Best Way to Keep a Hot Horse Calm Under Saddle
I had little issue riding my mare today, and I would like to seek your opinions on the best way to handle it.
She was very excitable today (Sunday). I took her out into the arena, and every time I asked for the jog, she would kind of pop up, like she wanted to lope. No biggie, I would say noooo, and she would continue at the jog. However she kept trying to pop up into the lope while we were jogging all on her own without a leg or heel on her.
Once I had her jogging consistently w/o being naughty, I asked for the lope, and it was terrible. I couldn't get her to collect, and whenever we hit the straight, she would really increase the speed, until we were almost galloping.
She was worked Friday, rode her Saturday (she was an angel), so I thought she would be calm for today's ride.
Does this just sound like a case of needing a good lunge before the ride? I have only had her for a week and I am still getting used to her.
Anyways, I suppose my big question is, what is the best way to keep a hot horse calm under saddle. I got frustrated with her, and I know that's not good. I want to make sure I am not exacerbating the problem, and making the right corrections.
Consistant work is usually very helpful for hot horses. My last horse was hot but controlable with the right recipe.
What is she being fed? Nicos big problem was too much starch in his diet. Once he was brought back down from all the sugars of sweet feed, that was half the battle.
He had to have consistant, 5 days a week work. I lunged before but not to get him to run it out...but to see what I was working with and to get him focused on me. No more than 5 minutes and only walk, trot.
Make sure all is right in the pain department. No saddlefitting issues that can cause a horse to be jiggy and hot. No mouth problems, bit problems.
Looooots of transitions and pattern type work - if you're in an arena, don't just ride the rail, do tons of figure 8's and serpentines, changes of direction, etc. Same at the canter - if she's getting worked up, immediately ask for smaller circles.
Hot horses usually just need more to think about - they're go-go type horses and if you don't channel that energy into something that makes them think, they get bored and simply want to run and have fun. I can ride my Paint filly in ENDLESS circuits around the arena and she's happier then anything. My Arab I have to be doing tons with her - transitions, circles, loops, etc. or she just gets silly and starts being a goon wanting to run.
Hot is usually just a term to describe a high energy horse who isn't being channeled properly. I dislike the term because people associate it with something bad, when MOST upper level Dressage horses (for example) are "hot" horses - but the energy is being channeled and ironically makes them look super calm when in reality a truly "calm" horse likely isn't going to make it in Grand Prix Dressage because they need such immense energy reserves.
Best of luck!
At the barn I ride at the horse I ride can be extremely excited so what I do is I breathe deeply and sit into my seat and be extremely calm and relaxed which helps her to relax. If that doesn't work usually every single time she tries to do a transition without me asking I circle her...sometimes I end up dizzy but it works. If neither of those work and she is still speeding up 1 of 2 things ride it then bring her down of keep riding it until she wants to stop then push her too keep going for like 10 seconds. If none of those work I would definitely lunge her before riding. I see your dilemma with that though because she is only hyper sometimes. So I hope this helps :)
Thanks everyone. I will definitely try serpentines and circles. I have to work on staying calm myself, for sure. When she speeds up, I automatically tense.... which I'm sure makes her tense, then I start bouncing in the saddle instead of staying deep and smooth, and then it all falls apart. :(
BTW, she is only being fed alfalfa hay, no sweet feeds at this time, because her work load is not that heavy.
Circles, circles, circles. As soon as she gives you a little more speed than you ask for take her in circles. Large ones at first then tighten them up if she isn't responding. The only downfall of this is if the arena is very busy. Also did you ride with other horses around this time and not last time??? Did anything change? Was the weather fresher?
I was by myself in the dressage (rubber) arena. The only thing I can think that she was possibly reacting to, was a frisky horse being lunged in the round pen next to us, but honestly, she didn't seem to be paying attention to him at all.
I told my trainer about it, and she thought it might be that her old owners mostly worked her in the dressage arena, as we have been working her in the top (sand) arena. That is where I had her Saturday, and she behaved wonderfully.
Both arenas are a good size, but the dressage arena is slightly larger, and wider. She really likes to pick up speed on the straights. I was thinking she might get excited with the wide open spaces.
The weather was quite warm both days, in the 80's. Tired me out, but not her. :oops:
...... Another thing I should add is, I'm not sure I would say she is a "hot" horse all around. Very sensitive to cues indeed, (rides in a D ring snaffle, no spurs) but this is the first time she has been so spunky w/ me. On Saturday, I had to push to keep her loping, Sunday all she wanted to do was lope!
The horse doesn't sound so super hot, it just sounds like a bit of not preparing the horse for the situation. Really, if you're riding in a new situation and the horse wants to go then set him up for success. Do lots of walk, a bit of trot, get that under control and then leave it for another time. Why would you say "my horse feels like it's going to take off" and then go for a canter?? You're just asking for an uncontrollable gait. Work the horse in the arena until you have all your aids and such figured out. Wait until you have a balanced, collected horse and then go see if you can canter on a long, straight line. You say she picks up speed on lines - again SET UP FOR SUCCESS. Don't do long lines, lots of circles and lots of transitions. Until she can canter, collected, down the entire arena, don't canter outside.
Circles, change of direction, lots of half halts, ground poles, and keep her focusing on you, not surroundings.
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