Calming the Anxious Horse
I've done a search and can't seem to find much on this, but if you recall a related thread, please point me in that direction!
I have a 5 year old TB gelding who is pretty green but an absolute pleasure. He's extremely sensitive and responsive, but nearly every time we go to tack up, he becomes quite anxious. Part of his fidgeting is boredom, but most of it is just tension. We usually spend the first fifteen to twenty minutes of a ride just trying to relax and calm down by walking, often with a wide loose reign. A side effect of this is his constantly fighting the bit. I changed to a gentler bit, which really helped him relax and soften into my hands, but we still had to work through the anxiety at the beginning of the ride. After he relaxes, he goes back to being willing and responsive.
He is very energetic but not high strung. I'm thinking tomorrow we will try lunging a bit to balance him before working under saddle.
Anyone else have issues with this? How do you help your horse calm and relax? Based on your experience, any thoughts on the possibility of this being a personality trait vs something that can be trained away eventually?
ETA: I post this here because we're training for eventing. His previous owner says he does pretty well on the trail, but even after a warmup, I tried to simply ride him in an open field- one he is familiar with- and we took an unexpected, tense gallop.