What a great way to describe a horse! As I read this rider’s email and plea for help, I could almost picture what was going on for them when working together. In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast, I answer a listener’s question:- My horse is too spicy; please help! I feel that many riders may be struggling with this particular issue, so let’s dive into it.
My Horse Is Too Spicy
In this particular situation, the horse is bucking, a lot! And this is both on the lunge, and while being ridden. The bucks are showing up in walk, trot, and canter. And, working alone with her horse, this rider is beginning to doubt her ability to really cope with this in the long run.
So, what can you do when you’re faced with trying to work with a horse who, for whatever reason, is coming to the conversation with too much energy?
1. Call in the Professionals
My first thought was to make sure the horse is happy and healthy. This particular rider assured me that the horse is not ‘sore’ and that everything fits. But I think that often there are things that can be picked up on by a professional (because they have spent years training and have years of experience) that riders can miss. S
o, my first piece of advice is to call in the professionals. Vet, chiro, bodywork therapist, farrier, dentist, saddle fitter, etc. Once you have covered all of your bases there, then (and only then) continue on…
2. Gaps in the Training
My second thought was about how the horse has been developed. If everything else is good and happy, I would begin to question the basic training and how well the horse understands it. In this case, relaxation may have either been skipped completely, or not fully understood by horse or rider (or both!).
Basic training is so important when you are setting expectations. This is for both horse and rider. And remember, different riders have different expectations, so there also may be a retraining issue…
3. Natural Enthusiasm and Excitement
Some horses are just naturally more expressive when it comes to their enthusiasm for certain things they enjoy. Often this level of ‘happiness’ and excitement won’t be matched by the rider about the particular situation! If this is the case, it is important to realize that your horse is a unique individual with their own quirks…
This is where you have to begin to set expectations and manage energy a little better. And it could also be the deciding factor as to whether or not you are both going to go forward with your partnership… (more on that just now).
4. Assessing the Rider
Your way of riding is completely unique to you. Yes, there are some riders who will ride in a similar way, but you are you and you are unique! This is great – and it can be an issue when a horse is used to someone else’s way of riding! As a rider, it is important to be realistic and honest about your capabilities, your habits, and your knowledge.
My suggestion to begin exploring if this is, potentially, the issue would be for the rider to ride other horses and see what happens there.
Ideally, these other horses would not be ones that the rider will always ride and be comfortable with. Just random other horses… If there’s a pattern, it will become noticeable very quickly! And remember to take videos of yourself… So, so important especially when working alone.
You can also put a different rider onto the horse and see if the horse is too spicy with someone else in the saddle. Again, it’s about looking for patterns and seeing the changes as they occur.
5. Be Honest about the Partnership
My final suggestion is to honestly ask if this horse is the ‘right horse’ for you and if you’re the ‘right rider’ for this horse… This is often a difficult and uncomfortable thought for many riders. Especially if they have an idea about a ‘forever horse’ in your head.
Let’s be honest, if neither of you is happy with the other, I think it is best to call it a day and find a new partner (and help your horse to do the same).
This does not mean ‘passing the buck’ – literally – to someone else. If your horse needs help (physical or training-related) it is the responsibility of the rider to provide this for him. But often this help may be beyond what a particular rider can offer. This or a mismatch of personalities can often bring you to the point where you will look for another rider or owner for your horse.
Get Your Question Answered
I do hope that this will help any riders out there struggling with too much ‘spice’! If you have a question about your riding or your horse’s training, you can send me an email, lorna [at] stridesforsucess [dot] com. And I will answer your question here on the Daily Strides Podcast as well.