Relaxing a hot horse

This topic contains 33 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  llimeri 11 months ago.

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  • ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    I recently started riding an ex grand prix jumper at my barn, as nobody was riding him for the past year, and he behaves the best for me.
    He is 19years old and retired because of an injury, but it no longer bothers him, except he sometimes gets worried through his lead changes from left to right. He is sweet on the ground and has a puppy dog personality. He LOVES jumping, and has always been a tense, nervous horse. The rider was a strong man, so he could chanel that energy to win, however I find that it is difficult to deal with on the flat.
    His tack fits, and his saddle is checked 2x every year by a professional, and I ride him in a gag, which he goes okay in. I don’t want to use a harsh bit, but I like the gag for when he is pulls and braces against the bit.
    We’ve looked at his diet, and he gets hay, and Smart Calm, so that isn’t the problem. He is like the energizer bunny, you can lunge him, but you’d probably run him off his legs first. he loves working hard, and really wants to please.
    I want to do baby dressage with him this summer, but I need some exercises to help him relax. I’ve been trying to work on a stretchy trot, but as soon as he starts to relax, something will spook him and he’ll bring his head up again. (We board at an older barn, so when it is windy it gets really loud and spooky.)
    I’ve been working on relaxing myself, doing yoga, mental techniques, but when he gets really tense it makes me nervous. I know if I work hard, he is an awesome horse and I think he would like to compete.
    Do you have any ideas/exercises to help him?

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

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

    My Arabian was a lot like this when I got him (retired racehorse, not eventer), and he is most relaxed when I just ride him bareback. We vary our routine from day to day, so he is not as tense with anticipation of what we will do (because he doesn’t know what that might be). I don’t know how safe it might be for you to try this, but it works for us.

    It is never the horse's fault

    ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    That’s a good idea. Hopefully, we can start riding outside to mix things up a bit.
    I had three ideas:
    1. Playing relaxing music? There are like spa music things or the equi tempo app to help him settle into a slow rythm.
    2. I was looking into getting one if those hand massager things to go over him for a few minutes before I ride, also, I just got him some stuff from Draper Therapies to help him feel good.
    3. What about earplugs? I don’t know if it would block out the wind sounds to help him chill, would that be a good idea?

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

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

    Joe Joe does not believe in anything near his ears, but he loves massage (not with the hand thing which I did get and he hates it). Lavender oil rubbed on his face relaxes him, and he has his own MP3 player, which I often carry. Not relaxing music (he says it’s boring), but he LOVES Queen. His favorite song is “Another One Bites the Dust”, but I think it is because he can easily hear the beat. At any rate, we do serpentines and 8’s to it, and he knows when it ends and stops right on beat (as he is supposed to). Since I don’t know it that well, I sometimes end up on his neck. We have an external speaker, which I can clip either to the saddle or to my jeans.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Sarah
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have a 9yo OTTB who sounds similar in ways. Pippa is a doll on the ground, loves to jump and is very willing, but she has a tendency to be ‘up’ – very up, sometimes! Things we do:

    * Earplugs – they definitely help her focus. She (at least appears) to like them – she puts her head down for me to put them in. 🙂

    * Regular riding – and by regular, I mean every day, if possible! Generally we jump her two or three times a week, with ‘hack’ rides in between (these could be almost anything – w/t/c around the ring a few times in each direction, flat exercises, a trail ride, whatever). The more we ride her, the better she does.

    * Exercises at the walk. Not very exciting, I know… but sometimes I’ll let the reins out to the buckle and work on guiding her just with my legs at the walk – circles, figure 8’s, serpentines – the goal being to get her to relax and learn that she doesn’t have to be ‘up’ when she has a person on her back.

    * In lieu of lunging, just cantering around the ring for an extended period of time to take the edge off, so to speak (2 min in each direction, repeat as needed).

    One thing we definitely try to do is reward her for relaxing. She’s the sort of horse who will pull back if you just haul on the reins, but she responds very well to half halts and sea-sawing the reins lightly. If she gets real strong I’ll give one pull and then relax the reins immediately if she slows down.

    ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    That’s the thing though. You can run this horse off his legs on the lunge line or around the ring, amd he’ll be perfectly calm on the ground and a lunatic under saddle. I’m a quiet rider, that’s why I always ride the greenies. He goes better after he has had a few days off, but gets excited to work because he loves his job so much.
    We just started riding him in a multi ring double jointed snaffle with a flash noseband, which he really likes. I think he likes having things on his face, he’s insecure and likes being wrapped up. (Like swaddling a baby) I don’t like using a flash, but he likes it.
    He’s a weird one, it seems like he goes against all the normal things you would do for a hot horse.

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

    riley123
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Hello there!
    I totally understand where you are coming from. I have a 10 year old thoroughbred and when I first got him he was super forward. I really agree with Joe-Joe’s idea of riding him bareback. This usually helps me. If I am in the saddle and my horse is being energetic, I will also just drop my stirrups for a bit. It helps me a lot, but some people think differently. I would also suggest loads of figures in your warm ups. This always helps my horse focus and relax. Another suggestion is to allow him to have a long and low neck in between your dressage exercises. I usually find that my horse is so much more willing to stretch down after we have done some dressage. Hope this helps. Have a great ride!

    JD
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Lungeing is not just for getting energy out. Lunge with the purpose of getting his attention, making him focus on you. Move his front legs, back legs, make him walk, trot, walk, canter, reverse, keep mixing it up so he is looking to you to see what’s next and not focused on everything else. This works wonders with my OTTB. Do the same thing when you ride. Make sure he is focused on you. I even make little “chh chh” noises to get his attention sometimes, and keep mixing up the exervcises.

    JD
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Lungeing is not just for getting energy out. Lunge with the purpose of getting his attention, making him focus on you. Move his front legs, back legs, make him walk, trot, walk, canter, reverse, keep mixing it up so he is looking to you to see what’s next and not focused on everything else. This works wonders with my OTTB. Do the same thing when you ride. Make sure he is focused on you. I even make little “chh chh” noises to get his attention sometimes, and keep mixing up the exercises.

    Chris
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 14

    Instead of relying on a bit, have you tried a bitless bridle, side-pull or non-mechanical hackamore on this horse? Before riding, start with Clinton Anderson and/or Parelli methods to teach him to give to pressure using ground exercises first (this disengages the hindquarters and provides most effective brakes). Many good instructional videos are available on their websites and YouTube. For instance, can you play “the friendly game” with him anywhere/anytime without him getting all excited (consists of gently tossing a long lead rope all over his body)?

    Also very important IMO–make sure he gets all the turnout time possible with horse buddies (24/7 is best)! Years ago I had a friend who had a horse she called “DumDum” because he was so uptight and shied at everything. As soon as she moved to a barn where he was no longer confined to a stall, he rapidly became a completely different creature and CALM trail riding companion!

    My final suggestion is that, based on his history, this horse is at high risk for ulcers. Chronic pain can often cause a horse to have a very tense and high energy personality; they may try to “run away” from it if they can (often described as being “very forward”). I recently discovered a mostly holistic and quite inexpensive method for treating horse ulcers and it worked wonders for an old mare of mine with Cushings.
    Link is: http://www.spanishhorsetack.com/horse-ulcers-inexpensive-treatment/ Of course, have your vet take a look at it first to see if they might have any concerns. Best of luck!

    ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    Hmm. I like the idea of riding without stirrups/bareback, and the natural horsemanship.
    Lunging just isn’t his thing, he goes around like a robot, doesn’t buck or play, listens perfectly.
    I’m going to start looking at treatments for ulcers as we will be showing training level this summer.
    He is turned out 24/7 with two other horses
    What’s a goob brand of bitless bridles?

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

    catblue2
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I didn’t see if anyone asked about turn out for the old man? Let him get out and play on his own. Might take some time to teach him to relax and not go crazy outside. He’s used to LOTS of work and needs to learn to chill but you also need to remember to breath and release it out down your spine and seat to let him know to relax!! Any place to trail ride with calm quite horses along side of him to get him to enjoy and not want to run off on you? Don’t go out alone till your comfortable but always let someone know where your going. if you can, its getting harder as the urban sprawl takes more open spaces for riding. Glad your riding him. I have worked studs that had been hurt and stall bound except to bred and they can get nasty and mean. So he just will take time and the baby dressage will keep his mind active and not stress the older body. Enjoy him but build up some upper body strength so he doesn’t learn to get away from you.

    ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    He is turned out all the tiem in a huge field with two other “girlfriends”
    There’s lots of construction around out barn, but I can ask my trainer to go on a trail ride with me, hopefully it will stop snowing and we can use the outdoor.

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

    Chris
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 14

    For more info on bitless bridles, I’d recommend going to http://www.thehorseshoof.com and then click on “Bitless Riding” under “Education” at the left sidebar (free access to a number of pertinent articles). And if you’re open to going more “natural”, hope you’ll consider barefoot as well!

    ShilohsGirl Original Poster ShilohsGirl
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 49

    He is barefoot currently
    Would you reccomend a bitless bridle or a hachamore?

    "Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art" ~George Morris

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