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Tango with your horse


Fortunately, I stumbled upon this site and read the tips you have. I thought they were great! Anyway, I have a little 6 year old Welsh pony section B, that is very energetic. He needed re-schooling and He is making GREAT progress. He used to have a problem with going at a respectable pace in canter, getting on the right leg, and listening on the right rein. I have almost got him over that problem and he is so much better. I need to get energy off him in a more fun way than lungeing, riding most days and galloping in the field. I was wondering if you had any ideas? Please could you reply personally asap or post a reply on the site. Thanks so much!

From Charlie.

Hi Charlie,

You know, I used to think I had to burn off the top energy from an energetic horse in order to get anything done or to have a good and mellow ride. In many cases that is still true. The energy level of the horse does have a direct relationship with the regular exercise the animal gets as well as diet. Regular moderate exercise is always suggested as well as a diet of good hay and little or no grain (depending on what the horse is supposed to do). For an athletic horse that may be going into competition additional protein would be recommended in the diet. For pleasure horses, generally they do not need grain and do great on good grass hay (or some alfalfa if needed). If any grain is desirable to keep some bulk on the horse than rolled or crimped oats are suggested. Take a look at the diet of your pony. Most ponies do not need any grain and are generally 'easy keepers.'

That being said, I have found that I can settle a horse a lot faster if I engage his mind at the beginning of a session as opposed to simply exercising his body in circles that become mindless movement quickly. Engaging his mind means slowing things way down actually. Asking for one precise step at a time, then a stop, then one step back and then one step forward. Two steps to the right and two to the left, etc. Its a lot more like ballroom dancing. When the horse takes one or two steps as I request I give a HO! (an immediate, brief break from the pressure of the request), a Good Boy and maybe, but not always a little rub on the withers and that's it. Repeated a bit and the horse will almost immediately lick and chew when ever given the break in the action. That may be followed by a 'sigh' which indicates further relaxation. But if you never stop the action, which rewards the animal and wait for the licking and chewing and then the sigh, the energy level stays too high too long. By engaging the horse's mind one-step-at- a- time, rewarding a try at compliance, waiting for the licking and chewing and then the sigh, I calm some very high strung horses quickly without wearing them down. This is much more desirable than tiring your horse out. This way the horse learns to relax when you are with it and overall becomes calmer as well as having learned a dance step or two with you. Sure a few circles at the bginnning are fine. Then begin directional changes facing you as well as facing away from you. Do speed transitions:. walk, trot, walk, stop walk, trot, etc. Practice 'sending' the horse one way and then the other slowly and then a bit faster and then slower. Reward often like once a minute for openers. Lots of breaks with a bit of praise. All these things engage your horses mind. Dance with your horse. Don't just lunge him. Dancer partners have a lot more fun..........

Happy Holidays, Sincerely yours, Franklin

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