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Surviving the first 5 miles (HOT horse)

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  • Surviving the first 5 miles (HOT horse)

    Hi everyone, I was told to come to this board to take advantage of the wealth of good information and knowledge.
    For some background: I've been riding endurance very successfully for 3 years on a now 13-year old gelding. Just this year, a friend of my mom's asked me to take her 5 y/o mare on a couple of endurance rides. It has gone well - we've done 3 limited distances - placed top 10 in all 3. I think the horse has amazing potential and could definitely win easily with more mileage. The problem I'm having is that she is incredibly hot. Hottest horse I've ever ridden, easily. The first 5-10 miles are exhausting because of how riled up the horse gets. I am a very confident rider and do not get afraid or tense, but mare really feeds off of the energy of the other horses and riders. It is much worse when I get stuck in a pack, sometimes with riders that are not so knowledgeable and other green horses. All 3 races I've done I have waited a few minutes to avoid getting stuck in the initial rush, but I still manage to get caught up in some kind of excitement. I feel like I'm spending way too much of my and the horse's energy just trying to keep her from running away with me.

    What should I do? Does she just need more rides? What can I do at home?

    Also, the owner wants her ridden in a snaffle, which is what I've been doing. While I understand this, I really feel like I need something stronger; sometimes I feel like I have no brakes. I'm not at all a "hand rider" and just think it would be better for both of us. Owner has only been on said horse a couple of times in an indoor, so I don't think she's a great judge of what bit the horse needs. Am I right to feel this way?

  • #2
    The bit the horse needs in an indoor is not the same bit they need outside in the big wild world. I'm all for using slightly more bit and not needing it, rather than using a milder bit and sawing away at the horse's mouth every two seconds.

    What does she actually do? Spook? Jog? Grow a hand bigger?

    Can you keep her mind on you by asking for changes of pace or a bit of leg yielding?
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

    Comment


    • #3
      That is what I've been trying to do - keep her on my aids and paying attention to me. The good news is that each time I get a better feel for what keeps her occupied. The leg yielding definitely seems to work the best; but leg yielding for 5 miles is a lot of work LOL. When I can feel she wants to bolt and hold her back she does this hoppy thing; feels like she wants to rear but I don't let it get that far. I don't really want to spin her in circles because I think it's a bad habit but sometimes if I feel she's really heading for out of control mode I resort to it.

      I don't think the bit is going to be the miracle cure but I REALLY think it would help a lot.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hot Horse

        Hi,

        You used the word "race" and also "win" in your post about the mare. Horses pick up our emotions. If you are wound up and thinking "race", she will get that into her head too. Try thinking "ride" instead. Make her walk if she won't pay attention. Let her learn to let the other horses go off and leave her. Let her learn to let the other horses go off in a canter while you hold her to a steady trot. Practice this with friends first on a training ride if at all possible. Make her circle if she acts up. Who cares if it a bad habit? Getting hurt is a much worse thing. The number one thing in your mind should be that the horse is under your control at all times.

        My personal belief is that it shouldn't matter what bit you use. The horse should react to your touch and voice. Be it a snaffle or tom thumb or a Little S hackamore or even in a nylon halter, your horse should giddy up, whoa, and turn when you ask for it. When my horse Piper and I rode the Old Dominion 100 and Tevis, we went with only a standard cheap nylon halter for his headgear. I promise you that when you are going up or down Shermans Gap or along Pucker Point, the bit isn't important. The communication between you and the horse is what counts there.

        There is a serious school of thought among Endurance Riders that if you train a horse to go 25 miles, then that is what you will have until you train them to expect more miles. Some feel that they have a mental expectation for a long time that after 25 miles it is time to call it a day. My question would be if you have three LD's and top 10s in all of them, why not do a 50? She will learn , after you do 25 miles and head her out on trail yet again, to pace herself a bit better. I took my young (5 year old) for his first ride, not race, at Fun In The Sun this spring. We did a 55. No LD's. Straight to Endurance. Then we did a 50 a month later. By the way, he may have set or at least tied an AERC record with his first two rides. We finished in the Top 10 both rides, PLUS we got Turtle at both rides. a rare double/ double:-) We did the 55 in 7:45 and got turtle... those Florida folks were flying.

        I have found with hotter horses that if you give them an inch, they want to run a mile. My main horse, Piper, has gone through stages where he gets a race head. I just pull him off the trail to let riders by, and make him walk for a while until he settles down. Then we trot. If he tries to switch to the canter, unasked, I make him come to a full stop and walk again. He hasn't done this for a while. They will learn from consistancy.

        Hope this helps some,

        Paul N. Sidio
        KMA Chazz Piper
        VA Southern Gentleman (General Lee)
        Spokane MO

        Comment


        • #5
          It sounds like she has learned some bad habits. For a young horse's first endurance rides, I think its a good idea to start late and go very slow so they dont ever get a chance to think about the ride in terms of a race. My horse was never super hot to begin with, but he used to get pretty excited at ride starts, I would get off and walk if I felt that I was out of control and throughout the ride, we just went at a good steady pace, but never "racing", if he ever tried to, it was stopped immediately.

          I agree with you about the bit though. I dont like to use snaffles where any adrenaline activity is involved. As long as you have good hands for a stronger bit, I think it is kinder to use it, then pull and haul and have less control. But since its not your horse, I dont know...........

          If the horse can top ten LDs, I would enter a 50....go very slow....that will be a good experience for her, mentally and physically, better at this stage than racing an LD.

          Comment


          • #6
            can you find a buddy pacer horse? That's what I do with greenies or hot-heads, park them behind the pacer horse and they can just deal with that for a couple miles. When they straighten out their brain, move on out at their own pace. don't turn the horse into a LD race-brain idiot, just move her on to the slow 50's with a sensible rider on a calm buddy horse--they learn more in one good 50 than in a dozen fast LD's
            Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales
            http://windwalkerridge.cloud11.net

            Comment


            • #7
              Well imo..

              You are teaching her to race. You took her into 3 LDS and let her go at the speeds required to top 10 on a green inexperienced horse. This isn't the horses fault, this is a rider problem. Sorry

              I don't prescribe to the well... put her into a 50 and let her learn. What oft times happnes then, is you end up with a horse that is crazy for 15 miles instead of 5 as they get fitter. They haven't 'learned' anything- other then getting more fit and probably more crazy.

              It takes 2 years to develop the soft tissue and bone for a solid 50 miler horse. 3 years to develop a 100 miler horse. If you want said horse to last out a good solid career that is. Most of our family's endurance horses race well into their 20s.

              At this point, I am the main 'bringer up' of horses in our family now. I develop mostly 50 milers and my own horses are developed into 100 milers barring any unforeseen incidents.

              The 1st year of competition, I do LDS, at the back of the pack, and teach the horse to pace. I want them to learn to go my speed, which means I do not go out with the pack, I do not go for top ten. I'm usually somewhere like..25th.. hehe on a big ride. But that's not the point. The point on the 1st year is developing a solid, sane, strong horse.

              I do not begin to race a horse until well into their second year- if they've developed the body and brains for it. If they are still maniacs, then they get held back until they are ready to race.
              Originally posted by ExJumper
              Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with rainechyldes. I do not agree with racing in the first year or two of a horse's career. Maybe even longer. It really takes a long time to strengthen the leg structures for long term soundness. Also, they need mental training. You need to ride this horse regularly with other horses and do exercises with them to teach the horse to relax and accept.

                On the other hand, I personally don't choose to to the wait and start at the back thing. I think it can worsen the frustration that a horse feels when they are green, I mean, of course they naturally want to leave with the other horses and I do that but they must accept that some will pass them and go on ahead.

                I see so many people holding their green horses in camp and they are so often on spinning wacked out horses, fear in the riders eyes! Not everyone of course.

                Personally, I'll use other bits on horses if needed. I like a short shanked hackamore or a kimberwick bit. But so many riders have been brainwashed that every bit other than a snaffle is harsh, heavens, a single jointed snaffle can be a very harsh and uncomfortable bit in a horses mouth. A nicely shaped un-jointed bit can be much more comfortable for the horse mouth which helps them settle down.

                I suggest that you go back and work on some basics, slow down, train with others, tell the owner that you need to pick the bit.

                chicamuxen

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good thread. I don't have any advice to offer, since I've got precious little experience. I'm here to learn.

                  However, I have plenty of experience riding hot heads (ex racehorses). My tactic was to start out with a stronger bit and then switch to a milder bit once the horse wasn't feeling so fresh.
                  "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the OP feels comfortable with it they can shift to a Pelham and four reins (or even a full bit and bradoon). That would allow a "shift" from snaffle to curb and back as required by the situation. This was successful with my mare who can get "up" when she gets excited.

                    If the base temperment of the horse is "hot" then that's what you've got to work with. The only way to fix that is to replace the horse. This does not mean that the "heat" can't be directed in a positive way, only that you'll always be dealing with the "heat."

                    An aggressive rider can aggravate an already tense situation. If the rider is being too aggressive then they might want to "tone down" their approach.

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rainechyldes View Post
                      Well imo..

                      You are teaching her to race. You took her into 3 LDS and let her go at the speeds required to top 10 on a green inexperienced horse. This isn't the horses fault, this is a rider problem. Sorry

                      .
                      Have to agree with rainechykles.
                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't go out dead last as a rule,(although it depends) what I meant was I avoid going out with the front runners (sorry- hope that makes more sense) I do agree with Chix- if you end up going out dead last- make sure you don't sit on your horse at the start line, while others race out- it does frustrate a horse.

                        If I do end up going out dead last with an exceptionally difficult horse, I will most times not go anywhere near the starting area until everyone has left and the dust has settled- turning it into a trail ride for me and horse.

                        I tend to have a habit of riding alone when I'm bringing up new horses, so this is probably very specific to my habits of training/competing. As I dislike riding with more experienced horses when I'm on a greenie.

                        I tend towards extremely natural hot horses, I like them, they (hopefully) like me which in some respects is an odd combination, as I am naturally a very forward/aggressive rider- usually not a super great combo with very hot horses As a teenager I had to learn patience and to 'cool myself out' when starting these young horses in endurance. Hard lesson to learn for my type of personality- but it's paid off on the long run.

                        I start every horse in a snaffle, although once they can neck rein well,(and have a few rides completed) I will switch them out to either an S or english hackamore for better control and comfort, depending on which the horse prefers. I've only had one exception to this, a very hot Arabx gelding I bred & owned who absolutely hated any type of poll pressure, he still ran in a snaffle, on him I used halter/bridle combo and after the 1st loop, would pull off the snaffle and ride him off the halter. But when I was bringing him up, I seem, to recall (it's been about 15 years now) I ran him in a kimberwick for extra control - he was crazy hot -

                        As in 4 grown men had to hold him so I could get on at his first LD, screaming like a stallion, rearing/bucking/ jumping out of his pen (he spent the night locked in my trailer) kinda hot. He became an on the buckle 50 miler - proof that these type of horses can learn to pace and channel all that crazy

                        As an aside, he is still my all time favorite horse- he became an amazing endurance horse. Top 10s almost every 50 and many BCs. He completed every single ride he ever did. Sadly I lost him at age 11 in a pasture accident a week before our first 100. He is still what I consider my once in a lifetime horse.


                        What I aim for by the second year on these types of 'go go go omg I gotta go!' horses is being able to leave camp at the start on a loose rein. I usually manage it- but it never works until you've taught the horse to pace/ listen/relax - as in channelling that heat into constructive work. ei - teaching them their job.

                        Once they have that experience and knowledge under their belt, then I can begin to ride aggressively.
                        Last edited by rainechyldes; Aug. 14, 2009, 12:23 PM.
                        Originally posted by ExJumper
                        Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I used to do CTR with my horse's grandmother (he is too muscle bound to do any distance stuff) and she was a puller. I made sure she always went out early and just let her do a rolling canter for a bit until away from the others. I also rode her in a Tom Thumb snaffle (some leverage) and a hackamore/bosal so I had an alternative beyond her mouth to get her to listen. She preferred the bosal. Not sure if that is allowed but consider it.
                          Appy Trails,
                          Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                          member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh boy, this will be tough for me to type. I admit it - I like to race. I like to place as high as I can. I own a VERY hot Arab who feeds off my emotions and her and I have the time of our lives together. NOTHING in this world beats the feeling of galloping down a trail with your hands full of horse and knowing that if you touch the gas, that she will give you 2 more gears. I despise horses that have to be urged. Kick, whip, squeeze, cluck. Hate it. I want one who is fast and forward and in front of my leg always. I want to ride a horse that is brilliant and on fire. I don't like dead heads. I don't thugs. I don't like big ploppy bums that expect me to do all the work. That's just me. And that's why I own a hot Arab who also loves to race. I suspect that you are very similar.

                            Personally I see nothing wrong with that. I am ALWAYS more concerned for my horse's health and safety than winning. I would never ever push the horse beyond her capabilities, or overface her just to win something. But - when everything is right, and the horse is on fire, I want to go with it.

                            So, having realized all that, I had to learn to develop a method so me and the horse could work together to get what we both want, while not allowing things to get dangerous or stupid.

                            I adhere to the 3 John Lyons' rules:

                            1. You must stay safe
                            2. Horse must stay safe
                            3. Horse must be calmer at the end of a lesson than he was at the beginning.

                            No matter how much I love to gallop, and how hot my horse is, safety for her and myself is always top priority. That means I do a lot of ground work and training. I don't want a horse lugging on my arms. She lugs, then she gets turned in a circle, halted, and backed up. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. She has learned to be very light in the bridle and responsive.

                            Spend time doing lots of casual trail rides. Not conditioning rides, but just plunky fun rides with a friend. Teach the horse that not every ride means go fast.

                            The first 5 miles of an endurance ride is just getting her settled and focused. After the first 5, then she's on auto pilot. I don't have any desire to punish her, or to train out that fire. I raised that horse for a purpose, and that was to win on the endurance trail. You have to decide - do you want to hang in the back of the pack and walk/trot, or do you want to be a front runner and Top 10 or win? Me personally, I want to be in the front.

                            I have discussed this with front runners who consistently Top 10, and I've learned alot about the need to be safe, but at the same time not squelch the horse's natural brilliance and talent for the job you've put them in.

                            My horse knows the difference in trail rides, conditioning rides, and endurance rides. There's a guy who rides her who isn't a very good rider, but those 2 have things worked out. She knows her job is to carry him safely at whatever speed he asks for, even if that's a walk on a loose rein. But she also knows what it means to lave the start line at a canter and not look back.

                            When I was injured and it was all I could do to drag myself up onto her bareback and plug along the back pasture, wincing in pain, she took care of me. Horses are smart and they know what to do and when to do it.

                            People are so quick to criticize the racers, but the truth is, the sport of endurance is open to riders, and racers. If your horse is talented and brilliant and you want to nurture that winning spirit, then you nurture it. If you want your horse to leave the start line at a walk, and finish in the bottom handfull, then that's what you train for. I see nothing wrong with racing to win as long as it is done with tact, sportsmanship, horsemanship, and always with safety as the top priority.

                            It is perfectly possible to have a fast, hot, front runner that Top 10s or wins, but is still safe and sane at the same time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              .
                              Last edited by RiverK; Aug. 14, 2009, 03:34 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                A2, have you done an endurance ride yet? I thought you just did LD?

                                I see lots of people out there who Top Ten but cant really control their horses for the first 5 or 15 miles....that is their choice to ride like that, but if you WANT a horse under control, its generally not a good idea to let them rip in LDs right from the beginning. Most of the endurance RACERS that I know do start their horses out slowly and in 50s. The people serious about endurance racing would never race a green horse on an LD. It really is not teaching the horse anything good to get totally wound up in the beginning, tear through the ride and finish in a few hours. That is NOT a good foundation, mentally or physically, for 50-100 miles.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by saratoga View Post
                                  A2, have you done an endurance ride yet? I thought you just did LD?

                                  I see lots of people out there who Top Ten but cant really control their horses for the first 5 or 15 miles....that is their choice to ride like that, but if you WANT a horse under control, its generally not a good idea to let them rip in LDs right from the beginning. Most of the endurance RACERS that I know do start their horses out slowly and in 50s. The people serious about endurance racing would never race a green horse on an LD. It really is not teaching the horse anything good to get totally wound up in the beginning, tear through the ride and finish in a few hours. That is NOT a good foundation, mentally or physically, for 50-100 miles.
                                  So, so true.

                                  A2, I might have to disagree with you here. I have an incredibly talented, very forward, extremely fast gelding on his second year of endurance. He is extremely sensitive and HOT, so I knew the first season would set the stage for the rest of his career, which is hopefully very long. I handwalked him out of camp for the first several rides, and finished in the back of the pack. We did just shy of 400 endurance miles last year, and are 300 miles into the season this year. I do not feel that holding him back to a sensible and safe pace for his not fully developed soft tissues (including his brain) has hindered his talents or taken anything away from his being. Anyway, I am letting him move up this year in speed but considering my goals for him include 100's, I don't want him any faster in a 50 than I plan to do in a hundred.

                                  I guess it just depends on your goals. I raced my first horse through a couple seasons, starting with LD's. He didn't last, didn't hold up, despite him coming through the rides with excellent recoveries (he was 3rd place AERC Best Condition in year-end awards and I am a featherweight rider). He was also a monster and quite frankly no fun to ride.

                                  To the OP, I would forgo the racing for this year and the next. It truly does take several years to develop a top class athlete. People forget who won the last race, but they remember who has a zillion miles. Re-group, put her in a 50 and take all day to do it. It sucks but will prove a point to her. Multidays are also a great opportunity to prove a point!!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I compete in LD. At home, my horse has done 35 and 40 mile rides. I ride with several other endurance riders and we do long conditioning rides together.

                                    Anyway, if you want to actually race to win, and learn how to condition and train your horse for that, you won't find a lot of support on this forum. Find an endurance group for your region, and start making personal contacts. That's how I did it, and I met some amazing riders with whom to train and condition. You have to find like-minded folks, who understand your goals and have experience with attaining those goals themselves.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Auventera Two View Post
                                      I compete in LD. At home, my horse has done 35 and 40 mile rides. I ride with several other endurance riders and we do long conditioning rides together.

                                      Anyway, if you want to actually race to win, and learn how to condition and train your horse for that, you won't find a lot of support on this forum. Find an endurance group for your region, and start making personal contacts. That's how I did it, and I met some amazing riders with whom to train and condition. You have to find like-minded folks, who understand your goals and have experience with attaining those goals themselves.
                                      You won't find a lot of support of "racers" unless you are talking to other "racers".

                                      People tend to look down on LD'ers, especially the racers. I admit I used to be a racer, but I no longer do so because I've wisened up a bit.

                                      It is not smart to take a green horse, and race in it's first seasons of LD's. You're setting the horse up for failure in the long run.

                                      I don't care which way you slice or dice it, it is what it is.

                                      If the owner of the horse in the OP wants a horse for long term riding, and longer than just 25 miles I hope that the OP smartens up and stops racing.

                                      Log into ridecamp, read for a few weeks. You can bet your buns that they do not agree with racing a green horse on LD's.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        This is all timely advice/information for me and my young mare. I think I'll start her in CTR, which does not have the feel of a race. I had thought she'd be easy to rate until yesterday, when she got excited over race horses exercising in the distance. Even at that distance, she got all jazzed up and wanted to jig. I hate jigging. It gave me a little window into what the start of an endurance ride would be like on her.

                                        So, thanks OP for starting this thread, because it has brought out some excellent advice. My ultimate goal will be 50's if I do endurance instead of CTR. It sounds like two years of 25's while keeping a level head is a good base before moving up to 50's. I'd love to rack up lifetime mileage on her and want her to be sound and sane enough that my daughter can ride her.
                                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

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