Advice for a nervous and tense horse

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Advice for a nervous and tense horse

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    08-08-2011, 08:54 AM
Advice for a nervous and tense horse

I have a 15.3hh 12yo Appaloosa gelding (horse in my picture) wholm I have owned since he was a newly broken in 4yo. He had little education and I trained him to showjump myself (I was 14 when I first bought him).

He has such talent yet he is so difficult. His always been a very nervous horse. I originally bought him to do eventing with but he would never calm down enough in a dressage test. He is always tense, takes short nervous strides and fights me every step of the way. So I started jumping with him and when he jumps his really something.

But lately his just been getting worse and im at my wits end with him. Iv had his back checked over and fixed, his teeth are done, the saddle is fitted, iv tested/played with and experimented with different feeds/bits/techniques, you name it iv tried it, but nothing seems to help him relax and calm down.

His fine to handle, iv even taught him to bow, but once im on him, his a nightmare, mainy at home when im trying to keep him fit. Its like something in his brain flicks over, unless im holding him back its just go go go. (mind you his never bucked, reared, bitten or done anything nasty) I set up grids to take him through and he liturally smashes through them and lunges his entire body like a jumps racehorse?! Generally when I take him out to comps his an ace and on his best behavour, like he enjoys it? And his competing roughly 1.15m+ courses. But I just hate riding him any other time, and his starting to get worse everywhere im worried if I don't calm his down his not even going to be able to jump anymore.

Does anyone have a horse similar to this? Any ideas on training techniques to help him relax and trust me? Or other ideas? I feel as though he hates me and sees me as his enemy?! Iv owned and ridden him for 9 years. But I want to enjoy riding him and would love to calm him enough to compete dressage and start eventing him.
His becoming a danger to himself and me also! Thanks :)
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    08-08-2011, 10:44 AM
Yes I have a horse like this and mine is worse because he rears, crowhops, bucks, etc. With my horse all he ever seems to want to do is "go" and here's what I have done to calm him down...First you need to evaluate how you ride, do you tense-up? Brace your arms and legs? Sit forward in the saddle? All in anticipation to his nervousness? If so then you may be unintentionally cueing him forward. Take him in the round-pen and try relaxing your body and giving some slack in the reins and try controlling him with the slightest of cues, if you see no change at all and he still doesn't listen to you then try some ground work, mine greatly improved when I taught him to mind and respect me on the ground. I practice getting him to let me control his body by asking him to turn, bend, flex, yield, etc with my cues, it reinforces that I am leader and has made him more supple and softer. I also switched to riding him bitless. I know you said that you already have tried changing bits, but have you tried going bitless? Maybe he has bit-related issues? Mine sure did. Also I worked on desensitizing him to various things and situations(water, ropes, whips, being alone, riding at night, etc...)and that seemed to help make him calmer overall. Keep in mind that my horse is still very spirited, but I can now control him. Also i'm not a proffesional and you may just want to get a good trainer's help, but if you do try to take this task of training him on your own be patient and persistent, yet kind, you will gain your horse's trust when he understands you are his leader. Good luck!!!

appaloosa, calming, nervous horse, relaxing, showjumping

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