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Help for fast horse

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  • Help for fast horse

    Hopefully someone will be able to give us some ideas for what might work for this horse--I hope it is not a lost cause. My daughter wants to eventually move up to the junior eq, so after a long search we found an 11 yr old warmblood that had previously done the jumpers but they were starting to ride him in the eq ring too. My daughter rode him and he was very good and quiet to the jumps. The owner told us he could sometimes get forward when jumping, but they were working on that and he was getting better. We even went to a couple shows and watched him go, and while he was forward and brave, he seemed to always be listening and never got too fast.

    Well, we now seem to have a different horse. He is super quiet on the flat and listens well. He is for the most part calm and no spook/buck/etc. But jumping is a different story. He wants to race down the lines, and pull her to the jumps, and speed up through the corners. He is sometimes like this when riding at home, but after a lot of halts in the lines, trot jumps, lateral work before and after each jump, he seems to have settled down and started listening most of the time. When he settles and listens, he is amazing--soft, very adjustable, etc. So it would seem like things are moving in the right direction except for one thing--he completely lights up in the show ring. All the training they have been doing goes out the window, and he wants to race down the lines and not listen at all. He can school very quietly in the morning (in the same ring), then just lose it during the actual show. She often has to circle during the course (sometimes more than once) just to try to maintain some semblance of control. When she does get him listening a bit, she feels like she really has to hold him the whole time, and they add strides in all the lines because she is afraid to let him move out. It is frustrating because he can be such a different horse from one day to the next. I don't think it is a medical or anxiety issue (for jumping in general) because when he is at home or schooling at a show he can be very quiet and just lope around the course (Not always, but he can do it). Maybe some kind of show ring anxiety, but other than when he is in the ring jumping, he is super quiet and calm at the shows.

    I am not sure why he was so quiet at the shows we watched before we bought him, but the weather was pretty hot so that may have something to do with it. I hope he wasn't drugged.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Are your classes in the jumper ring? He might still believe he is a jumper and that he should go fast at shows. We had one like this- lots of showing and consistantly being told to slow down helped, as did having a strong pro (man) take him in classes.
    Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


    • #3
      A barn change can mean a lot of changes in a horse's way of going, due to change in training, rider, feed, t/o, ect. Sometimes it's an easy fix to get the horse back to where it was in the previous program, but sometimes it just means the horse has to get used to your training program and you have to get used to the horse to figure out what makes it go at its best.
      The first thing I would do though, since you're only having serious issues in the show ring, is take a look at your show prep and medication and figure out where it differs from the previous barn.


      • #4
        You can also do a jumper class (in the same arena if possible) prior to doing an equitation class - not to go fast but to tire the horse a bit, get him used to the arena and the jumps, and to basically work the kinks out before going into the equitation arena. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting used to the arena and the jumps.
        The ultimate horse mom



        • #5
          I agree with CBoylen.

          Does he do the same thing with another rider (like your trainer)? Could be that your daughter is getting nervous and tense and he's feeding off of that. Sounds a lot like that, in fact, since he doesn't do it in the morning in the same ring if they're schooling. And once that cycle starts it can be very difficult to break without a lot of outside help.
          Flying F Sport Horses
          Horses in the NW


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the suggestions. I think that part of the problem is that he still thinks he is a jumper and he is supposed to go fast. But he would be too fast even for the jumper ring because he wants to take over and not really listen. It could also be barn/trainer/feed/TO change that he hasn't adapted to, but the more I think about it the more I think the owner was trying to tell me this has been an ongoing tendancy, but tell me it in a roundabout way. That is why I wanted to see him at a show, but I didn't see then what I am seeing now. Granted, when we bought him we knew he wasn't a horse that was going to go out and win in the Maclay finals, but I can't afford that horse anyway. But the horse we now have wouldn't even be able to make it around a relatively easy equitation course without a giant fight down each line and a few circles in between.

            She has been showing him in hunter classes first (he is not a hunter but just to get him in the ring) and he does seem to quiet a bit with each ride, but by the time she gets to her eq class he is either still fast or she is holding him so much that they add in every line. I know she just needs to figure him out, but it is taking longer than we had thought. (plus it is expensive to keep going to shows just to school, but oh well.) She is lunging him in the mornings and sometimes that helps. Maybe not feeding him any grain at shows will help too?? But he is not hyper at the show (actually usually pretty lazy), just in the ring. Also, he isn't getting a lot of turn out now with the weather not being great. Mostly I think it is just a mind set that he has, and he recognizes the difference between schooling and showing (fuller jumps, etc), and he just gets excited and wants to do what he was trained to do which is go fast. I just hope we can get him past that mind set. It is getting pretty frustrating because we think things are getting better, then we seem to be right back to square one.

            I think more showing so he can figure out what my daughter wants will help and maybe if/when he realizes she really doesn't want him to go fast, then he will start to listen. At least I hope, because my daughter was really looking forward to showing and moving up this season.

            As far as nervousness, that may well be part of it, but I don't think a huge part. My daughter is pretty calm about showing. I think most people get a little nervous when they go in to show, but she is not a nervous nelly and has never been. She rode him in a clinic awhile back. The first day was flat work, then jumping some lines and gymnastics and a mini course--she got a little nervous when it was time to jump because she didn't know if he would be a nutcase. He was perfect. Then the next day, a more complete course was set up and the jumps were fuller. She was feeling good because he had been so good the day before, but he was back to racing around. So on the day that she felt calmer, he was worse.

            If anyone else has dealt with anything like this and has any other suggestions, please let me know.

            Last edited by mandarin3; Jan. 6, 2010, 04:08 PM. Reason: To add more info


            • #7
              I would step the horse down a notch (or several) so that the jumps are of no consequence at all, perhaps in the hunter ring. Yes, you will blow some entry $$ but you are only going to solve the problem you describe IN the show ring (especially since you say he doesn't light up the same way when schooling at the show in the AM.) Find courses that the horse could literally trot over if necessary, and go in with the aim of maintaining a single, consistent canter around the whole simple course. Once your horse is able to do that, try a lower level eq class and again strive to maintain a smooth, even canter on a conservative track; at the lower levels this should be relatively easy to do since the lower level eq rarely includes difficult striding questions, and you can lower the level of difficulty simply by making roll back turns wider, etc.

              Be aware that your DD may be contributing to the issue by anticipating his behavior and getting tense or anxious. That is perfectly understandable, of course, and if it's the case, it makes even more sense to pursue the correction in a less demanding environment.

              ETA- ooops, seems we posted at the same time and you are already trying the ideas above. For now I would counsel patience, as it can take a while to sort out a new horse, and the factors you include above (limited turnout etc) aren't helping. I would definitely also investigate feed options and consider some pro rides. Good luck!


              • #8
                Having ridden a very hot (and very forward) Hanovarian/NZ Thoroughbred mare, I can relate to the situation.

                Richard Spooner's advice on riding a hot horse: more leg

                It actually does work. My trainers rode her with a strong leg and did very well with her. When I rode her with a strong leg and didn't lean forward - she was awesome to ride. When I got lazy or nervous about her speeding up over fences - things fell apart.


                • #9
                  I hate to say it, but perhaps the horse is trying to tell you he is happy in the jumper ring? Maybe he just isn't an eq horse.

                  And yes, if you watched him show on a hot day & it's now cold, it's a very good possibility it's going to make a difference. Do you know how he was prepared for the show? Did he spend 45 minutes being chased on the lunge followed by 60 minutes of cantering?

                  I agree with CBoylen that you need to find out what the horse's "program" was at the previous barn that made him an eq horse. See if you can duplicate it.
                  "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                  • #10
                    This situation sounds just like my daughter's horse. Like you we bought a jumper with the hope of making her into an equitation horse. It just is not working well. The mare wants to be a jumper. That is were she is happy. We have decided to sell her as a jumper instead of trying to change her. Sometimes horses find a job they like and resist changing into something they are not, especially with an older horse.


                    • #11
                      sounds like he knows his job when jumping which later when your daughter has mastered him she will want him to do more,
                      try putting him a volcanite kimblewick for the jumping side of things
                      as your daughter isnt as strong as you or your trianer and a kimblewick is a tad stronger than a snaffle but not as strong as a pelham


                      • #12
                        Besides the change in barns, prep and management, alot of horses with alot of show ring miles can get this way.

                        Why? Because they, #1, want to run and be done- they can count fences and know when they are done. And, #2, they KNOW the rider is not going to get after them, halt, circle or add up any lines in that show ring because it is the show ring and the judge is watching.

                        One huge difference between a (good)Pro ride and the average Ammy or kid ride in the show ring is the Pro does what needs to be done, the kid or Ammy rides to be mistake free and win. Hence the horse learns show ring = no correction. Or, worse, show ring = no correction then overraction to the result of no correction earlier so the horse gets upset at any mistake due to fear of nervous rider overreaction.

                        Way I read this, there is nothing wrong with the horse, not drugged or anything. Just knows DD-still new to him and he to her- will be riding to win, not to teach and correct that horse in the show ring. He is getting upset and, maybe, confused. So he tries to run away from it and be done.

                        Best advice is to plan on spending most of this year learning to ride this horse in the show ring and teaching him to perform as expected regardless of location. IMO he needs to stay in the Hunters and OUT of anything with striped poles or Eq style courses. Drop down in height and just go to local shows putting the quiet miles on him-and on DD because no doubt the nerves and tension there are not helping a thing.

                        AFTER he and DD are totally relaxed and confident, THEN you can step it back up. Right now you are not giving them a chance to really master that relaxation, you cannot rush it just because of slight improvement in a couple of Hunter trips.

                        So many tout the push button, finished horse without realizing they are no such thing and it takes time to learn to ride them and them to adjust to a new ride.

                        As always, please rule out any chance of pain from hocks, saddle or whatever. Uncomfortable horses act out and it may be more then just new surroundings.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #13
                          Honestly you answered your own question.

                          You said:

                          "When she does get him listening a bit, she feels like she really has to hold him the whole time, and they add strides in all the lines because she is afraid to let him move out"

                          Holding him causes the pulling, if she wouldn't hold him then he couldn't pull.

                          But you are now saying she has to hold him because he would run off if she didn't.

                          Well, what she has to learn, which can be very hard, because she has to trust and believe he will respond to her request, is to half halt correctly.

                          To half halt correctly requires much more than most trainers teach.

                          First and Foremost is the Timing of the half-halt, it must be when the horse is rocking back on his hind legs, the neck comes up, close your hands and resist, the amount of resistance is in direct correlation to how much you need to slow down or collect.

                          Next you need to LET GO, this is the hard part because it seems counter intuitive to let go, when the horse is going too forward, this is where she need to Trust that he will come back to her with the resistance and he must Trust her that she will let go. Once this sequence has been established, it will become easier and easier. Hope this helps.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Summit Springs Farm View Post
                            Honestly you answered your own question.

                            You said:

                            "When she does get him listening a bit, she feels like she really has to hold him the whole time, and they add strides in all the lines because she is afraid to let him move out"

                            Holding him causes the pulling, if she wouldn't hold him then he couldn't pull.

                            But you are now saying she has to hold him because he would run off if she didn't.

                            Well, what she has to learn, which can be very hard, because she has to trust and believe he will respond to her request, is to half halt correctly.

                            To half halt correctly requires much more than most trainers teach.

                            First and Foremost is the Timing of the half-halt, it must be when the horse is rocking back on his hind legs, the neck comes up, close your hands and resist, the amount of resistance is in direct correlation to how much you need to slow down or collect.

                            Next you need to LET GO, this is the hard part because it seems counter intuitive to let go, when the horse is going too forward, this is where she need to Trust that he will come back to her with the resistance and he must Trust her that she will let go. Once this sequence has been established, it will become easier and easier. Hope this helps.

                            If she is pulling enough to add, she's causing the running. Jet (my horse) will do the same. If you start pulling, he will get behind the bit, and run on the landing side. But your DD will have to first be ok with going a little faster than she wants until the horse figures out she isn't going to hang on his mouth. She needs to keep her leg softly on him, soft contact on the reins, and use half halts. Find some cheap schooling shows for her to practice at.


                            • #15
                              Just a suggestion but maybe he knows that during the "real deal" he will not be asked to halt after lines....all the slow down and think type schooling. He knows he gets to jump the whole course and other then a circle or two no major schooling. Maybe you could take him to a schooling show and school him when in the ring. So jump the line he gets fast stop him back him up, let him stand. Then start again if he gets fast school him again. Some shows will let you show but if you like not be placed.
                              I know I'm guilty of letting horse get away with stuff in the show ring that they would never at home! Some a really smart and know this

                              Is the rider nervous when it comes to the real thing? He could be sensing that.

                              He could think its a show I'm a jumper we should go fast, thats what I was told before.

                              Go back to showing smaller fences and trot them at a schooling show.

                              Maybe a more experienced rider could work/show him.

                              Also holding a fast horse back can make the situation worse. That tends to make them go faster. But its totally natural and in some situations its all you can do to keep them from totally going out of control!

                              Good luck


                              • #16
                                I had another thought, all of us are trying to help by changing the horse and or the situation.

                                IE. change the horse's program or the horse's prep, or move down or whatever has been offered here.

                                It came to me that what we all need to focus on is how to RIDE!!!!

                                I mean we need to RIDE our horses not just put them in a situation where they are good and we don't have to learn to RIDE!

                                OK off my soap box, back to figuring things out.


                                • #17
                                  jumper training =fast and careful.And that was his life.
                                  You need a good trainer to help you keep the careful but lose the fast.
                                  I leased one years ago to do hunters and it did not work for me. Since I knew I was not going to buy him I probably did not put a whole lot of effort into retraining


                                  • #18
                                    I like the idea of smaller fences-gives the horse a chance to get ho-hum about them. I have struggled with the constant pulling to slow a horse down, as well. It takes a tremendous amount of faith to give the horse the option to slow down on his own. Half-halts are very useful, just remember to give back once he responds-even if he only responds a little. Good luck, and know that if he is responding some times now, he will only get better with time.