AMA: How Do I Keep My Thoroughbred From Getting Tense?

Q: I bought an OTTB about 8 months ago and he’s coming along really well as a hunter/jumper. But he gets very flustered when other horses are in the arena with him and tends to go into ‘race mode’. How do I help him understand there’s no need to get so tense?   A: With any… The post AMA: How Do I Keep My Thoroughbred From Getting Tense? appeared first on Heels Down Mag.

AMA: How Do I Keep My Thoroughbred From Getting Tense?

Q: I bought an OTTB about 8 months ago and he’s coming along really well as a hunter/jumper. But he gets very flustered when other horses are in the arena with him and tends to go into ‘race mode’. How do I help him understand there’s no need to get so tense? 
 

A: With any young and green horse, training takes time, repetition and patience. The more your horse is exposed to working in an arena with other horses (also working around him) the more he’ll come to understand this is normal practice. Some days may go better than others, so don’t get frustrated.

While you want your horse to feel comfortable with his surroundings, it’s key that he’s paying attention to you (his handler or rider) and his job even with the distraction of other horses around him. If you feel unsafe when he gets tense like this, start on the ground. There are plenty of groundwork exercises you can do in an arena while other horses are being ridden. Again, try to keep his attention on you and what you are asking him to do. Once you feel confident about the groundwork, you can add in lunging him under tack in an arena with other horses. If going around in a circle at the trot and canter isn’t enough to keep his attention, add in some pole work and plenty of transitions to keep his mind on the work and less on the other horses passing him by.

Next, you’re ready to get on. All the same principles still apply. When you feel like your horse is getting distracted and perhaps a bit tense because someone else cantered by you, change up the routine. Start with transition work, trot-to-walk, trot six strides-halt-walk six strides. Try spiral-in/spiral out circles and more cavaletti poles. Get his focus back on you, and when he does come back, always remember to give him a lot of praise for it. Treats (especially during the ground work phase) can go a long way. Good luck! 


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The post AMA: How Do I Keep My Thoroughbred From Getting Tense? appeared first on Heels Down Mag.