Competition warm up issues

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by Violet, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Violet

    Violet New Member

    Would like to hear of how others may have addressed this issue. I have a horse who has done a little competing with his previous owner, not a lot, but he has had some competition exposure.

    I took him to his first competition recently and discovered he is frightened of horses coming towards him, and generally couldn't deal with the atmosphere. All the evasions came out, rearing, spinning, bucking, refusing to move. Fortunately I was able to warm up away from others but that won't always be the case.

    I think before I compete again I will try and expose him to as many 'different' environments as possible so he gets used to seeing different things. He does go to club rallies but of course that doesn't have the atmosphere of a competition.
  2. Sugar's Mum

    Sugar's Mum Gold Member

    Hi Violet. When i have hd this issue in the past it was very easily sorted. I simply got in a nice large work area and got my friends to ride their horses around me while I asked my horse to just stand still in the middle of it all.

    First time he was very very distressed, trying to rear (One rein stop) adn run away. But in the end I could sit there with a long rein, horse asleep while others walk trot canter all round even jumping.

    It's great to have friends when you have an issue like this :)
  3. Lucksta

    Lucksta Well-known Member

    Going through this atm, however my guy isn't too bad.

    I've found forwards is the best thing for him.. I don't walk in warm ups as it gives him the chance to try and be silly. We either do a FORWARD trot or a canter.

    Before a show I cut him off all high protein food, I know this isn't a pernament answer but I also think that too much energy = nervous behaviour.
    I have also been giving him MagE, have seen a definite difference :)

    I think the more exposiure you give them the better..
    My guy is fine with 2-3 horses cantering around him calmly so he's fine at ARC/home, however warm ups (or even worse, hack rings) with 10+ horses going nuts is a whole new level of fish *#)
  4. Deb2

    Deb2 Guest

    I'm a bit along the same lines as Lauren. Cut the high energy feeds right down a couple of days before outing, and up the fibre of course.

    If you have a horse prone to rapid weight loss, I guess you have to weigh up the down sides to reducing hard feed versus the body weight he will lose if he gets over excited and stresses weight off.

    Work him consistantly the three or four days leading up to outing.

    Have all your behaviours sorted well beforehand. He must respect you and look to you for leadership.

    Expose him to many many outings, and make sure he is not expected to compete at every one. Sometimes just take him for a look and a lunge.

    Give him a double cuppa of chamomile tea morning of show or outing. Two teabags in a couple of cups of boiling water, steeped until cool, squeeze out tea bags and pour liquid over his breakfast.

    He will get better.
  5. wattle6180

    wattle6180 Gold Member

    My suggestions:
    Find a quiet area of the Grounds to Warm-Up
    If you can't, do a working-walk up and down the driveway area - especially if the class is a lower level. You can do this as much as needed, and not go near other horses.
    Try Blinkers

    St Johns Wort for the Rider :p
  6. Go the Distance

    Go the Distance Well-known Member

    Rearing, bucking and spinning all happen when you jam up the front end. Let go of the contact and run the horse forward, really forward.

    I have an arab mare that I have to get on, make her stand until I have tightened my girth and then I give her head and she flogs froward. The amount of distance she has to do this is slowly decreasing. If I jam her up she props and rears.

    Let go of the front end and ride forward even if it is for half an hour. As for fear with on coming horses if you have them jammed they get claustrophobic and feel they cannot get out the way of on coming traffic. Give the horse some contact and teach him that he can move out of the way if he needs to. This is something in endurance that sometimes is difficult for horses to learn especially when we are sharing a track with traffic both ways at a comp.
  7. TBPA

    TBPA Well-known Member

    Just be aware that Chamomile is a swabbable substance.

    I really do not miss horses with this problem!
    I think the best is to have a really solid warmup routine that you are 110% comfortable with at home and then stick to it when you head out. It really is a good idea to work the horse away for the others let their adrenilin cool and then gradually get them to work closer to the other horses once they are not so overwhemed.

    Above all you must remain completely calm yourself! If you are the type of rider who gets really stressed at outings it is not a bad idea to get someone who does it all the time to give your horse a couple of rides out (and start small ARC/small gymkanas etc).
  8. fuddles

    fuddles Well-known Member

    l suffered for years from this problem.
    it wasnt until lat year that my horse and l got over the warmup blues

    cure was, l joined the formation riding team at club where we over came our demons. First couple of practises l did hit the deck, the team would go back to walk for passovers and made allowances for my horse. Also the very important thing as a rider was to sit up straight keep the legs on and forward (mine have a tendency to fly back) and just shove him through and tonnes of praise.
  9. Deb2

    Deb2 Guest

    I did not know that, thanks for mentioning it. In that case, just use it on the days that you go to outings non-competitively.;)
  10. mav

    mav Well-known Member

    i found lunging first took off that first blast of nervous energy and was safer for me to get on!! then sticking to my warm up plan i use at home... oh and putting a red ribbon in her tail and allowing people to see her get spacky and they stayed out the way!!
  11. samgard

    samgard New Member

    As mentioned by others, working around heaps of horses outside the competition environment is a brilliant way to get him used to it as well as being aware that your behaviour may be different as well which may exacerbate the problem. Stiff seat, tighter rein contact and more leg may be upsetting him as well as nerves or stress (i.e being worried about what others think of you and/or your horse). Also, is the tack you use the same as at home? Different saddles, saddle pads, bridles and bits can upset an overly sensitive horse. A good product to help with nerves for horse (and rider) is Rescue Remedy - a natural product that (unless the rules have changed) is not swabbable and works well. 1ml over the tongue (use a plastic syringe as the bottle comes with a glass eye dropper) and 1ml mixed into their water bucket at the show (and even the night prior) works really well. I've heard of successes with a multitude of horses (and riders).

    Good luck, and remember to have fun no matter what :)

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