I am posting here because I think I need a breakdown of why this might be happening. I have a hunter pony in training who is naturally a little hot. For the past while though, he has been in steady, consistent work and has been coming out lovely and quiet, settling in happily and going right to work. What's bothering me is that often the more he does the hotter he gets, and I am not sure how to help him through this. I know he likes his work, he comes when I call him to go for his ride. He is getting stronger and more supple all the time, but this late school hotness/quickness seems to still be there.
My mare gets like this, right after we start work in the canter. We can canter to warm up, but once we canter, start doing some c-w transitions, come back to trot, TOH, etc, she gets all wound up and just wants to canter. She just loves to canter, and it never gets less exciting for her.
My horses get hotter during the ride as well. If things get going too much I will take a walk break for a while on a loose rein, if they are still walking very quickly and not getting quieter I will take up the reins and force a slow motion walk, which at first meets with a little resistance but when they realize I am unyielding they will slow down and relax and I can let out the reins and keep the slow motion gait. After that I am better able to control the tempo in other gaits.
He starts off sleepy-quiet, tootling around on a loose rein. (And I always do a bit of groundwork first.) We can jog quietly on a loose rein (with a few reminders). When I gather him up for a serious trot, his life comes up, and he's a different horse. By the time we're ready to canter, he's wired. Now it's very hard for him to walk or jog on a loose rein (though he can if I'm very persistant). He'd much rather careen around the arena at this point.
I think this is an innate characteristic. I don't really have a solution for it.
Hampton, the mare I exercise often does this too, we warm up in the canter and then she wants to go go go. I find my trainer telling me to watch my seat, and use half halts or even feathering (I call it that because it's like two half halts per stride, ends up making me look like I'm playing piano on the reins for a second)...she gets the idea pretty quickly that we are ready to move on to collection work not just canter around all day.
Vbunny I'm no expert but I usually think of it as my mare tends to want to please me and get's a bit excited at the idea of doing things that make me happy... try relaxing your seat too, I always forget that sometimes me taking a deep breath and relaxing myself makes the horse follow suit.
it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
I think of it as 'volunteer syndrome' with my guy...
In his case, we warm up, and he starts really coming through and forward, and he's offering... "you want this? no, howbout THIS? no? ThIS then?"
The stronger he gets, the less it happens. He gets *too* light and offers lots of different things, I think, rather than settle into the work that is a little harder.
A couple things helped. One was looking at his diet. He needed more 'bottom.' We were hitting the wall at the same time every ride instead of getting stronger. I had to find a way to get some more protein into him without more energy. In his case, it was adding some Lysine. Plus an extra serving of beetpulp with flax and oil on top of his regular feed & free choice hay...
The other thing that helped--but really, was in conjunction with the feed change, so I can't really know which helped the most-- was to just STOP working when he got to that point, without getting off. Whether it was just walking and halt-walk tranistions for the rest of the ride... or breaking out of the ring and walking the hills, or simply going out on the road to finish the time. Eventually he mellowed out of it, and now only does it when he's aerobically more fit than his muscles are fit.
And now I can recognize that, and plan my riding sessions accordingly. It might take 2 or 3 rides of stopping and JUST WALKING or walk.halt.wait.walk, lather rinse repeat, until he gets over it. But at least we don't end up in the downward spiral we were in before.
I have a horse with "Volunteer syndrome" as well. He is very eager to please and is always wondering "is it time to canter?"
When he does this I end up reacting to him and he is leading the dance!
So I avoid this by getting him react to me from the start of each ride. I do lots of bending, move this shoulders around, move his haunches around, put his pole up, put his pole down, half pass, leg yield, pirouettes, etc all at the walk. This ends up serving 2 purposes; gets him supple and on my aids. I keep him thinking about what I am going to ask for next instead of him deciding what he is going to offer next.
My older mare, who was a school horse for a long time, had the workouts memorized. Once you'd done the walk and trot, then taken a walk break, she knew it was time for the canter part and would just pick up a canter (in the corner) each time, since that's where students were always told to pick up the canter. She really was just trying to help! Or if you put cross rails out she would know that it was time to canter, and you could hardly trot them - she would just keep picking up the canter on every turn down the line to the cross rails. Made her easy for a beginner to ride in some ways, but also challenging.
If I really wanted her to pay attention, I would stop doing the "routine" and make each workout completely different, mixing things up so she couldn't anticipate the pattern.
Sometimes it's mental: anticipation, eagerness, nervousness. Sometimes it's physical in a good way. The horse canters or jumps, his back warms up and suddenly his stride and energy increase exponentially.
Sometimes it's physical in some horses as they tire. Although this may not seem intuitive, I've known a few horses like this. The first part of their warmup is good, as they push from their hind ends, and take big, slow strides. As the hind end tires, they don't get slower, they get faster. Because it's getting harder to push from behind, they start to fall on their forehands, and pull from the front. They get quicker. It makes them tense and rushy.
If that's the case, take frequent breaks and as you are strengthening the pony. Try to quit on a good note before he gets tense and quick. Well timed half halts and transitions will also help.
"Volunteer syndrome" is widespread throughout the land, it sounds like.
My horse too. Once the adrenilene level is up from cantering, he tends to get wound up. At first I was giving him a long rein afterwards, so he would relax, but then the moment I picked up the reins he would be all anticipatory. I have found a few ways
One thing that helps is to mix up the canter with complex figures at the walk - like haunches-in on a small circle, that require him to focus on where he is putting his legs. He is still going forward, but not anticipating a depart. Complexity is calming for him.
If I don't redirect his energy, he can get a little frustrated. I don't want him jigging or launching into false starts, so I have to be creative.
This has helped. I can't say its a magic fix.
On the whole, I'd rather have this problem than lazy. Then I get frustrated!
If he loves his work, he may just be getting excited and worked up. He may really need to have alot of time learning down transitions - walking, quiet, I know you are working on up transitions, but lessons on settling down, simple as that sounds, may be what he wants. If he's anticipating, he may need that you focus on anything but what he anticipates.
Also, the horse I was riding did the same thing with trot to canter transitions, until he was actually stronger. If you are doing dressage with this pony, and you know it takes muscling and a different use of back and hocks to use themselves that way, he may really not be ready to carry himself easily at the canter. Hollowing his back and getting worked up may be easier than keeping focused and round at a canter, and, again, he may be anticipating something.
I would stay at a trot for a long time and keep him there, spirals, circles, lateral work, and keep him busy and focused. Any time he loses that focus, bring him back, including the transition to a canter. Just have to wait for him to be capable of continuing to listen, maybe.
Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.
Check for ulcers- as you move into faster gaits the stomach acid sloshes around more, which can irritate ulcers and cause the 'hot' behavior. Try feeding a small meal before you ride, or give a few tums.
Oh my mare is not volunteering anything except to canter. She doesn't care if it's collected, loose rein and me in 2-point, stretchy, mediums, or an all-out gallop. She just wants to canter. Period. So trying to do the canter-walk is an exercise in patience for me! Which is good because I have to keep my cool with her.
She's 19. She's strong. She's pretty fit. She just loves to canter.
I am kind of in the 'get tired, then anxious' camp. Actually, I am in all the camps mentioned earlier... They come out, work really well over the back, connected, etc., and that's a lot of work. Then, they fatigue and get anxious about being pushed to where it's difficult now.
Add in allergies (I know they make me lower energy) and the discomfort of arthritis, etc., and it can make for a horse not wanting to go there anymore, and he compensates by rushing...??
Thanks everyone. Lots to think about. I have had more success with walking and letting him take frequent breaks, and really asking him to slooowwww down. I keep thinking he'll get over it and settle but maybe he won't? He used to struggle most with a balanced canter, but it's quite good now. Now the issue is when he starts jumping (he is meant to be hunter pony but would be better suited to dressage, which he seams to like a lot). He is not terribly good at it, and stresses but wants to get it done = rushes+excitement. When he stresses his breathing gets compromised which I am sure is stressful too. So, more breaks, calming exercises, consistency (he does best with that), clearly define whoa.
I do walk breaks and a brief return to what is familiar and non-challenging, wait until I feel the deep breaths and then quietly re-introduce the more challenging request.
When I started teaching my mare simple changes (walk to canter and vice versa) she would get nervous and fidgety, often cantering before I asked her to. And although training happens when you push near the edge, when we got too close to that edge, I'd go back to doing easy work. For her that is nice and big stretching circles. I'd pat her and let her know that she was doing the correct thing. Once both of our minds were clear again, we'd return to the simple change work.
"A canter is a cure for every evil." -Benjamin Disraeli