I believe the best and easiest way to explain how to calm down a hot horse is by using an example. But before I do that, I need to make you aware of something important.
If your horse isn’t mentally sound, then you must take care of that first and foremost because if your horse can’t focus on what you’re trying to get him to do, or not do, then how can he learn?
Now, on to how to calm down a hot horse…
Levi is a prime example of a horse that thought he always had to go fast. He had won some money, and was on his way to being a pretty great barrel horse. But it was impossible to just ride him around on a loose rein. He was sent to me for a tune-up, and one of the things I immediately noticed was that he always wanted to be out in front of me when I was riding him. Every time I’d get up on his back, he would immediately think, go, go, go.
Calm Down A Hot Horse | Method 1
The first thing I did was bump a little on the right rein. I would pull the rein lightly then let off, then pull lightly again, then release. This made it a little uncomfortable for the horse to remain hot and continue going faster than I was asking. I simply kept doing this until I felt the his feet calm down. As soon as his feet slowed down, even just a little, I released all pressure and made that feel good.
He didn’t understand at first, and kept going back to that really fast pace. But I was persistent and kept making that uncomfortable for him. After about 15-20 minutes, he started to figure out that in order for that annoyance to stop, he had to slow down his pace. Using this process to calm down a hot horse will bring a change pretty quickly.
Once again, this is why timing is critical. Had I stopped doing the little bumps before or after he slowed down, he wouldn’t have understood that slowing down was what caused the bumps in the rein to go away. It was crucial that my release of pressure (the bumps in the rein) happened the very second I felt those feet slow down.
Here’s some before and after videos of this process:
Calm Down A Hot Horse | Method 2
Instead of just letting him walk in a straight line, I started having him do some multiple direction changes in a 30 foot area. Multiple direction changes work better to calm down a hot horse than figure eights. I let all of that excess energy drain out through his feet by doing some work. After a few minutes, he started slowing down, so I let him relax and walk in a straight line.
Then he started going fast again, so I redirected the energy back to those direction changes. Within just a few sessions of this, he started learning that whenever he sped up it meant he had to do those direction changes again which were a lot harder than walking in a normal, straight line. I was simply making it easier for him to walk at a slow pace and more difficult to walk fast or trot.
Here’s a video of this process:
After about a week of doing these little exercises, the problem was totally cured. I could now ride Levi on a loose rein, and he would hang his head and relax. In fact, Levi got so good that I could just cross my arms and ride him with no reins at all. Those were just two of many methods that could have been used, but those particular ones are what I have found work quicker and better to help calm down a hot horse, both physically and mentally.