What are some training tips for a horse who anticipates in the show ring? We have an aging show horse who just will not walk (breaks into the trot and canter at the slightest noise). I feel as though this is somewhat common in some of the more seasoned show horses – is that true? Regardless, Contro is a gentleman at home and in the warm up ring, but the moment he hears the announcer, he becomes very naughty (he is an ex Saddleseat horse – converted to huntseat). I’m hoping someone may have some great ideas on this one.


Jenny :)

8 Responses to Anticipating

  1. morganmonarch says:

    i think that it is important for those young show horses to know “their job” and give them definition in their work. For those older horses, our seasoned show stoppers I think there is something to say for the variety in their work routine. We vary when we ask for their walks, trots and canters, and sometimes asking for things that may never ask for in the show ring. Also if you think that the announcer’s noise is the problem try getting a recording of it and playing during the less or even over the speakers at the barn.

  2. TrotOn77 says:

    There are actually CD’s that you can buy that have all kinds of noises that make horses nervous/anxious. They make them specifically for the training and desensitizing of police horses. For the walking problem, what I’ve found works is either:
    a.) When the horse goes to trot, let them but after a few strides shut them down and make them stop.
    b.) When the horse goes to trot, immediately halt and only continue walking when they’ve relaxed and are being respectful.

    Exposing the horse to a lot of different sights & sounds helps a lot too. The key is desensitizing

  3. SO there are about a million ways you could address this at home, including the helpful CD that plays common Show Ring sounds, including the announcer. I use this CD a ton and find it tremendously helpful. However, what you describe sounds very much like the horse knows the class routine, knows when he is at a horse show, and knows when he can get away with it and when he can’t. This makes it very difficult to address at home, because try though you may to recreate a replicated show ring scenario, your horse sounds like he is clever enough to know the difference. I had a horse several years back who was really anticipatory in the show ring when I got him. Perfect at home, not so much at the show. For that horse, I tried every trick in the book at home, and he would still not behave at the show. So, we packed the trailer, threw him on, and we went to every one day show we could find. We would unload, paint feet, clip up… copy everything we could to keep the routine. At these shows in my area, you don’t even enter the ring at a trot. You walk in, find your spot on the rail and wait for the class to begin. No kidding! We did command, egg and spoon, adult equitation, and no two classes ran in the same order. Yes, I felt like an idiot with egg down my pants, but after a couple of shows, the old horse was so turned around he didn’t know what to anticipate! Also, I could reprimand him freely at these shows because when I blew the class to correct him, I was out a whopping $5 entry fee! And the judges there didn’t know what they were looking at anyway, so it wasn’t like I was damaging the horse’s reputation or my own, for that matter. Worked really well for me, and it permanently corrected that particular horse. Not a solution that is feasible for everyone, I suppose, but it will work if you can find the time to miss a couple of Sundays to find your local show circuit hot spots. And the best part… no one ever has to know! ;-)

  4. PS– as a general rule with a horse that won’t flat walk, the less fussing you do with their bridle, and the more you can settle your weight into their back in a relaxed manner with your lower leg away from the horse, the better they will walk. Another trick is to actually halt the horse and squeeze lightly with your leg, and release when they relax and then do the same thing at the walk, so that the leg pressure doesn’t ALWAYS mean we are getting ready to do another gear. Lateral leg yields and halting into a haunch turn for your reverse will often times help a horse relax about outside leg pressure as well.

  5. jns767 says:

    I love it and had no idea that made such CD’s. I can’t wait play around with it. I do relax and settle my weight into the horse in the ring, but it doesn’t fully work. He becomes very frustrated easily too, and tends to rear up – I don’t know if it’s anxiety or if he truly just doesn’t enjoy the shows anymore. Regardless, an amatuer rider at the barn has been riding him and I’m going to get her started on “mixing” ole’ Contro up! THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  6. leslie says:

    My horse fits that profile. He’s now 20 and is pretty much a push-button saint at home. In fact, he’s almost lazy in the ring. But once we’re in the show ring he reverts to his younger days and refuses to walk. His big thing is anticipating the canter. Once he’s done about two steps at the walk he starts to turn sideways and then when he finally does get to canter he’ll launch into it. Not exactly the ideal classic pleasure move.

    I’ve changed the canter cue so that instead of using outside rein, I just use inside leg at the girth, outside leg behind the girth and no rein, the idea being that then he won’t go sideways when he thinks it’s time to canter. Other than that, I just sort of turn into a sack of potatoes at the walk and talk to him, which sometimes works but isn’t so great in equitation.

    I like that he can still get fired up for the show ring, since he’s such a Quarter Horse at home sometimes. On the other hand, it would be nice if he could channel all that energy into a stellar performance instead of doing his best impression of a green broke three-year-old.

  7. allaboutmorgans says:

    Alicia….where can you buy the CD you refer to in your Oct. 29, 2008 posting?

Leave a Reply