Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price
Find out what to do when your horse’s behavior is causing you to doubt your ability to manage him.
Your horse can become hyperactive from many reasons. Find out what could be causing your horse’s excessive heat.
Are you a hot mess with your horse? Is your horse agitated or nervous?
Clair Thunes (PHD), an horsewoman and equine nutritionist , was my guide. She was my daughter’s Pony Club volunteer. Today, Dr. Thunes is the District Commissioner of the Salt River Pony Club in Gilbert.
The horsewoman has been a lifelong horsewoman. Here are her thoughts on the causes of your horse’s crazy behavior.
1. It’s the Feed
Calories are energy. If you feed your horse more calories than he needs for the work he is doing, he might have more energy than he can use.
Net result: An anxious, worried horse.
Dr. Thunes says, “It’s Energetics 101.” “If you overfeed calories–nonstructural carbohydrates like grain in particular–that can amp up your horse’s energy levels.”
She recommends that you check the horse’s condition.
If your horse is overweight, that is, if he is gaining too much weight, then you should rethink your feeding program. Ask yourself if my horse really needs a concentrated feed. Is it possible to maintain my horse’s weight and work ability by feeding him good-quality hay. It may be true.
She also mentioned that ration-balancers are a great way to add protein and nutrients to a small amount.
A lower-calorie, stemmier-grass hay might be useful for those who are particularly good at keeping hay. She notes that hay such as this will contain fewer calories per pound.
One caution: Dr. Thunes warns that you should not starve your horse to try to control his behavior. You want him calm and content, not malnourished and bored.
2. It’s a source of pent-up energy
This is related to #1. However, even if a horse doesn’t get too rich a feed, he might still be hot if he gets too little exercise.
Dr. Thunes says, “We believe we allow our horses to move freely when we ride for an hours and then lock them up for most of the day.” But even though our workouts are intense, they are not the same as walking all day. Horses do better when they are turned out than confined.
“Plus, a lot horses just don’t work that hard when they are ridden.”
Evidently, the greater the turnout, the better.
She also mentioned that an anxiety problem could occur if your horse acts silly despite being out all day, as she did in #3.
3. It’s a lack of mental, physical comfort
Horses can be confused and uncertain, which can lead to anxiety and worry. This will manifest in their behavior.
Dr. Thunes says, “When we ask horses to do things that they don’t understand, it creates anxiety & tension.” “The horses don’t understand and they ‘tell’ us that in ways that we don’t appreciate.”
You can make sure that you have taken your horse through all of the necessary steps to get him to understand what you are asking.
Horses can also become agitated if they feel pain. Dr. Thunes’ daughter’s pony is an excellent example.
She says that he started to have problems moving forward. He would kick out when asked to trot. His topline had developed, and the saddle that he had been professionally fitted with four months prior was too narrow and pinching.
Equine nutritionist/horsewoman Clair Thunes, PhD, says knowing your horse well can help you figure out why he’s antsy and “hot.”
4. It’s a poor match
Sometimes a horse is just too much for us. Your horse may feel too hot if his inborn disposition or energy level (that is, his spiritedness) are higher than your riding skills and abilities.
Dr. Thunes says that anxiety can cause tension in horses, which will stimulate their high-strung behavior. Your horse will reveal your weaknesses! The trust between you two won’t exist, so the trust will not be there.
You must be the one who changes in a situation such as this. Perhaps you can improve your skills by learning lessons on a mount that you are more comfortable on.
Seek professional advice and, if necessary, match your horse with someone more suitable.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!