On a dead-serious note...with my goofy, bossy, rile-them-all-up (then) 3yo TB filly, I was able to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief when she started pasture games the second her insurance binder went through. Now I can watch her and say "Yeah, okay, so she may knock some of her teeth out, but at least I won't be on the hook for all the bills!"
Do you have anyplace where you can trail ride or hack up and down some serious hills? Maybe that could get the horse the feeling that he 'exerts' himself without the speed. I have access to some public parks with cracking hills and climbing. Also tons of rocks, but that helps slow the critters down too.
The best thing to do? Turn him out 24/7. Larger turnout is better than smaller.
I've don't know too many TBs who, after being confined in a stall for any amount of time, don't buck, run and play when turned out.
Make your turnout as safe as you possibly can and give him a sedate pasture buddy whose not likely to join in if he gets silly.
That is truly all you can do. But horses that are kept out 24/7 are much less likely to have that 15 minutes of pure silliness when first turned out than stalled
I suspect this won't help your anxiety, but a horse is MORE likely to hurt themselves in a stall than turned out. And more likely to injure themselves under saddle.
It is not you that you are a control freak in terms of the anxiety that he is going to hurt himself, you think of the pain, nevermind the money, or the destroyed horse so it is understandable. What is not rational is thinking you can prevent every little hurt. Some horses just have to learn how to gallop and not fall down, but you do have to watch some particularly heart stopping things first! I would go the route of this posters' suggestion if you can. If you cannot, go out in the field with him for the first little while and get him to move out so that he gets that first burst of nervous energy out. I teach, or I try to teach, my horses to go easy when I say "easy", even when they are in a full out gallop not in my control, I use it under saddle when they are starting to get out of hand, when I walk them and they try and walk over or around me, in other words, as one wise horseman said, "you are always training the horse, remember that." It does work with a sensible horse, but if the horse is running in a frenzy or panic at being alone, that is different than just a silly, or stupid one who contantly gets him or herself in some kind of trouble. These kinds of horses I never kept long. Sorry I cannot be of much more help but that is what I do.
Merry-go-round, thank you for the suggestion! I am going through something like this now at a boarding barn with an insecure pony who needs to be out with someone but BO is of the school, "they gotta learn" and "I tie them up in the barn for 3-4 hours so they learn patience", so your idea may be the best!
"We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK
I think of it like a child that had very strict rules and little freedom growing up and then goes to college and goes out of control because he/she cant handle the new found freedom, vs. the child who was raised with less of a death grip and goes off to college and is equipped to handle the increased freedom and adapts more easily.
Point being, the more you confine and try to control him, the more likely he is to go buck wild and get in trouble when left to his own devices.
My horse is out 24/7 and sometimes goes "buck wild" in his field when I open the back gate. But he knows his limits and acts accordingly because its not a novelty.
Plus, your own anxiety can only make it worse. Your horse can sense your fear and feed off of it.
Now I feel like a bad horse owner, 'cause after that first second to make sure nothing is broken, I laugh when my horses tank it being goof-balls.
Nah, I do it too. I have a mix-matched herd of 6, 2 are off the track and it's always a race...the others just don't get it. I always hold my breath as they bee-line through gates, but after that, I'm good. Years ago the QH didn't know she was not to be in the lead so she was cut-off at the gate by another TB we had at the time, and she plowed through the fence (fortunately with only minor injuries, but there was a major escape and I ended up chasing two OTTB's, one who'd been off the track a month, all over the country-side). To this day the QH waits in the rear and goes through the gate last .
Lucky actually warms himself up before he runs. (Trots a few laps first. He may have no work ethic to speak of under saddle but he took his training to heart.) Old OTTB would do the kick-buck-squeal-bolt thing. I think it just feels GOOD to stretch out.
They're horses. You just have to accept they could kill themselves at a walk so there's no point in wrapping them in cotton wool. They don't WANT to hurt themselves, either, and they actually are more careful than they look sometimes.
All I can say is just be glad you don't have a youngster... Their playing is so much more heart attack inducing than any adult horse I've had. I just got done watching my yearling do some seriously nutty laps around the pasture and my heart was in my throat the whole time... I did see some glimpses of a fantastic piaffe while he was trying to goad the pony into getting into the action though LOL
You really just have to get over it. If it makes you that nervous just walk away where you can't see him and check in on him periodically. They're going to run, it's what they do... And it's good for them!
He is a HORSE. He needs to move. The worse thing for him to be controlled all the time. Turn him out w/the pony as much as you possibily can.
The more time he is free, the less often he will have his "outbursts".
On a sidenote, in my experience, the very people that try to PROTECT their horses, are the very ones that THEIR horses are usually the crazy & insane ones.
Horses are big and powerful. There is NO way to stop them from moving. Quit fighting nature. Change your mindset, to ALLOWING your horse his free time out w/his pony. Let him be a horse. He will be happier, calmer and probably better under saddle.
The only time my Tb mare got hurt running was on the lunge line when she was bucking and acting up and she slipped and slid across the arena. She has fallen multiple times running around the pasture,not all witnessed, but she would take off when I would go out to get her, and return a few minutes later after running out of sight with obvious mud or grass on her butt. She's 17 this year and still occasionally gets a bug up her butt and runs, bucks, rears like a maniac.
The most serious injury my horse has sustained was while in the cross ties, on a rubber mat, on a quiet day...when he got stung by a bee, pulled back, slipped, and sustained a minor muscle tear. Accidents happen, and there's often nothing we can do about it with these animals. But it is true that with frequent turnout, horses get less excited and crazy. The novelty wears off after a while. And ultimately they'll be happier and healthier.
We have a herd of 8 geldings that all get turned out together - every day. Of the 8, 5 are TB's, 2 WB and 1 appendix. There is is at least 1 game of "We Run Now" every single day. Then there is the "OMG there is a monster in the woods" game, usually started by the herd clown. He will pretend to see something scary and spook - all the others run for the front pasture (through the woods, over the ditch) and come to a screeching stop just before the front fence, while he laughs.
And yes, sometimes there are wipeouts. Nothing funnier than watching one of em slip, and slide on their side for about 10 feet, get up, make sure nobody saw - if they did, there is the I meant to do that, wasn't it cool? Look. No injuries so far.
Just tell yourself that letting him run around is much safer than letting him drive a car.
I had an OTTB once that was out 24/7 except for feeding or riding. She would STILL take off bucking and playing when she was returned to her pasture, even after a long trail ride! I managed to condition her to not take off while I still had her halter halfway off (alfalfa cube treats work wonders) but she was just so full of play. And she was 8, so not really a youngster. Even when not being just turned out sometimes she would just race around and buck. She'd get the other horses all riled up and they would race around the pasture, she'd get to one end and then take off full blast to the other end, like she was reliving her racing days.
How I "get over it" is I am so much happier watching them be horses than watching them cooped up in a stall. I can't imagine my own life cooped up in a single room for very long - going to work is bad enough. Yes, I've had turn-out injuries (nearly life-threatening on one occasion) but I am careful about fencing, pasture footing (I'm obsessive about holes and rocks) and leave the rest up to them. I agree with the other posters that a horse that does not get enough turnout is more likely to injure themselves when they are turned out, although that is my personal opinion and I have no data to back that up
Repeat to yourself: "My horse is going to be an idiot. My horse is going to be an idiot. My horse is going to be an idiot." He's a Thoroughbred. They are born and bred to run around like crazy fools and scare the crap out of you. They will do this in the field and they will do this on the longe line. They will even do it on the longe line if they live outside in a 20-acre field. It is what they do, and if you can get into the mindset that he was born this way and he is probably not going to kill himself doing it today, it gets really entertaining to watch them tear around and so very clearly have a ball. If it makes you feel better, stand on the fence and yell "WHOOOOOOOOOA!" Know that he is not going to listen.
If you allow him to use his longe line time as play time, he will continue to run like an idiot on the longe line. Dbolte had some great suggestions about making sure your horse treats his longe line time as business, not pleasure.
If you are concerned he is going to be an idiot under saddle- you get on and he's breathing fire- point his rump up the biggest hill you can find and triple-dog-dare him to run up it. Even if he starts out thinking it's a good idea, he's going to have another thought very soon. Promise.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
You've gotten some great advice about pasture antics. I'd add just remember that horses are here to teach us (among other things) that most things turn out alright. Horse falls down? Usually gets back up and snorts and bucks some more. No biggie. Sort of the opposite of watching the news. The trick is in where you put your attention. Focus on the 1% chance of long term injury or laugh at the 99% of the time it is completely harmless goofiness. One is a lot more fun than the other.
Regarding galloping under tack, hire a trainer to gallop the horse once or twice a week. Get somebody who understands that going fast doesn't necessarily mean being out of control. Watch Rolex or Badminton xc to understand the difference. Watch the trainer work and get used to the idea, then maybe over time you can learn to do it yourself.