Calming Down-What Do You Do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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Calming Down-What Do You Do?

Well...I've been thinking, and having my best friend and riding buddy feel as though he ruined a horse because he's never calm has me wanting to know what everyone else does to calm their horse down when he's hyper/nervous/fidgety/etc.
When my horse (whoever I'm riding) gets nervous or hyper I usually just talk to them (using shh and other calming sounds) and sometimes press my hand on their shoulder if I can handle them with the reins in one hand. It's worked on every horse I've ridden so far, so I've been sticking with it. I plan on having Drew try it out on his horse next time we go ride and he gets hyper, but I'd like to give him some more options he could try and like to hear what everyone else does.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 09:57 PM
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Well, I have persoannly learned that if they are anxious, let them walk Don't try and make them stand. Walk circles, flex their neck (bring their nose toward your foot until they "give, then release and do the other side...)
Keep them busy and thinking about what you will ask next. If I am on the trails I sometimes have to sort of zig-zag, or take the time in a clearing to do circles around trees.

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post #3 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 11:14 PM
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I actually try to not acknowledge the fact that the horse is agitated. I just go along riding as usual, but throw in a lot of lateral work, circles and changes of direction and gait. I feel like if I talk to my horse when he's being a butt, it just tells him he had reason to act that way since it got my attention. If I ignore him, it takes the drama queen (or king) aspect out of it.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 11:35 PM
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I do the circles, weave around the trees, lateral work, etc. too. But as I trail ride, I try to make sure the horse will always walk coming home. Sometimes it takes a lot of riding and time, but I try to get them into a calm state of mind before we head back.

My new mare, for instance, I got in the middle of winter, and she was hyper as all get-out. So rode her up and down hills in a really hilly area of the forest until I could point her towards home and she would walk. Then I tried to always give her loose rein. Sometimes she would get nervous or hyper again and I would have to tap the breaks, so to speak, but mainly they seem to stay calmer on a loose rein.

I don't know if your friend's horse refuses to walk, or expresses it's nervousness in other ways, but that is what I do if they are too worked up to walk home. Lots and lots of exercise. A tired horse is usually a calm horse.

If I want to canter or do faster work, I try to do that going away from home. Try to burn off the jet fuel on the way out, lol, and then work on walking on the way back when hopefully much of that energy is gone. Sometimes you can get so frustrated and the horse wants to jig all the way home, and you just can't win. But don't give up because often the next ride they behave like a different horse. It might even take a few rides to get that worked out of them, but with enough release of energy, eventually you should find the calm horse inside. Kind of like shaking up a bottle of soda, and you have to release the pressure in a controlled way until enough of the pressure is gone and they you can open the bottle.

Also, they like to learn routines. So if you always canter in a certain place, then the horse will get hyped up in that place in anticipation of the canter. So I try to keep them guessing and never always do my fast work in the same place. I may have a favorite cantering spot, but I will have them walk on that section of trail more than I canter it.

Anyway, I really don't know the details of your friend's horse's behavior, so I am making a lot of suppositions. But maybe some of it will be of help.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 11:48 PM
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I stop and flex them until they will give willingly and immediately to the pressure. If a horse is getting figidy, they aren't focused on you. Getting a horse to calm down is about doing something they can do, and getting their attention on you, not on what is scaring them/making them angry/frustrated.

Once I have their mind, then we continue on our way.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-12-2010, 11:55 PM
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When I have a horse that gets antzy or nervous, I just concentrate on moving their feet; figure eights, serpentines, etc, just to keep him focused on me, and not focused on 'blowing up' or continuing to act hyper. The most important thing is to remain calm, yourself, as a rider, because that in and of itself, really determines how the horse is going to act. They can tune in to their rider so well, so keeping your own cool, is so important, especially in a situation where the horse gets anzty over something else. I train horses as often as I can, so I definitely have experience in keeping a horse calm. Keeping his feet moving, and keeping yourself calm are the two best ways to do that.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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