How to tell if a horse is hot?
How do you know if a horse is hot? What is it? And what do you do to stop it?
If you have a horse that's "hot", it generally means that horse is especially hyper, tense, energetic, etc. There are certain breeds that have this stigma attached, i.e., thoroughbreds, arabs, etc.
If you have a horse that's hot I would highly suggest finding a trainer or a rider that's experienced and comfortable enough to ride through it to calm the horse. Some are hotter by nature and some just grow out of it.
When mine is acting hot for any reason I make sure I'm riding him with a strict purpose, I don't dilly dally in the arena and give him a reason to screw around. He has a job to do and he needs to know it. I might also recommend a lunge session of about 15-20 minutes that sometimes helps get the kinks out before a ride.
It's hard to offer up more without knowing the specifics, but I hope that helped a little!
Most hot horses rarely get over being "hot." Still, the term "hot" can also refer to a horse that is manageable but energetic. For example, I have a 7 yr old off-track thoroughbred. To me he is calm as can be but to others that have seen him call him "hot" because he jigs occasionally, tosses his head when he gets excited etc. My former horse was 16 yrs old and was at a clinic with George Morris (he didn/t know the horse's age). George Morris referred to him as a hot young TB because he had some serious power over fences and loved to jump so much he could get strong...but he wasn't stupid about it..just excited.
As Iquito pointed out, it is normally an attention matter at times. They need strict exercises with constant changes of exercise to keep their minds occupied..no just going endlessly around the outside of the arena. Do a lot of circles, serpentines, shoulder ins, across the diagonal, changes of gait, trotting over poles, figure 8s... anything that makes them have to focus rather than essentially tune you out. They also need to be worked daily meaning work, not necessarily moseying about.
Some horses are just explosions waiting to happen and you never really get their brains on their work...for these you need a good trainer who can lead you in the right direction in keeping the horse settled. These types can be dangerous if they aren't properly handled, not due to inherent meanness but just because they can be unpredictable in their reactions to situations.
There are calming supplements that can help, the most basic being vitamin B-1 but if the horse really is overly energetic these won't necessarily help as calming agents are meant to settle mentally rather then decrease energy.
Lunging is also an option but osme horses don't really expend energy on the lunge unless you are cantering them constantly. As a former trainer told me, endless lunging of a horse does just one thing, it gets the horse more fit. IFyou have a good sized and controllable clear area, like a fenced paddock or indoor arena, free lunge. This is just chasing the horse around and letting them run, buck, squeal, strike, play whatever until they get to the point they don't WANT to do all that..THEN I ride. I call free lungiung getting the stupid out of their shoes...mine needs a good 10 minute free lunge every couple of weeks and in most cases, I am just standing still inside the arena and just letting him go. He gets 9 hours of turnout in a huge field with 8 other horses and gets ridden 6 days a week so it isn't lack of work..he just likes to really stretch out and just run without having to worry about other horses joining in his "personal" game. I do notivce a serious difference in him when he doesn't get turned out for some reason..like bad weather. He turns inhto a proverbial pogo stick, what I refer to as his Hackney Pony imitation, when I am riding and it takes a good 45 mins just to settle him down enough where we can actually get something done.
Hot horses aren't for everyone. I know, because I have three! Rather than "stop" them, you channel their energy into positive work and try to help them through their nervousness. You have to find what works with every horse. With my TB mare, I have to give her mind something to do. My 25-yr old Paso naturally channels his energy into doing what I ask, and my TB gelding just needs to be worked through it. I'll take a hot horse over a lazy one anyday!
As others said, "hot" is generally part of the horses personality and often isn't something you can change, but with many horses you can certainly manage it. Hot isn't just super responsive to aids (like some think forward moving horses are) it is, to me, like a sort of lack of focus combined with excessive energy. I've ridden a few "hot" horses and really I don't like it, sure it's nice having a horse that moves, but they are just so much constant work, to me riding loses all it's fun.
Anyway, food is a big thing, the hot horse I owned was pretty sensitive to feed and different grasses so I'd pay close attention to what he was being fed, avoiding grains and other "heating" foods.
Where you keep them is also an issue. I stabled my horse at night, but it would have just been a stupid move on my part to stable him anymore. A horse with energy shouldn't be locked up or they're just going to develop vices and get worse. So I think all "hot" horses should be turned out, probably with other horses, so they can expend some energy.
Regular work is also important. These horses generally don't do well with occasional riding, so you'd look at riding them almost everyday, and try not to give them weeks off, unless it's a dedicated break.
Then address the way the rider rides. I think if you look at most riders with hot horses their riding makes the horse much worse, and makes the problem much worse. Most people with hot horses end up holding onto the reins, holding them back, stopping them jogging, but this restriction I think makes them much worse. Even when their horse is behaving, they have contact ready to jump in at the first sign of trouble. The best thing that worked with my old horse was to get him used to the idea that I would not be hanging onto his head all the time. When I was walking between places, or trails, or to the Cross-Country course etc, I'd be on a loose rein.
We practiced trotting and then cantering on a loose rein. Whenever I'd ask for contact, in the arena he'd be alright, but out I could already feel him become a little more nervous, a little more jumpy.
It is going to depend on your horse though. Some instructors will be great help, but others will try to force control through harsh bits and martingales etc. This is a "bandaid" fix, that treats the symptoms not the problem, so be careful who you take advice from.
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