Help me slow this guy down...
I'm riding a new Paso who is (1) fat (2) hasn't been ridden regularly and (3) is so intent upon go- go -going constantly I think he's going to give himself a heart attack!! He's an absolutely BEAUTIFUL ride when I can get him to relax. He was a show horse for 2 years (he's 8 now) and is solely used on the trail now. I've been working on voice commands to stop when he gets moving too fast (without me asking him to), doing turns into the fence (not sure what it's really called) and doing figure 8s to just slow him down. I hate to be in his mouth on our 4 hour rides not to mention my muscles are shaking by the time we get home. Any tips on how to work on a nice, calm walk? Especially when riding with one of our other horses. I have very little hands on training experience so any help would be GREATLY appreciated. I have fallen in love with this guy and really know he has it in him to be a great companion on the trail... if he'll just relax and slow down a little!
well, you might want to check what your horse is being fed with. Then, very hot horses needs to get out in the pasture\paddock as much as possible. he needs exercise, anytime you ride him have him free run in an indoor arena. Also watch out for the weather, cold excites them a lot, so you want to have him warmed up for about 15 good minutes before u ride him. if he doesnt respond to you when you ride him, use your legs well and any aid like pressure through your fingers. first start to have him calm in an indoor arena, then outdoor arena, then both of those with other horses with you doing random stuff near you, get him used to that, it takes time for horses and you need to be very patient. once you feel him calm try to walk outside of the arena but around it if you can and enlarge the distance few by few. He just needs to be trained as many times as possible. if you do that everyday, in three weeks he will be pretty calm and spirited.
what are you feeding him? I'd suggest no grain (so stop grain slowly if you are feeding him that since you don't want to cause colic) because that won't help with the weight factor and could possibly help with the energy level. Some horses, if they have an allergic reaction to grain will actually get hot (lots of energy....that being their reaction).
Remember to keep you're body energy low...relax on him. If you are expecting him to just bolt...guess what? He WILL! He will feel you're energy raise and could take off because of that.
If you have a field or an arena, I'd work with him in that. Work on stopping quickly, backing up, and circles.
Also, make sure there is no pain. Some horses run away from pain so if there is pain, he could be trying to get away from it by going faster.
Pasos are hot hot hot horses period. And, since he was a show horse, he is going to be programmed that way for some time. Just be patient and take things slow with him. My friend had a ex show Paso, and she was the same way. She is still go go go all the time though. the Enegizer bunny haha
I agree with the others, it's going to take some time. When riding with another person don't be afraid to express your concerns. Ask them not to take off ahead of you. If they want to trot or canter ask if you can lead, this way your guy isn't worried about trying to keep up.
Secondly, lots and lots of changes in gait and direction. If you keep him guessing what's coming next he has no choice but to listen. Try to make your cues feather light.
Double check your tack fit. Paso's can be hard to fit, and keep in mind the fitter he becomes your tack isn't going to fit him the same, so keep checking for hot spots.
If he's fat, cut back on the grain, Curly is right, they tend to be hot all on their own. Also, don't be afraid to just cut the grain out all at once, it's adding things to the diet that are more problematic than taking them away. Something new introduced to the diet needs to be done slowly to give the gut flora time to adjust.
It might help if you lunge him daily, as well as turning him outside. The lounging will help bring down his energy level by being worked everyday. He will also get some of that energy out of his system before you ride.
I agree with BGood, I would lunge him and just let him go until HE stops. It may take awhile, but he will burn out that extra energy before your ride.
My mare was really fat, hot and barely ridden when I got her just like your guy. :D
With her I spent a month or two just lunging her every day over poles and taking her on walks and basically barely riding her.
I discovered that once she lost all that weight, through lunging and a different diet, she was much much calmer to ride AND we have a really great bond now because I've spent so much time asking her to do things she does really well, like lunging.
Another thing I noticed is that once she lost weight (she was about 100-200 pounds overweight) her saddle fit better and now she seems to really enjoy being ridden.
One thing I would caution you about lunging is to watch your horse for signs of agitation. My mare would trot along happily but as soon as I asked her to canter she would start sticking her head way up, basically get freaked out and tune me out completely. So I'd just make her do walk trot transitions for 30 minutes and that seemed to be her kind of thing.
I would not lunge or set the horse free before a ride to ''get rid of the energy'', it tends to just work their shape up and make them harder and harder to get tired. A lot of time in a big pasture with other horses are always good tho.
You could try a bitless, like sidepull or riding cavesson (not hackamore), some hot horses relax and listen better to preassure from the nose, especally if they're used to a high tempo in their riding with a bit.
I'd also ride a lot with the seat, make shoulder in and shoulder outs (it's great for calming them down since they have to think and slow down.. and not very hard to do once you've learnt it, plus, they can be done on the road), leg yield if he starts to stress, try to move his rear and front to the sides etc. since that forces him to slow down and work. (Worked perfectly on my stressed standardbred) Work on changing speed and length of the steps. Avoid trot or faster gaits if that stresses him up and if it's difficult to get a calm walk afterwards.
I agree with everyone and it'll all boil down to the individual horse. My little mare was exactly like that, she was always wanting to go go go when I was in the saddle (for some reason she was really calm on the ground and when I was leading her). And it had nothing to do with her diet because she was out on pasture all the time, only getting grass which occasional supplementation of teff hay if the grass was a little in short supply.
But we found out with her, the more I asked her to slow down (with either my reins or my seat) the more she used to get hyped up and want to go faster and faster. So eventually (and I'm warning you, this takes quite a lot of time). I started riding her with no contact on the reins at all. And we had to take it slow. For a few weeks we just walked around, turning this way and that, using voice aids to slow her down and get her to stand still. And then we moved onto trotting and did the process all over again. It was the best way to get her to relax (we suspect she might have been abused at her previous owners which might be way she got so hyped up). And now I've started taking up the rein contact again, and she's fine, all calm and relaxed. You might need to do some work alone or hack out alone (if this is safe obviously).
The main thing I had to learn was patience, I had to realise that this wasnt going to be fixed in an instant and that there would be good and bad days. Sometimes you have to be prepared with just walking for an entire outride. I learnt that I was the first one who had to be relaxed before she would relax.
Sorry for my rambling there, hope it helped a little!
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