I never have liked the idea of working a horse out of his energy. If we want real collection, and we know that this takes a lot of effort by the horse... why would we work off his excess energy? If you were going to play a soccer game, would you run around until you look tired before you even started the game?
I teach my horses that despite them being wonky due to weather/wind/high energy/WHATEVER, they must put it to good use. I do not, will not, tolerate stupid, dangerous behavior just because they're fresh. My 1 and a half year old stud colt who is on 24/hr turnout will walk, stand, and wait to be let out into his pasture to play with the others on a cold day when he has been in a stall for the past two days. They ALL can learn, you just need to be consistent and have the skills to teach them.
When your horse is fresh, put his mind and energy to good use. This does not mean circles and serpentines... I don't know who started the idea that this was 'work' for a horse, but if this is the extent of work your horse can do, he's not bending and he's not working!
I do shoulders-in on a circle at a walk and trot--this is a GREAT warm up because it bends them gorgeously, gets those hindends active and gets their mind focused on where they need to put their legs. I do not tolerate bad behavior--this does not mean I punish, however! If the horse trys to rear/buck/what not, I push them right back into the exercise. Don't do ANYTHING else. If you make a big deal, they make a big deal. If you bring them back to a walk, they're going to learn that you WANT them to rear and be silly because you're REWARDING the bad behavior. Push them forward and just focus on getting the correct response by being soft, but as firm (NOT corrective or mean) as necessary to get the job done. Essentially, you are 'ignoring' the bad behavior. This has always, always worked for me.
I want my horse to know that when the saddle is on, his energy will be put to WORK only. This works every time. ;) Once you graduate from shoulders in, I do haunches in, leg yielding, etc. as additional warm-ups... and they also help build topline and butt muscle for him to move and carry you better! :)
Dressage in Jeans
- My blog with dressage tips for happy, relaxed horses, specifically for those who ride dressage in western saddles, no saddles, cowboy boots, or jeans. ;) Also now with cute pygmy goat pictures! :P