how to calm down a high strung horse?

I have been riding a 9 year old ex racehorse who has been trained to do jumping. He seems to be high strung and wants to 'jig' when we ride in the arena and not calm down. I lunge him before riding and have been letting him lope and lope to try to wear him out. All this does is get him worked up more. Any other ways to calm down a hot horse?


I ride with a very loose rein and he doesn't seem scared. I have been using Clinton Anderson lunging techniques and he isn't quite desensitized to the whip yet so I stopped using it, but do make him run and turn before riding.

9 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    really, you lunge an ex racehorse and wonder why hes pumped when you get on? You aren't wearing him out, you're warming him up! Stop the lunging unless its groundwork working on specific issue(s). Start out your rides by making him walk a mile. Don't let him trot at all (even if you have to deal with a slight prance) until he is calmly at a flat walk and relaxed. I don't care if it takes 15 min or 2 weeks, you have to train him to walk and walk on a loose rein and relaxed stride. Most racehorses aren't taught to walk in the same manner that a typical riding horse it is, thats something you need to train him to do. You have to be relaxed as well.

    Then there is his feed. Maybe its too high in starches and "hot" ingredients. You may need to change what hes getting. Here is a link explains different feeds and how they affect your horse.

    Then finally, you need a good channel to allow him to positively expel his excess energy. Maybe a long low level XC course with lots of galloping straights, or if you have access to decent trails that you can really let him gallop. Off track horses make wonderful mounts, but you have to consider their training and past. These horses have been bred, trained, and experienced the thrill of running full out. If all you do is school school school, and slow slow slow, eventually they will get burned out, sour, and hard to handle.

    A horse with high energy needs to be challenged. Having good energy and endurance is never a bad thing, you just need to learn to channel it properly. Get him relaxed, then put his mind to work.

  • 4 years ago

    Gotta love barrel horses! Mine has been doing the same thing lately. What i do with him when he gets prancey or excited, is just walk. And if he insists on trotting or prancing, then i make him back up. After i back i ask him to walk. My horse is pretty good about keeping his cool. But if your horse won't walk after he backs, then make him back more. Trust me, it'll work after only a few times. And when he gets going too fast at the lope, just ask him to do small circles. They'll be good for him and he won't be able to run through them. When he starts slowing his speed in the circle, let him leave the circle, but if he speeds up again, put him back into it. Or, just apply the pressure and release system. When he's going to fast, hold a light pressure on his mouth and when he slows, release. And just continue this until he stays at the speed you want him to be at. Just remember that barrel horses feed off of their rider's adrenaline and excitment. So if you're super calm, he'll see that and probably end up pretty calm too. Have fun and Turn N Burn!! Edit: Don't listen to buckinfun. Trail riding is one of the best things you can do with a barrel horse and i absolutely suggest it. And just because it's a barrel horse, doesn't mean it can't be calm like a regular horse, you just have to work with it right.

  • 8 years ago

    Try t-touch before you ride, that way there will be so many endorphins coursing through his body he won't want to get high strung and it will be hard for him to get stressed.

    Source(s): I ride a horse that has some trust issues and a lot of fears
  • 8 years ago

    You are doing more harm than good. You need to take a step back and regroup. With these training/educational videos, if you do not or cannot follow the proper procedures and follow ALL of the steps, you are just going to make things continue to worsen and this is really bad for the horse.\

    You should not lunge this horse at all. Those who think they can "wear a horse out" with lunging is just beyond absurd. A horse such as you describe should never be lunged. It could be helpful if you could instead do some TRAINING that would engage the mind as well as the body and help him become more confident and less fearful. From what you describe, you are totally on the wrong road with this horse. You can't achieve the desensitizing with the whip so you stop and make the horse "run and turn". Really? NO. You can't just abandon something because you are not any good at it. That is your fault, not the horse's fault and you are making things worse.

    This horse needs training. He has no confidence, is fearful and he does not trust you at all but you have not earned his trust. He needs some structure, some reliability. This horse does not even have the basics as far as a foundation. He is not comfortable in his own skin. I can't believe someone thinks they have trained this horse to jump and to attempt to do so is just madness, especially for the horse. You say your ride the horse, so I presume he is not yours and other people also are allowed to terrorize this poor creature. The ower of this horse should be strapped.

    When a horse "jigs" he is exhibiting blocking behavior. Again, this is part of his being so fearful of his shadow. Track horses need to be restarted like a green colt is started for traditional riding as they know nothing of traditional techniques. Unless someone trains this horse, basic foundation, and then everyone who rides and handles him does the same thing, there is not help for this poor horse so just forget about it if you are not or cannot take the time it takes to do what should be done for this poor guy. Very very sad and basically, just wrong.

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  • Snezzy
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    It's of course a training issue. (It nearly always is.) You might try outsmarting him, although that will be difficult. Try to arrange things so that what YOU want him to do is also what he thinks he wants to do.

    You'll never wear him out. He's muscled to go a zillion miles an hour around the track. Figure out some other agenda to entice him to work for you. You might try actually riding him until he wants to stop, but the danger there is that you will want to stop long before he does. Are you as strong as you think you are?

  • 8 years ago

    I like the other answers, plus I knew somebody who had a horse used for contesting that would just stand and shake, waiting for the reins to be loosened so he could TAKE OFF. The new owner just took him out and walked him only after lunging, then eventually just got him to do some slow trotting and walking, and finally some cantering. It was a mind set with the horse to just GO. He eventually relaxed. I'd still do the ground work with your horse as well.

  • 8 years ago

    A calm older gelding or goat might do the trick, horses are herd animals if they see calm horses they become calm. CAUTION: It may have the opposite effect, he may attack them.

  • Janian
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Is there any chance he could be getting it from you? Are you stiff when riding or relaxed? Do you have a light contact on his mouth?

    If you were to let the reins go, would he calm down?

    If you're convinced it isn't a rider issue, then look at his feed, does it have lots of heating ingredients?

    Could it be a fear of something? I've seen many horses rush fences because of fear, when their owners thought that they enjoyed jumping... With horses it's often hard to tell the difference between excitement and fear.

    I would work with lots of transitions, going from walk to halt and back and doing plenty of small circles.

  • 8 years ago

    Give it drugs

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