The need for speed
Thoroughbreds purchased from the track are often hot and nervous due to their racing background and experience, as well as being classified as hot-blooded horses. These days, the modern Warmblood sport horses are bred to be hot. If you ask any professional rider how they like their horses, ‘quite hot’ will often be the answer. They want their horses to have the power and the will to perform. This has resulted in a trend for anyone who wants to make it – whether at amateur or advanced level – to acquire a hot horse.
Most hot horses are extremely agile, have great foot speed and are very sensitive. Hot horses need a quiet and experienced rider who will not interfere too much with their way of going. Most of these hot horses were born this way, and not made, although bad experiences and poor handling can be a contributing factor.
Is it such a bad thing?
Smaller showjumping horses often need to be more forward and have more impulsion to get over the bigger fences. Sometimes horses who lack scope may still manage to jump easily, as they use the forward momentum to get over the jumps. If you’re a confident rider, the hot horse can be quite nice to ride as they tend to be sharper and you don’t need to use excessive seat or leg pressure to get them moving forward.
As these hot horses are agile and athletic, they are usually able to get their bodies out of the way of jumps effectively. They also have great foot movement, which can be a real asset in a jump-off.
Hot horses require a lot of patience. Sometimes you will have to accept that only walking in a schooling session, because your horse is too excitable to trot and canter, is fine. Your aids need to be as straightforward as possible, so as not to confuse the horse and make him more agitated.
The forward movement these horses have, although great in most situations, can make them hard to adjust and hard to slow down. When the jumps are smaller and less accuracy is required, it may still be fine, but when the jumps get higher and the courses are more technical, it is of utmost importance that your horse listens to you and is able to come back to you in a related distance or combination.
As hot horses can become stronger around a course, especially in larger arenas, it is important that your main focus is schooling, as you need to train your horse to be obedient and listen to you at home, before you get into the show arena.
A useful exercise is riding a square – the horse must come back to the rider and collect for the square’s corners. Give and retake the reins in the corners as you don’t want the horse to power around the corners or cut them.
To develop strength and confidence in the canter, especially if your horse tries to run away from you when cantering, it is important to work on your canter more than the other gaits. Start on a small circle so as not to give the horse the opportunity to become too forward. Slowly make the circle bigger, giving and retaking the reins occasionally to establish that you have control. Only then go large, and if the horse begins to take over, circle to regain control.
Accept him for who he is
You need to be able to accept your hot horse for who he is. If you try to change him completely, it will more than likely not turn out the way you hoped, and his hot temperament will become worse. We as riders need to adapt our riding style to suit our horses, rather than the other way around. If your goal is to do a discipline that requires a quieter horse, it may be better to find a horse who suits your needs more. If, on the other hand, you love your hot horse and would not change him for the world, you’ll have to just learn to be a little more adaptable and thoughtful about finding ways to get along with him.
Text: Shari Navra
The full article appears in the February issue (119) of HQ > Shop now