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How to Manage a Hot Horse



Have you owned an anxious horse with pent-up energy ready to explode at any time? Like humans, there are some super relaxed horses, and horses that live on the edge with the flight response simmering under the surface.

Managing the ‘hotter’ takes a different approach to the chilled-out equine, but witnessing the positive changes you can make to a hot horse with some simple management changes at home makes the result of a less anxious and more confident horse well worth the effort. Incorporate the following 10 tips into your management plan for dealing with the hotter horse.


Review your horse’s current feeding regime. A good starting point is to read the feed bag labels to determine the amount of starch and sugar in the feed, mineral ratios, calories, and to determine the percentage ratio of hard feed to forage you are supplying. The aim is to feed a hot horse with low GI feeds, low in sugars and starch. In this issue of Horse Deals, Animal Nutritionist Larissa Bilston (BAgrDC-Hon 1) provides detailed information on how to feed the hot horse cool.


The perfect paddock pairing for the hot horse is a relaxed, quiet, and sensible companion that is not reactive. The lack of reaction from the ‘relaxed companion’ will inadvertently help the more anxious equine reduce their adrenalin and adopt some positive behaviours from their paddock mate.


The hotter horse needs time. It is important not to rush the hotter horse in anything that you do. Take time to groom, rug, feed, lead, load, and exercise the hotter horse. There can be no deadline, so remove your watch and work on the time it takes to relax and build confidence in your horse.


Watch your body language and volume around the anxious horse. Just like humans, the anxious person will become more anxious if faced with someone addressing them with aggressive body language and a loud voice. The same analogy applies to the nervous horse. Assess your body language when handling or working with the hot horse. For example, when walking to catch the anxious type of horse, question whether you are walking fast, with purpose, and thinking about everything you have to do. Take a breath and slow down with open body language. When talking around or to your horse, tone your volume down.


It is a horse’s natural being to be part of a herd; in particular, the hotter horse gains confidence from other horses. Therefore consider the housing arrangements for your horse. If he is confined to a stable or yard, ensure he has a clear view of another horse, or if the horse is part of a one-horse family, install a plastic mirror so the horse ‘thinks’ he has a companion. The more access the hot horse can have to other horses, the more he will relax.


The more anxious the horse, the more turnout time should be given. Let the horse be a horse and expel energy in the paddock, not when you try to work the horse. Extra turnout time will benefit the horse mentally and physically.


The anxious horse is more prone to gut issues such as ulcers. Many supplements on the market assist a horse’s gut health and well-being. Do your research and determine what product is best for your horse.


Horses thrive on routine, in particular the anxious type. Set up a routine for you and your horse, from feed times, let-out times, and exercise. Stick to a planned routine to keep your horse on an even keel. If changes are made to the routine, try and do it gradually to reduce the stress on your horse.


The hotter horse is often a hard keeper and picky eater, and they spend more time stressing than eating. Feed smart and offer multiple small feeds, and wherever possible, feed your horse near other horses that are also being hard-fed, which will encourage eating.


Expelling energy is important for the anxious horse, and exercise can vary from groundwork to lunging and riding under saddle. Whatever the exercise of choice, take your time and be patient and consistent in your training to obtain the desired result of a more relaxed and engaged companion.

Article: Kerri Cock

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