Competition Warmblood and Tbs - difficult to handle?
Thinking of becoming a groom but I wonder if competition horses (like Warmbloods and Tbs) are difficult to handle? I know that it depends on the particular horse and their training level but what is your experience?
I never worked with competition horses before but I have experience with some Arabian stallions and old competition horses that were retired but being in their late 20s I can't compare them with a young and fit competition horse. I always heard that Arabians are in general more difficult to handle but I never had a problem with them. I worked with three Arabian stallions and all of them were ok to handle, a bit to active and alert, two of them with a little rearing issue but besides of that they were ok. One of them was an active stud all his life (he is 10 now) but I can handle him with no problems around other horses with just a halter. It's true that he receives only alfalfa and no oats or supplement, does this affect greatly his behavior? I am firm enough with him but if he wanted to mount another horse or bolt while I am leading him I won't stand a chance to control him. He just doesn't have such ideas luckily :lol:.
Does a competition Tb or Warmblood has more energy and is more difficult to handle than a typical Arabian stallion?
I haven't dealt with arabs, however it is very much dependent on the horse.
You have to remember that when a horse is at its peak fitness level, it's going to have a lot of 'fizzy' energy which can mean that yes, you will get it launching itself off the ground and jumping around all over the place.
Very solid and regularly confirmed ground manners will help to contain this excess energy, but in general these 'equine athletes' do require skilled, confident and experienced handlers.
So much of this depends on the situation. If the three Arab stallions you handled were at the same barn and all either had very good and consistent handling, similar bloodlines (less hot ones) and/or had excellent environmental factors (lots of turnout, not a lot of grain, socialization) then they may not be ones to use as a generalization of Arab stallions vs. performance horses.
Same with judging the fit performance horses. If they have good environmental factors, training/handling history and are not fed excessively more than they need energy-wise, then they may be as well or better behaved than those stallions you were used to.
Any of the above horses with bad handling/training history, tons of pent-up energy and too much high energy feed can become nightmares to handle.
It would be better to assess what type of situation you are looking into, and then to consider your personality, how you react when horses misbehave, and how easily intimidated you are when horses become dangerous.
As a very general rule of thumb: Arabs are more sharp and sensitive. They will react quicker to something that sets them off but will also respond more to your reaction than a Warmblood or TB. In general, TBs and Warmbloods (which is a broad generalization since they have varied temperaments) will not explode quite as quickly but also will not respond to your reaction as easily and quickly as an Arab. They tend to internalize more, where an Arab often looks to the environment (and you) for clues of how and when to stop the behavior.
I wish my warmblood didn't explode as quickly ;) A blink of an eye and he's shot across the arena without me even noticing anything was wrong!
Two of the Arabs were rescued, I worked with them at the horse shelter were I volunteered. The other Arab was used only as a stud and at 10 years old he is not saddle broke yet. All of them received only alfalfa and bran mash sometimes. They had the same trainer though and he tends to educate his horses well. When they came they were spooky and two of them has rearing issues, you tried to pick their legs and they reared, you tried to halter them and they reared. I noticed that you only needed lots of patience with them. You needed to be very calm and insist with whatever you did. The one that I work with now is easy going and responsive, I helped with his training and now I am the only one that works with him, haltering, put the bridle on and lounging him. He has some moments when he refuses to be bridled or haltered but after couple of minutes he lets me put a hand on him. The problem is not the horse but our stable hand. He is not patient as I am and he scares the horses, almost all of the horses from the stable developed problems with accepting the halter and bridle.
I tend to be a firm handler, while volunteering at the horse shelter I've encountered different kind of horses, some of them were really aggressive and when you approached them you needed to be firm enough. If you were hesitant you gave them a moment to think and they usually tried to kick or bite. We have a very aggressive horse at the current stable were I work. I can lead him without supervision if he has already a halter on, I can groom, tack and lounge him under supervision. I could do all the things by myself but I'm a bit scared of him, he really attacks people and he made some victims in the time that I know him. He is not tolerant at all of hesitant people, if you show him for a single moment that you are scared or hesitant he attacks you. Because of that I tend to handle horses in a firm manner.
Only with Arabians I tend to be more patient because they are so easily scarred and sensible. They need a firm hand too sometimes.
So that's why I was asking, I don't know if my training and experience would be enough for me to be a competition groom. As I said I hadn't had the opportunity to work with athletes, with fit and well fed horses (horses that received high energy feed). If they are very strong and excited all the time I may have a problem handling them.
We have a horse with a training problem, whatever we do we can't get him over it. He bolts in hand, the only way to control him is having the bridle on. If you take him out only with his halter he can, and usually, will bolt. I am thinking that it's possible to encounter competition horses that do this because of their high energy level. In that case I won't know what to do except try to hold them but obviously if the horse is well determined I wouldn't stand a chance.
But if they would be just full of energy but manageable it would be ok, I can work with a horse that won't stand still for a moment, or with a horse that neigh and is alert all the time.
Thank you for responding :D, appreciate it.
ohh, double post. I edited it.
Kayty: guess they are full of energy :lol:
If you had a real problem horse like one that bolted off when being led in a halter, then it would be no different working with hot, competition horses. They would be employing the same measures you are using such as leading only with a bridle and bit or using a chain. Most often horses that are being used are well trained and exercised, and their issues will be related to high energy, in which case you may have to circle them or work with them to calm them down.
If you can stay out of the way of a horse's feet, circle a horse that is pulling in front of you, be watchful for nipping or head butting, be insistent about keeping your own space and be firm and confident at all times, then you should be able to work well with energetic horses.
The best of handlers get dragged a few feet sometimes, bonked in the head, pushed aside or stepped on. The key is knowing when you can step in and when you should just get out of the way.
Wish my WB was less explosive. He is far more explosive and hyper aware of everything than my arab ever was.
Top competition horses are fit, generaly very well fed and full of them selves.
Also be aware that some vices and behaviors may be tolerated because the horse is good at what it does.
My mum has tales from when she worked on THE top dressage of the 80's there was one certain dressage horse who won lots of olympic medals but you had to go into his stable in pairs as he would go for the first person whilst the second got his head collar on.
Competition horses can be more difficult to handle than your happy hackers but it realy does depend on the horse itself
The Arabian needs circling also sometimes when he is excited to be outside, but other days you won't guess he's a stallion.
I would have to get used to those tall warmbloods. I worked almost entirely with horses up to 15.3 - 16 hands. Guess I will wait and see how they truly are. We have competition horses too in some of the stables around my town but I can only visit them, don't have the opportunity to work with them to see how they are. From a distance they seem to be fine to handle but maybe I've encountered only the nice ones :lol:
Guess the problem is the way they are fed, when you give them so high-energy food they are hard to control, I can see this with our horses too. If we gave them supplements they tend to be harder to control on the ground or in the saddle. Even the gypsy cob even if he is so mellow almost all the time.
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