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hot horse behavior

This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  jessica_monks 2 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
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  • jess_n_jazz Original Poster
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 15

    My appendix gelding is 18 years old and gets EXTREMELY worked up and hot when we prepare to do our gymkhana events and shows. He has been this way since day 1 and I am running out of ideas on how to manage these behavior issues. Don’t get me wrong, he has impeccable ground manners and is normally a very sweet, friendly boy, he only gets hot when we go to run barrels which I know is normal but sometimes I just cant control him. He is also a NIGHTMARE on trails :( I ride him as OFTEN as possible, and when we work on patterns I keep him collected at a trot or lope to teach him that every time we run a pattern, he does not have to run like a bat out of hell. I had some friends suggest ulcer guards and probiotics? I don’t believe he has ulcers 24/7 but maybe working ulcers only when I ride him? I just need some advice and suggestions on where to go from here. I have switched his grain over to SafeChoice Special Care and have started him on a calming supplement a few times a week as well to see what works and what doesn’t. I am also going to try a stomach soother if none of my other ideas work, HELP PLEASE!

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  jess_n_jazz.
    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Walk him. Do all your things at a walk, until he is totally relaxed, and then get off. It sounds as if he is expecting always to have to race around, and surprising him may be your only option. You can use Mare Magic for geldings as well as mares, but must use it consistently for best results. I don’t think stomach things will help. If it is any consolation, my boy is 23 (or 24, I forget), and still thinks that horse shows are the senior equivalent of racing. He is also so evil on trails that I bought another horse for trail riding. It was easier than trying to deal with his demons. Try leading your boy around the ring, without asking him to do anything other than just amble aimlessly around, or even turn him out there with a snack of some sort. Get him to regard the ring as just another place. Perhaps it will help? Good luck.

    It is never the horse's fault

    elle01
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Much of this sounds like your gelding has learned this behavior: the fact that he’s specifically this hot when you go to run barrels (and trail riding) seems like it’s more of a training issue and less of a physical (dis)comfort. Some horses just learn to run on 100mph, which is an unfortunate habit. If you’re able, break it down to a walk. Not even “collected at a trot or a lope” – take it down to the most basic components and walk. Walk everywhere. Like Joe-Joe said, embrace the idea that there may be days (should be days, probably) that you don’t ever leave the walk. Work through something in a calm, relaxed fashion and then get off. Break up the association that barrels = run!!!

    Another element to look at is tension. Where do you carry tension when you’re riding patterns or trail riding? Some horses run through that tension. My horse can be perfect on a trail (loose rein, no contact) but the instant I get tighter in my thigh or seat he’s up and jigging and wanting to run through that tension. You can take the opportunity to work through any possible tension (or contact issues – some horses might run through a tense rein connection as well) at the walk, and then after a few days, introduce small bits of trot and work on that softness, and then again at the lope. Work in small increments and always keep the walk as a central focus, again, to break the idea that “THIS MEANS WE RUN!!”

    jess_n_jazz Original Poster
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 15

    thank you for the advice Elle & Joe-Joe :) for the next week or so I will def be walking the pattern only and see if that’s helps.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Don’t just walk the that pattern – incorporate it into other walking things, such as serpentines, figure 8s, etc. Once he has calmly walked through, get off even if you only ride for five minutes, as getting off is a reward. You will be able to extend the time spent gradually, but most importantly, do NOT get off if he gets agitated (because you would then be rewarding the bad behavior). “Stop after a good fence” is an old saying, and can be applied to any situation. Horses remember, so you want him to learn that quiet is what you are asking him to be. If he is a good barrel horse, he will still remember to run them when asked to do so, even if you never rehearse that at home. At least, that works for my horse with regard to jumping. We never do it except at shows, where he would jump the moon if I asked him.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    First of all – all the energy coming from an 18y.o is a great sign that he’s healthy and putting all his passion into his work. Fine things to have in a horse.

    I have ‘hot’ horses, and if I want to run everywhere all day, all I have to do is start out by lunging, and then let them go fast right after warm up. After that it’ll be a ‘race’ everywhere because ‘the blood is up’ and their energy has moved into high gear. As a result, I don’t lunge before I ride – and in the beginning I don’t allow any gait beyond the corto, the slower single-foot gait, which is still faster than a walk. This allows them to burn off some steam in a controlled and useful way. I’d try a walk-trot combination on a regular gaited horse, as if you are working on transitions. If you try to keep a hot horse completely to a walk, you might get a lot of frustration for both of you. Mine will not put up with that, and the energy comes off in other ways less directed. It’s a great thing to have a forward horse, but they have lots of energy, think five year old eating candy bars, and try to make ‘that’ sit still. ;-/

    The upside is that trotting you’ve been doing builds stamina. Just don’t advance beyond that speed, and frequently transition so he has to pay attention to you, this was good instinct on your part and is a good way to address his energy, mixing it up with transitions to a walk, over and over again will fine tune his listening to you re speed.

    Having a forward horse like this tends to put the rider into a forward seat. Watch your shoulders, set your back straight and sit in a near stopping posture and use your feet and seat rather than reins to control speed, as much as possible don’t work his face which will inure him to you. Don’t sit forward or you shouldn’t get upset at your horse for doing what you are telling him to do if he speeds off. I have to watch this myself after decades of riding – I’ve had many forward horses and tend to have a forward seat myself. Sitting back automatically lowers energy.

    Also it’s difficult for me sometimes to manage my frustration and energy when they are especially spirited – windy days – a bit of a chill in the air – a new horse in the group – etc. I have to force myself to calm to zero energy, low low. Low voice commands. Slower movement, quiet hands. Keep the sum of the energy you+horse=10. If your horse is an 8, you have to be a 2. Be very circumspective and controlled with regard to your own breathing and movements. It’s surprising how much difference this makes as it seems some days that my horses are dedicated to getting a rise out of me and calm right down if they can’t.

    Spirited horses are wonderful to ride and will give you everything they’ve got and then some. They move out of pure joy – funneling that energy takes patience and skill and patience and patience.

    And still more patience. But it is the gift that keeps on giving. Good luck and give him a carrot from me.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    jess_n_jazz Original Poster
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 15

    Mapale- that’s a great way to put it in perspective, thank you! and yes, I’ve been very fortunate over the last 16 years to have a very healthy and happy boy. he is a wonderful horse but there are times when the two of us clash. we both have very similar personalities so when he starts acting up, sometimes I lose my temper as well and it only makes things worse. I know that I have to work on keeping calm and being more patient with him especially when he’s acting up. he is a challenge but that’s something I look forward to, that way I can continue growing and learning more from him. I’d much rather have a horse who poses more of a challenge than say a lesson horse who has “been there and done that” with everything thus far. I need a challenge and welcome it.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Jess,
    I think you have come upon one of the main reasons horses are good for us as people. They make us overcome our own emotions that stand in the way of progress. This takes steady discipline (especially for a hothead like me). Years of getting the opposite of the desired result when I let my temper flare has worked to calm me through bad moments with my horses most of the time. I’m sure now that I’ve put that in writing I’ll go out and have a fit with one of mine. I don’t know any one who has mastered it completely. Hang in there.

    He sounds like a great fit for you, actually, even though he jumps up and down on your last nerve some days, YOU understand HIM. He is lucky to have you, and you are lucky to have him. Make that a big carrot.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Mapale – I sometimes think they understand us even better, and go for that last nerve just to have fun.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Agreed, J-J. They know.

    Several years ago I was riding Mischief past my neighbor’s and her mare was in season and running the fence. Oh brother did he put on a show for her! The pavement was too hot for his feet, his frame was perfect, every muscle taut, and he was hitting a lick on the ground about twenty times per minute. He was thinking how much better he would look if he didn’t have anyone in the saddle. So rather than dismounting, I stood up in the stirrups and said “!Quit!” He thought I was getting down, and as he is trained to stand like a statue when I dismount, he froze. LOL. I sat back down and said “See, I knew you could do it!” Too funny. After that display he just walked off shaking his head.

    They know.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    jessica_monks
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    You have some work to do! Take him to other barns that share this discipline. Rent there arena’s indoor and out worth with him there. It will mimic leaving the barn and going to a show. If you can take your time and lunge or round pen him first thing in the morning. Then get him on a trailer and go. If you need help contact local professional. If he is hot and is not responding as soon as he gets off the trailer then keep him on a lunge line walk with him as soon as he acts up lunge him right there till he calms then continue. He will soon realize that being bad leads to lots of unnecessary work. As far as diet I love smart calm ultra it works! Also no more grain feed cut it down slowly and make his diet high quality hay lots of it a timothy mix. Also he should have 24-7 turnout that will calm him.

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