I Really Don't Know What to Do
Pre-P.S. I didn't know where else to post this, so it's going here.
As some of you may know, every so often I come on here and post about some problem or other I'm facing with Tango. Well, all those problems were just symptoms of a cause. The cause being, she has too much energy. She's the kind of horse that needs worked HARD every single day, and because she has too much energy her outlets are all negative ones (like purposely misbehaving just to see how you'll react-I'm not joking on this one). Previously she'd crowhop (I always thought it was bucking until she actually DID buck with me once-yeah, those definitely were not bucks), bolt, heck, even rear, and while she doesn't do that anymore, because for her it's just not natural, she is still so frustrated because she just has SO-MUCH-ENERGY.
Honestly, my plan with this horse was to be able to go out trail riding across the countryside by myself. Not only fun, but it would keep her energy levels at a decent amount and she might be the totally calm, quiet little pony I bought last summer. But with her so eager to run, I don't think I can go out by ourselves, simply because I don't know what would happen. Wind back to a year ago, I would've been out flying around the township on this horse, but now I just don't know. I'm angry at myself for not keeping her exercised enough, but it's like a never-ending circle: I can't go out alone because she's too hyper, and she's too hyper because I don't take her out. I do ride her at home, but I rarely canter because she's just...too hyper. I mean, one day I did trot and canter her for almost 3 hours and she was still ready to run a 50-mile marathon after. My instructor has told me to just get out and run until she's tired, and then run some more. It seems like the most logical way, but again, I'm not sure I should be galloping alone.
Ah...I've been talking like she's some insane nutcase, but honestly, she is the sweetest horse you'd ever meet. She's never kicked, reared on, lashed out at me etc etc, she's never thrown me or tried to and I've never fallen off her. All my time riding her alone she's never bucked or been malicious or violent (the one time she bucked-once-we were in a very trying riding lesson), and last summer she was just as gentle as a lamb. She's the kind of horse that would be great on a ranch somewhere, going out to check fences or cattle every day and working, and she'd without a doubt be the best horse on the farm.
Which makes the decision of whether or not to sell her so hard. I almost wish-so bad-that she was violent and aggressive, because it would be so much easier to get rid of her and not regret it. I've been brooding over it for months now, and I've never thought so hard about anything in my life. My instructor even said to me: "She's such a great and sweet horse that I'm never going to tell you that you should sell her, but at this point [after all we've gone through] if you came to me and told me you wanted to sell, I wouldn't tell you no, and I'd help you find a buyer." I almost broke into tears right there, because I knew we were nearing the end of the rope with her. If I did sell, I'd just be inconsolable for like a week, and I don't know if I'd even want another horse. Where would I ever find a horse like her? No vices, not a mean bone in her body..
Well, after SO much thought and personal strife and struggle, I've made my decision: I am going to keep her until the end of the summer, and I'd have the entire summer to work with her and try and get her calmed down and straightened out. I've been trying really hard to get someone-anyone-to come riding with me, but so far there's really been no biters. I'd like to get my instructor to go for a gallop with me, but she's always busy. I mean, do you think she might do that in the place of a riding lesson one night? I'd still pay her and everything, but Tuesday nights are the only times I see her. So I'm really at a loss. How can I get Tango exercised when I have no one to go with? Simply riding around home is not sufficient enough-as I stated above. So finally, my question is:
What else can I do to get her energy out?
A ridiculous question, but a fair one at that. And please, with all due respect, I don't want everyone telling me: Sell her! Sell her and get a new horse! Not because I'm going to say: "No, me and mah pretty poneh have the best friendship evah and I'll never sell her!", simply that I have given it more than enough thought already, and I've reached the decision that if I can't have her at a good enough spot by summer's end, however hard it is, I will be selling her. *I want to cry just thinking of that ='(*
Thank you if you read that!
I was in the same exact situation as you about 3 years ago. My horse was very hot headed. I switched his feed and he calmed down a little, but was still full of energy. When I rode him he would buck every single time I tried to canter him and most of the time he succeeded in getting me off. He bucked HARD. Then he would run away. My mom wanted me to sell him so bad. She wished that she was responsible for him so that she could sell him without my permission that's how mad she was at that horse! With patience, lots of round penning, long trotting, general riding, and time, he quit the bucking and bolts of energy. He's 10 now and still very energetic but he controls it way better than he did. When I was on the trails and my horse started getting one of his bursts of energy I would trot him in large circles, then continue on. Sometimes I would take him to the roundpen and just let him run to get some energy out before I rode him. Another thing could be what you're feeding her. Maybe switch to a lower energy feed? I know it is very discouraging to have a horse that won't cooperate with you :[. My horse that had all the energy in the world, everybody called him "Energizer," still has neverending energy, but has channeled it so well now and has learned to keep himself under control, and he's the best horse I've ever had. Hang in there and keep working with her. I wouldn't give up on her yet!
Thank you. That's kind of just what I needed right now. I'm very glad to hear that you were able to get over it; it gives me hope. Would you recommend lunging before every ride? I rarely if ever do, but maybe that would help? At least, I'd be able to canter without her getting fast and out of control. As for feed, all she has is grass and hay, no oats, grain, nothing high-energy, and she's still wired.
No problem :]. Let me know if I can be of anymore help to you. Even if just a pep talk. I know this is hard to go through. It takes a TON of patience. Lunging before riding would help you tremendously! I used to just let my horse in the round pen and let him run for a while before I cued him to come to the center. When you're on the trail and she gets frustrating to deal with, just trot large circles like I said earlier. Find a way to channel her energy. Maybe you could try using a different bit that offers more control? This is the bit I use on my horse (I ride western): http://www.horse.com/item/5-1-2-wide-roller-b-it/WBA29/
That's the exact same bit. Got it from that website. Use a chin strap with it if you decide to use it, or one like it. The roller keeps him very entertained! It helps him when he gets nervous or ancy.
What kind of hay are you feeding?
I am in the exact same situation as you - my horse has EXCEPTIONAL amounts of energy, and I can't trail ride him because he just hasn't got it goin' on in his cranium. He is my jumper, and he takes a fit when he sees jumps and plunges at them. What happens is that I would tense up, expecting him to throw a fit, and we would both end up fighting against each other. I tried running him, I tried lunging him before riding, I tried so much yet I still had a horse I could barely deal with.
Then one day I was out riding in the field and I let my reins get long. All of a sudden, he bolted into a canter. Before I had time to pick my reins up, I realized "hey.. he's JUST cantering." I slowed him to a walk again and then asked him to pick up a nice canter while in a frame. He did, and we got a wonderful canter. What was happening was that I was so tense and I made him tense, instead of listening to what he was trying to tell me, which was that cantering early on was a vital part of his warmup. He NEEDED that little run to take out some energy, before he could focus on walking and trotting properly. Even still, he will THROW himself at a jump, so we always warm up over cross rails. Once he gets it out of his system, he settles down and listens better then most horses.
The fact is, Cody could run for hours and still do a 25 mile endurance race, he's an arab, he's bred to have energy. But I was working against his energy and not listening to him, and he got so frustrated he would act out against me.
If you feel Tango is too much for you to handle, I think you should sell her, but maybe you should be listening to her a little bit too. :)
Jacksmama: Timothy hay, I believe? I don't know...I'll have to ask my dad when he gets in.
barrelracer: Yes, we've got her in a new bit 'cause the plain old snaffle wasn't enough. The one we've got her in is a D-ring snaffle but with a chain under her chin. I have no idea what it's called, but having the chain has really helped and made her pay attention. I'm gonna lunge from now on then. Actually, the few times I have she's been relatively quiet after-naturally.
kmacdougall: I do try to listen to her! =) I'd like to be able to just let her on a long rein like we do at the walk, but she just tries to go faster and faster. Of course, holding her back isn't helping her relax either..I don't know. I'll have to figure something out..
I call the chin straps my "brakes." Try letting her go on a loose rein in an enclosed area, like a large arena. Steer her of course though! Holding back on my horse just makes him more excited to run. I think kmacdougall has the same idea as me: find a way to channel that energy. Once you can do that, and stick with it, I think you'll do fine with her :]
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