Calming down an excited horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-17-2010, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Calming down an excited horse

Okay, so I have just started loaning a 23 year old standardbred trotter. He is extemely sweet and a nice ride. We can only do hacking as there is no arena and only a field to school in. He is very well behaved whilst out hacking until it comes to go home. He gets very excited and jumpy because he's going home to see his friend that he has been with for most of his life. He starts pacing, bucking and shaking his head. Does anyone know anyway to possibly calm him down? Bearing in mind that I cannot change his feed or add supplements. Thanks :) x
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-17-2010, 04:27 PM
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Well, keep in mind this takes alot of patience & repetion but everytime he starts to get silly or unruly in an way, turn him in circles & dont stop turning him until he comes to a complete stop on his own (Keep his head pulled around to your toe until he halts with his head turned, then let his head out again) This can/may take a while. I've seen horses spin for five minutes straight until they finally thought to stop.
Horses dont like to spin in circles & it will wear him out.
If you do it everytime he starts to become difficult or bucks, etc, he will eventually see that these antics are going to result in something he doesn't like.
Again, depending on the horse it takes time! Good luck!

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post #3 of 12 Old 10-17-2010, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot! :) I'll definately give that a shot. I know it's going to take time but my only concern is that because he is 23, he is just going to be set in his ways :S doesn't turning them in circles not wind them up though? X
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-17-2010, 06:56 PM
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No it usually tires them out not only physically but mentally as well, which is more what you want to do. He can't bolt or buck while turning & like i said, they dont like to do it & it's a better punishment than just jerking back on the bit or getting frustrated.
Because he's older it may take him longer to get the point that making a fuss on the way home is going to result in him having to work/turn but horses are always able to learn new things/ways, unlike some people in the world lol

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-17-2010, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by alltimelowx View Post
I know it's going to take time but my only concern is that because he is 23, he is just going to be set in his ways :S
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I got my mare when she was 23 and she was bonkers! She had a rearing problem, would run off when I tried to get on as well as bucked and reared when I did manage to get on. And, on top of all that, she was ridiculously herd bound.
But, after a year and a half the light bulb suddenly seemed to come on in her head and she has been pretty well behaved since. No more rearing, no bucking, very little bolting, and I can now ride her out on trails, alone, and not have any worry about my ability to control her going out or coming back in. Now she's 25 and she's the easiest ride ever. She's finally what they would call "finished" and I can just get on and ride for fun, instead of having to train every step of the way.
Basically, I'm telling this story to show that behaviors they have at 23 and have had their whole lives can change! :) It might take a little longer than it would with a younger horse, but at the same time, it might not. Older horses generally don't want to tire themselves out completely fighting and usually they have had enough human experience to know that what they are doing isn't right, unlike younger horses who may have no idea.

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Last edited by Wallaby; 10-17-2010 at 07:19 PM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-14-2011, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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It turns out that he just doesn't like being kept in! He has recently been let out into the field at night as the weather is improving and he is like a different horse! He is so much calmer, which is good as my mum was almost going to make me give him up!

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post #7 of 12 Old 02-14-2011, 02:36 PM
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Whatever training method you try, make sure you always end it on a good note. Even if he only stands still for a second AND RELAXES, reward and quit. If he stands still rigid and tense, do not stop or you will be rewarding bad behavior. Horse's learn these concepts very quickly, if he does A, he'll get B. As long as that cause and effect is consistent, whatever method you try should eventually be successful.

By the way, I agree with Ruffian's idea of disengaging his hind end. If you try that, make sure not to use any leg. If you keep your inside leg on accidentally, he'll keep spinning and probably get confused whether you want him to stop or not. Just bring the one rein around and let go the split second he stands still and relaxes. Another thing you could try is just walk him back the other way when he starts prancing, so he starts associating acting badly get to his buddies with being taken away. Good luck.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-14-2011, 07:57 PM
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Just be careful with the tight circles thing, I know it work for some horses but if freaks mine out. He'll start going faster and bucking (or his sad excuse for a buck anyway :p).

Instead, I just make him work in a bigger circle. IMO If a horse is excited the worst thing you can do is try to make them stand and be quiet, it only makes them worse. Let them burn off that excitement in a more positive way. :)

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 05:31 PM
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I would try going out on a shortish ride and when you point his nose home, everytime he gets antsy turn him around and walk him the other way. Keep doing that until he realizes getting antsy will only result in walking away from home. It may take time, but that can be a hard habit to break.

Let me know if it helps! :)


You can tell a gelding. You can ask a stallion. But you must discuss it with a mare. -Unknown
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 09:19 PM
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What other calming techniques than a small circle?

So I have a question for anyone who may have some suggestions. My mustang gets VERY excited when she sees another horse in the distance. She starts snorting, holding her head high, tail goes straight up, and it nearly impossible to get her under control. If I am leading her I try turning her in circles but this just gets her bucking or rearing (like she'd do anything to get away and see that other horse). If I am riding I do the circles too, but this again gets her very frustrated and works her up even more and she starts rearing and bucking. The "calm-down cue" doesn't work, and I have tried quick jerks on her halter or bridle but nothing gets her attention. It is all I can do to hold onto her with reins or a lead rope and walk her home bucking and freaking out the whole way. Please help, any suggestions on what I can do to get her attention and under control? Thanks so much!
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