a fear issue. Your horse is saying 'I don't want to go out there because it's scarey don't you know there's monsters out there?!' I'm putting human words into it but you get the idea. Nappiness due to fear is usually associated with going somewhere new or at least relatively unknown.

Solution...Get your horse to be confident just going out of the gate or even better on a very short loop and come back again. In some cases it can be better to do this on the ground, if your horse long reins well then this is an ideal way to sta