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Tips on getting young horse used to the "scary warmup ring"?

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  • Tips on getting young horse used to the "scary warmup ring"?

    My young horse did his first H/J show this weekend, and even though we were really careful he still came a little bit unglued in the warmup ring. Any tips on how to get him used to the chaos? What we did this weekend was just pop in and out at moments when it wasn't very busy, then let him come out and chill for a while, then go back in.

    Any other ideas or is it just a question of patience, patience, patience/mileage, mileage, mileage?
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

  • #2
    It's easier to do at a busy barn, but I've been in lessons where the instructor introduced the students to "controlled chaos." This was also especially helpful for green horses. She's ask half of us to canter one direction, and tell the others to canter the other direction, then tell a couple of us to change direction. We were told what to do, but the horse just had to deal with what the rider did. You can also work on relevant things when you do ring work on your own. Pass other horses on the inside, pass other horses on the outside, canter past a trotting horse, etc.

    Glad Q survived!
    It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

    www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.

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    • #3
      I think every horse is different, but my greenie is pretty businesslike once he gets put to work, but it's hard for him to work until he's "seen" a new place. So I usually lunge him a bit *away* from schooling/the excitement once we get off the trailer. Not a ton of lunging. Just enough to get him moving and let him know we're going to be working and listening here.

      Then I tack him up and take him up to the ring and let him watch a bit with me standing on the ground. I can always tell what the day's going to be like at this point. If he's relaxed and watching, we're good and I get on. If he's tense or spooky, I walk him a bit on the ground near the schooling and wait until he's calm.

      Then I get on and I'll walk a few laps each direction on a loose rein just to let him see stuff. I don't really ask for anything. I just let him sighsee and get used to the activity. When I feel he's relaxed, then I'll put him to work and actually school.

      I do what you do, I try to work my schooling in when the ring is less busy and/or the craziest people leave-- but I also give myself time to wait until the horse is relaxed. I don't move on from one step to the next (lunge, watch without the rider, walk in the schooling ring, work in the schooling ring) until the horse is totally relaxed in the current step. Even if it takes a whole lot of walking in the schooling ring-- I just don't move on until he's relaxed. So I get to the shows really early and am flexible about classes, etc. to give myself enough time. Not rushing is critical for greenies, I think, sometimes they just need to settle in before their brains are ready to work.
      ~Veronica
      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
      http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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      • #4
        I try and lunge the young ones first and as others have stated try and wait til not so crazy for the first few shows. i also haul them to a lot of small local shows, even western shows, just to get them used to it. Go in during the breaks and ride them around, even if just walk/trotting. Once they figure it out they are fine, but really just have to be exposed to it several times to know it isn't that scary! I also try and avoid warmup timnes when kids on ponies are scurrying around!
        www.shawneeacres.net

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks y'all! P4M's solution would REALLY be the best one. Q is remarkably unflappable about new locations... I'm blessed in that regard. As long as he can get off the trailer and get a 20-minute handwalk, preferably with grazing involved, you can tack him up and go and he'll be fine. And he's fine in a big hack class, too, so it's really just the warmup with horses coming & going in all directions that sets him off. He wasn't awful, he did his work and jumped fine in there, but he gets up-headed when anxious (quel surprise) so he probably just needs to have more gigantic warmbloods come galloping straight at his Small Junior self.
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

          Comment


          • #6
            My guy used to have zero social skills. At his first couple of shows we would find somewhere quiet to hack alone. I would wait for a quiet moment in the designated warm-up, canter straight in, jump one or two jumps and come straight out and go to the show ring.

            I would advise using extra morning or afternoon hacks to accustom him to busy warm-up, i.e. don't try to fix this problem five minutes before your class. My problem was he would get up off the ground, not bucking just sort of leaping into the air. Sometimes almost striking at the other horse. He displays a lot of stallion characteristics despite being a gelding (he "breeds" mares if put to pasture with them). My horse is super responsive to voice cues so I used "easy" followed by "good boy" every time we passed another horse. I also took the reins in one hand and rested the other hand on his neck. I would pat his neck, firmly, every time we passed another horse. I felt like I had more control with the reins chocked up, and with the free hand I could grab the rein really close to the bit if he tried to bolt. After a two week show with a morning hack plus 3 classes a day, everyday...he was cured. You probably don't need to do that though as my horse sounds worse than yours. I was actually dismissed from a flat class once. Schooling show, 17 horses in the class...there was nearly a pony massacre. I'm proud to say he hacked at the show yesterday beautifully.

            Also, when he's fresh I canter straight off the bat. Lengthy trotting tends to get him more worked up and he's easily distracted. At the canter he's working harder and it is easier for him to focus.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, schedule some controlled chaos at home with horses running in all directions and passing too close. When you get there, just lead him to the rail and let him watch from the outside for a bit to absorb the atmosphere.

              I'll never forget Grey's and my first trip to the warm-up ring. it was after hours on arrival day, under lights. We had two pleasure carts, one longeing, and some dude walking along the inside of the rail smoking a cigarette with his Blue Heeler tagging alone. When my sister phone my Mom at home with the update, Mom had a worse reaction than the horse did.
              ::With age comes wisdom. Apparently "wisdom" weighs about 40 pounds.::

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              • #8
                Same suggestion as most of the rest of the posters- if you don't have a busy ring at home, see if you can haul in to a big, busy training facility somewhere a few times before heading to your next show.

                The chaos of our ring at home, and exposure to busy-ness from the time he was broke definitely led to my youngsters successful first outing to a big AA show. He only spooks or fusses when there *isn't* chaos now!

                Also, if you don't currently, try stuffing his ears, as he may be reacting to the sound rather than the close proximity. YMMV, but IME, a deaf horse is a happy horse.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                  Thanks y'all! P4M's solution would REALLY be the best one. Q is remarkably unflappable about new locations... I'm blessed in that regard. As long as he can get off the trailer and get a 20-minute handwalk, preferably with grazing involved, you can tack him up and go and he'll be fine. And he's fine in a big hack class, too, so it's really just the warmup with horses coming & going in all directions that sets him off. He wasn't awful, he did his work and jumped fine in there, but he gets up-headed when anxious (quel surprise) so he probably just needs to have more gigantic warmbloods come galloping straight at his Small Junior self.
                  I think the ultimate answer is "patience, patience, patience/mileage, mileage, mileage." My OTTB was such an idiot in the schooling ring for his first two years of shows that we MIGHT jump one fence before heading into the ring (which was okay at 3'6" but a little more unnerving as the fences got bigger!). But as he's become accustomed to the chaos of the schooling ring he's gotten much much better. I still have to watch out (the sound of rails coming down or a horse being hit with a whip just does him in), but now my only concern is making sure I'm not jumping a fence while someone else is jumping an adjacent fence coming towards us. And at least for my guy, there was no advantage to be had in lunging him or having him hanging out around the schooling ring....he was way to chill for that to affect him.
                  __________________________________
                  Flying F Sport Horses
                  Horses in the NW

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When in doubt, trot, don't walk, and make lots of changes of direction. I see lots of people that want to walk to get used to new places, and for some horses it's the worst gait for that, since they have lots of time to see exactly how scary it is . And make sure that you are looking where you are going, instead of looking directly at any horses close by.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Go to schooling shows and just go in some of the hack classes and use that for schooling. Once you've mastered "schooling" with everyone going in the same direction at the same speed, graduate to a warmup ring. Warmup rings tend to be horrible and I see way more accidents there than in the show ring.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                        When in doubt, trot, don't walk, and make lots of changes of direction. I see lots of people that want to walk to get used to new places, and for some horses it's the worst gait for that, since they have lots of time to see exactly how scary it is . And make sure that you are looking where you are going, instead of looking directly at any horses close by.
                        Thanks, yeah, that's what I think, too. He really is just fine in the hack - does NOT care. It's just bigger horses coming straight at him that makes him looky.
                        "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I disagree with most on needing to get the horse in even busier situations! Instead I would step it down a bit... make an inbetween step to reduce stress. The horse needs to know it's OK, not that it just gets worse and worse! I really like taking nervous greenies to schooling dressage shows. They usually let you come in and just ride the warm-up for 10-20 bucks (they give you a number for control purposes) There's no jumping and the horses are generally calmer. They are also doing less canter and galloping. There is usually way less horses in the areana at a time since with rides 5 minutes a part, a thirtly minute average warmup would put 6 horses in the areana compared to seeing more than double that at h/j shows. The whole show situation is much more soothing than at jumper shows (especially schooling )

                          You'll fit right in at dressage shows schooling in jumper tack... no one cares (they'll think your an eventer if you can handle that )

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ride the horse like it's BROKE. When people quite EXPECTING spooks and "baby/green" behavior and start EXPECTING the horse to ride like a BROKE horse it makes all the difference in the world. Treat them like a greenie/baby and they will act like one, but treat them like a BROKE horse and they will also act like one.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RougeEmpire View Post
                              Ride the horse like it's BROKE. When people quite EXPECTING spooks and "baby/green" behavior and start EXPECTING the horse to ride like a BROKE horse it makes all the difference in the world. Treat them like a greenie/baby and they will act like one, but treat them like a BROKE horse and they will also act like one.
                              This is SOOOO true!!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Time ! And being totally relaxed with a pattern.

                                I really like to flat the warm up ring different than home . I start off trotting and then alot of transitions and change of direction.
                                SPEAK UP--- I let people know oh not so close she is young. Especially the passing head to head.
                                I have had some in the warm up ring try to see if I brushed my teeth!!!!

                                My young one is awesome now but it takes again time and patience .

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Just throwing this out there...

                                  Perhaps getting a horse used to a scary warmup situation starts when they are babies. Socialize them a lot with other horses.

                                  I have a colt right now who doesn't get turned out with all our other horses (just a few adult geldings, he's the only foal here now) but sometimes he's allowed to wander around the barn to meet others across the fences and in their stalls. Hopefully this will help him not worry so much about strangers later in life.


                                  My other horse was in a big herd situation as a youngster at two separate farms, and he is fabulous around busy warmups full of strangers. I can't remember ever having him in a busy chaotic ring before he started horse showing, but he is really unflappable when it comes to other horses zooming at him, passing, etc..

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by fivesocks View Post
                                    My other horse was in a big herd situation as a youngster at two separate farms, and he is fabulous around busy warmups full of strangers. I can't remember ever having him in a busy chaotic ring before he started horse showing, but he is really unflappable when it comes to other horses zooming at him, passing, etc..

                                    My greenie also doesn't bat an eye at "horse chaos." He really could care less of horses are whizzing by him all different directions. This is weird, because our barn is pretty quiet and I can't ever recall having to ride at home with more than 2-3 other people in the ring, so who knows where he decided he was chill with tons of horses around.

                                    What does make him look are new "things." Like a jump with flowers different than what we have at home, or the water truck, announcer's booth, etc. So that's why the "walk around and look see" method works for him. THAT's what HE in particular needs to do to be relaxed-- he needs to see all the stuff. Not the other horses or really even the jumps-- but what's in and around the ring.

                                    I guess the key is knowing what works for your horse. If it's the other horses riling him up, recreate the situation at home and try to school when it's less chaotic at shows. If it's noise-- ear bunnies and desensitizing at home. If it's the "where the heck AM I," then I find the "meander" approach to work.

                                    I guess I am lucky, mine is a good egg-- not too much phases him. Plenty phases me!
                                    ~Veronica
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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