'hot' horse and tips to help him
Like it or not everything
you do on your horse is either training him or untraining him!
It is very important for the rider to have a relaxed yet poised position, the ability to use each body part independently and be constantly aware of how their aids and reactions are affecting their horse. While this sounds simple, it takes thousands of hours and experiencing many different horses and situations to achieve. The reality of the fact is that many riders must make work and family their priority and understandably can't devote eight plus hours a day to perfect their riding.
Reality faced, it is still possible to help your horse improve whether your goals are successful competitions or fun trail rides. Make sure your horse has ample turn out time with lots of grass or hay and minimal amounts of grain. Horses that are cooped up and fed lots of grain simply have too much energy and want to release it by running and playing, so make sure your horse has as much turn out as possible! Lungeing your horse can make him quieter to ride but learn to do it well so you progress your partnership rather than simply letting him burn energy. A round pen is wonderful, but again, you must understand your positioning and posture to really reap the benefits. Do not expect to bring your horse along at the same speed as a professional. Because your aids and timing will not be 100% perfect, you must allow your horse time to figure out exactly what you are asking. Repetition is key, but when you achieve the reaction you want twice in a row, move on to a different exercise. You're training sessions should be short but frequent, and always repeat exercises taught previously.
Every horse at the start of his training must be able to walk, trot and canter on a loose contact. By this I mean a short rein with no contact with the mouth, keeping your hands forward and your arms relaxed. This allows you to have a loose rein yet the ability to use the reins with little effort for steering and downward transitions. It is difficult to get hot horses to relax and master this vital part of basic training. If your horse is so worried that he can't stand still with you on his back, let him eat grass with you mounted. Initially, have a ground person with a lead rope so he can't take advantage of the very long rein and run away. Your horse needs to realize that life is not full of stress when you ride. After he can stand still and hang out in a relaxed manner progress to walk and trot with countless transitions in between, until the horse 'waits' for you. At this stage all you are looking for is relaxation and rhythm, brilliance can come later. Always use the lightest aid possible to get your horse to move forward. Most hot horses relax if the rider whispers the cue to go forward. Your horse must accept contact from your leg, but will rarely need a strong driving leg or spurs.
Make sure you use a mild bit. My favorite is the Myler Combination bit assuming that you can find someone who can explain how to fit and use it. If you want a more traditional type bit go with the Myler Comfort snaffle or a french link, neither will pinch his tongue like a single jointed snaffle. Bits with a low port as seen in many Myler bits and also Kimberwicks can be a good choice. These bits work more on the bars of the horses mouth than the tongue and are sometimes readily accepted. Don't be afraid to experiment to find the bit your horse is most comfortable in. If he doesn't like it he will be even more tense and high headed than usual. Hot horses simply have not learned to yield to the pressure of the bit and not understanding why the pressure is there they get worried and stronger, riders then apply more pressure because they have trouble stopping them and the cycle continues. Force will make matters worse, your horse must understand the bit to respond correctly to it. Rein-Aid elastic inserts can help him 'get it'. The combination of elastic and leather backing interact to instantly reward the horse when he softens to the bit. The consistent release of pressure when the horse softens gives him confidence in the bit making him more relaxed and trusting.
I also like to teach
the horse to back up, remember that at the beginning of each backwards
step he takes you must soften the rein to reinforce the 'you give, I give'
concept. If your horse does not know how to back up, use a high fence
or barrier to start. Apply rein pressure and as soon as he even thinks
of going back release the pressure.
Sadly, months of great consistent work can be ruined in one day if your horse becomes scared and looses his trust in your judgment, so increase your demands and exposure to new things in tiny increments. All disciplines have proven methods for teaching horses the specific things required for your chosen discipline. Read books, watch videos and get help from someone knowledgeable so you ensure that your horse remains relaxed and fun to ride. Ride trained horses if that's at all possible and constantly work on your own relaxation and a correct position that flows in harmony with your horse. Take the slow approach, nobody EVER ruined a horse by going slowly with his training. Enjoy the process, because we are privileged to be able to ride and become partners with these wonderful animals.