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What exactly is a "hot" horse?

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  • What exactly is a "hot" horse?

    I've been doing some virtual horse shopping (I'm not in the position to get another one until late fall). I was researching Dutch Harness horses, being taken by their flashy movement in sales listings. Many people described them as very hot. That got me to thinking... what exactly is "hot"? Is it another word for "spooky"? Not sane?
    Often, ads will use "sensitive and forward" in conjunction with hot so it would seem those are two distinct characteristics. I'm interested in sensitive and forward, but not up for "crazy".
    I'm really interested in hearing others' interpretation of hot.

  • #2
    Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post
    I've been doing some virtual horse shopping (I'm not in the position to get another one until late fall). I was researching Dutch Harness horses, being taken by their flashy movement in sales listings. Many people described them as very hot. That got me to thinking... what exactly is "hot"? Is it another word for "spooky"? Not sane?
    Often, ads will use "sensitive and forward" in conjunction with hot so it would seem those are two distinct characteristics. I'm interested in sensitive and forward, but not up for "crazy".
    I'm really interested in hearing others' interpretation of hot.
    A hot horse may be one with a fever, a temperature of over 102F.

    The "hot" horses I have known or ridden were considered hot because as the rider made more demands of them, they became more alert and reactive.
    Some times that is good, means a horse that will turn it on and have more energy as you go.
    Some times, when that means inconsistent performer by that extra energy being hard to channel or the horse becoming distracted or worried by the pressure, not so good.

    One example, a young reining horse just learning and as it catches on it starts anticipating and overworking, that tends to be considered a hot horse.
    In the hands of a pro, that horse really will shine, but it won't become easily an amateur or junior horse, not unless it changes as it matures and gains experience.
    Some never do, they stay very sharp, "hot" all their lives.

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    • #3
      To me, "hot" is the exact opposite of a kick ride. Nothing to do with crazy or spooky.
      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

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      • #4
        Yes, I would also say that it is a very forward horse that wants to move, and may get snorty and prancy if denied that movement.

        But honestly like every descriptor in the horse world, "hot" can mean many things. I can see someone calling a horse "hot" as just forward and sensitive, and I can also see someone calling a horse hot that has some behavior problems as well. You honestly won't know until you go and watch the owner ride first, and then try the horse.

        Also a hot horse, especially a young one, ridden by a cautious or nervous or handsy rider, will absolutely develop behavior problems from frustration. If he can't go forward he may decide he needs to go sideways, or up in the air.

        Some riders have a calming effect on horses, but are still comfortable using minimal aids and allowing for a little zoom. Others have an exciting effect on horses (and may love to get hot horses very hot). Others may get anxious when they feel out of control and get heavy with the aids. This last category of rider should probably stay away from hot horses.

        That said, the Arabians I have seen are "hot" but they tend to express it as prancy and fancy, as opposed to the hot OTTB that want to express it by running a mile at top speed no matter what is in the way. The working QH I have seen get really hot doing their job, but then they can stand and wait for the next cue or cow, in a way that few hot Arabs or OTTB could manage. I think harness horses are bred to be hot in harness, meaning they want to do a big trot forward, but that doesn't necessarily mean spooky.

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        • #5
          It depends on who is using the term, IMHO.

          A "hot" Q/TB might not be the same as a "hot" WB.

          In my terms, I classify a hot horse as a horse that is very forward thinking and more of a mental ride.

          Too often "hot" can mean "difficult", which I think tends to have roots in physical discomfort.

          Generally, if I see "hot" in an advertisement I assume undiagnosed problem. This might not always be the case for all horses - some lines are genuinely a handful and some breeds have a bit more octane than others.. but I've looked at enough horses that had 'hot' in their advertisement to realize it's normally a key-word for something else besides basic temperament.

          But... to give you an example of how it's important to take "hot" with a grain of salt..
          I recently attempted to lease out my quiet/sane BN-N TB gelding during my surgery lay-up. I put an ad out that had 2 videos of him, both which accurately depicted how he is to ride: sensible, quiet, but needs a good and quiet hand *mentioned in the ad.

          I had a HJ trainer who wanted him for her lesson student and possible string. It sounded like the perfect match - I have always had people joke I am wasting his talent as an eventer and that he wants to be a hunter-jumper.. HJ trainer came out with her student, tried him, and he was not being his normal quiet self. I noticed she was being really handsy, and didn't love it but didn't say anything. He was tense and rushing through the aids. After a few laps where he was really tense and not settling, I notice she was riding him in long-neck spurs! I don't know how I didn't realize before, but I guess I was too preoccupied filling student in on what he was like.. anyway, she didn't even canter him. She pulled him up, got off, handed me the reins and said "this horse is way too hot to be a hunter"

          I found a 15 y/o HJer that is riding him now and doing a wonderful job with him.
          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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          • #6
            Hot isn't necessarily spooky or nuts or anything like that. You CAN have a hot and spooky horse... but I think hot is its own individual descriptor. A hot horse, to me, is one that is always on and usually quite sensitive to their rider (for worse or for better). They have a lot of go go go to them and are absolutely not a kick ride. Hot also does not mean, necessarily, that they are strong. Many hot horses need a lighter vs heavier hand and/or seat. If you aren't a confident ride and aren't comfortable riding a horse with a good self propelled motor that can sometimes get a little strung out and needs a reminder to tone it down at times that will notice everything you do as a rider (from shifting the balance in your heels to sitting deeper with your seat etc) then don't buy a hot one!

            Honestly, if there is a particular horse you are interested in just ask the owner what their quirks are.

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            • #7
              "Hot" means to me a horse that you just need to "think" and s/he does..... Love those!

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              • #8
                To me, a "hot" horse is one that will get "worked up" when doing certain things. In general, they tend to have more energy as well.

                For example, a jumping horse that really gets prancy before a course.
                Or a barrel racing horse that really gets on the muscle before a run.
                Or a reining horse that needs to be "ridden down" before they go in the show pen.

                To me, "hot" has nothing to do with being spooky. Or being sane.

                You can certainly blow up a hot horse (and make them not sane) if you overwork or overdo it with them, but of course that's the fault of the rider and not the horse.

                One horse I have now (Dexter), I could consider him "hot" at times. He is very sensitive and very light and can get prancy (but still listens). For example, some days he will just not walk home nicely. He'll do more of a jog/jig. While I could force him to walk, sometimes it's a matter of picking your battles because I know that's just his temperment. However, most of the time he will walk along fine on a loose rein.

                He's the type of horse that would probably loose him mind if someone whipped/spurred him a lot, and would certainly lose his mind if he were over-run numerous times on speed events. He just mentally would not handle that. To me, that's what "hot" means.
                It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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                • #9
                  I like @beau159's description of "hot" best (so far). To me, it's a horse that while doing fairly normal horse jobs has the tendency to get worked up to the point that the line between safe and dangerous behavior is more likely to be crossed.

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                  • #10
                    Spooky, Hot, and Forward all mean separate things to me. Some may overlap a little, but they're pretty distinct entities.

                    Spooky is reactive to external stimuli in a fear sense. A horse isn't spooking at the rider's leg, the horse is seeing/hearing/responding to something (real, or imagined...)

                    Forward is just that - forward momentum. If a rider removes all aids (not driving with leg, neutral seat, drops the reins) what happens? Does the horse stay the way they are going, break and slow down, or break and move quicker? Horses on the more extreme end of the forward spectrum to me not just have forward momentum in-pace, but have a tendency to always want to "kick it up" another gear.

                    Hot horses can be a bit of a combination of both of the above, but to me they are generally best defined as "(rider) reactive". Another alternative is that they can be described as sharp, or electric - the more you ask of them, the quicker their reaction time can get (and the more energy they seem to generate). The more pressure you put on them (ask them questions they respond to, ask for more of them) they can internalize some of that tension from the request and they seem to just get "more". More electric, more vibrant, quicker off the leg, quicker off the seat. For the record, this is neither good nor bad. It all is entirely dependent on the diplomacy of the rider to negotiate the tension and the energy generated by such a ride. Under tactful riding (or brilliant riding) these horses can shine. Under bad riding, these horses can develop some spectacularly bad habits because they have no outlet for all the energy.

                    (To recap: Most hot horses are probably going to be forward horses, but not all forward horses are going to be hot horses - and spooky can be hot or forward horses, but also may not be, though sometimes hot horses become more spooky especially if they have tension/energy that a rider isn't doing a good job directing in which case the hot horse may be so amped up they start spooking at things they otherwise typically wouldn't.)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Edre View Post
                      Hot horses can be a bit of a combination of both of the above, but to me they are generally best defined as "(rider) reactive". Another alternative is that they can be described as sharp, or electric - the more you ask of them, the quicker their reaction time can get (and the more energy they seem to generate). The more pressure you put on them (ask them questions they respond to, ask for more of them) they can internalize some of that tension from the request and they seem to just get "more". More electric, more vibrant, quicker off the leg, quicker off the seat. For the record, this is neither good nor bad. It all is entirely dependent on the diplomacy of the rider to negotiate the tension and the energy generated by such a ride. Under tactful riding (or brilliant riding) these horses can shine. Under bad riding, these horses can develop some spectacularly bad habits because they have no outlet for all the energy.
                      Edre, I think you described it well.

                      My former trainer used to call a certain horse a "sports car", where other people might have called her "hot". Plenty of torque, instantaneous shifting, precision handling. Think driving a Lambo vs. a base Honda Civic. You might oversteer or open up the throttle too much and end up in some trouble if you don't know what to expect, and it might be more of a production to go places with it if you are trying to do things where power and precision aren't really advantageous. Not a great fit for an anxious driver. But it can be a lot of fun in the right hands. If you're into that kind of a ride, the bright side is that unlike sports cars, hot horses don't necessarily come with a high dollar price tag. The downside is that unlike cars, the fun in hot horses often depends on having appropriate/tactful training under their belt, not just having someone skilled in the driver's seat.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Edre View Post

                        ....generally best defined as "(rider) reactive". It all is entirely dependent on the diplomacy of the rider to negotiate the tension and the energy generated.... Under tactful riding (or brilliant riding) these horses can shine. Under bad riding, these horses can develop some spectacularly bad habits because they have no outlet for all the energy.
                        Totally agree.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          To me, a “hot” horse is one that has a tendency to respond with energy and movement to basically any stimulus, good, bad, on the ground, under saddle, in the stall, out at pasture, wherever. The ones that need drugs to walk out after enforced stall rest and still try to be kites. The ones that are like a loaded spring at the pasture gate and (assuming decent ground manner training) go ripping off at a gallop to visit their buddies as soon as you get the halter off or give whatever permission has been trained into them. The ones that pace the fence line when they see the food truck instead of standing at their bucket. The ones that have to be taught and constantly or episodically reminded during training how to slow down and relax and accept having leg, without revving their engine like a drag car peeling out. Their disobediences, if present, are going to tend to be more energetic and high motion (bolting instead of spook-in-place, barging over people on the ground instead of balking or lagging and trying to graze, running through the hands rather than ignoring the leg, rushing fences and taking long spots rather than plodding along and chipping), but they are not necessarily inherently more disobedient, or even spooky, than a horse that is not “hot.” Might be scarier and more dangerous when it happens, particularly if the rider/handler is a novice, but the root of the unwanted behavior really isn’t any different, it’s just the expression of it.

                          There’s no doubt in my mind that the most successful competition horses in most disciplines are at least a little bit “hot.” A good trainer can package all that energy and get it to come back out again as power in a jumper or expressiveness in a dressage horse. I read an article some time ago, don’t recall the details, from a BNT in Dressage who said something along the lines of “The best Grand Prix horses are usually a real pain and not particularly successful in the show ring as youngsters.”

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                          • #14
                            Hot to me means quick thinking, reactive, and needs to have that energy and thinking power directed in a positive manner or they get themselves in trouble. They never work out for a rider that doesn't appreciate the quick reaction and has to make all aids "big" in order to be heard. A horse being hot, has nothing to do with being sane. Also, misbehavior in a hot horse is no difference than misbehavior in a non-hot horse. Its all about directing that energy and giving an outlet. I come from the world of ASB's, Arabians, Hackneys, harness horses, they are generally considered "hot". Misbehavior is different that having quirks that you work around for brilliance.


                            "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten

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                            • #15
                              I've had a rider make my normally quiet, steady, sane horse into a hot mess.
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                              • #16
                                I have a sensitive and reactive horse (likely for sale lol) but he is not hot. He is actually more lazy. Hot to me is an overall term that can incorporate spooky, sensitive, etc. You’d have to ask the owner exactly what is meant by hot. For most amateurs, I would not recommend anything hot.

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                                • #17
                                  It seems obvious from this thread that "hot" means different things to different people. It is therefore not very helpful as a descriptor for a horse you dont know without additional information.

                                  Still, I'll play! To me "hot" first means a horse that is reactive - for better or worse. Second, it is a horse that wants to GO. Not always how or where you want, but prefers movement, often at high speed. Third, these horses often work up instead of down. Instead of getting the sillies out with a few bucks on the lunge line, the hot horse will get more excited. And finally, they tend to be sensitive in some regards. It may not always translate always going off of light aids, but when tuned in, they are usually extremely responsive (as their training allows).

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                                  • #18
                                    This is basically repeating some other things already said, but to me, a "forward" horse is one that, when you put your leg on lightly or ask to respond, they are thinking "Yes!" with no hesitation. A "hot" horse is one that, whether you are asking it to do something or not, they are thinking "Gogogogogogo!" and it might take a bit of tactful riding to convert the "hot" to "forward".

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                                    • #19
                                      In my area 'hot' is often used for horses that get nervous to uncontrollable e.g. when it comes to flying changes or jumping a parcours.

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                                      • #20
                                        To me a hot horse is one with a lot of physical and emotional energy that needs to be channeled in the right direction. If that energy starts building, you need to find a positive outlet for the horse to express it before the horse himself finds a negative one.

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