How to Manage Hot/ Inconsistent Horse?

My mare has three modes: bolt-y, beautiful, and balk-y. She toggles between the three pretty randomly… one moment, she’s going nicely, relaxed, even tempo, in front of my leg and super responsive…and then suddenly she won’t stop breaking into a faster gait, fighting the rein, on the forehand and bracing… then only minutes later, she absolutely refuses to move - NOTHING can move her except a few minutes of poll flexion and lateral movement, or occasionally a few minutes of groundwork.

I’m getting gradually better at managing this behavior, and I know it’s probably partially pain related (but I am managing that and seeing some degree of improvement), but she’s had these tendencies forever…

Anyone have experience with a similar horse? Any exercises that might be helpful? What do you do to settle a jiggy/bracy horse? How do you respond when a horse goes into “statue” mode (besides just whips and leg, because I do that and sometimes it works… but often it makes things worse and causes her to buck)? :confused:

I know this is a complex question, but any insights you have would be appreciated!

Yes, I know it would be wise to consult a trainer and work with my instructor, and I will do that shortly, but in the mean time I’m looking for some new techniques to try.


Isn’t this the mare that is perfect bridleless, happy and eager to learn new tricks like piaffe/passage and is (or will become shortly?) your beginners lessons horse as well?

You should seek professional help.

ETA: Where is Beentheredonethat?

Firstly, have her joints been medicated? Are you feeding painkillers and joint supplements? Does she get seen by a physio/dentist/saddle fitter regularly? If it is pain related, it’s not really fair to ask much of her. Try giving her a double dose of bute for a week, and see if it impacts on her behaviour under saddle. This might give you a better idea of what is personality and what is discomfort.

Thank you! I’ll do that…

Not teach it trick passage, for starters.

You absolutely need professional help.

Most of your complaints and questions have a great deal to do with learning to ride, as opposed to simply managing to sit on a horse, and sort of steer from here to there.

[QUOTE=merrygoround;7496256]You absolutely need professional help.

Most of your complaints and questions have a great deal to do with learning to ride, as opposed to simply managing to sit on a horse, and sort of steer from here to there.[/QUOTE]


And giving her extra bute is just masking YOUR mistakes. For the love of all things holy, get lessons on this horse, or just leave her be.

For hot and inconsistent, you need to be calm and consistent

Be careful of this - it can precipitate severe ulcers (bleeding), also bute masks certain types of pain better than others … it’s best to conduct bute trials with a knowledgeable equine vet.

It’s none of my business but it sounds more & more as if this mare is really at retirement status unless OP wants to invest in a thorough vetting to determine underlying issues & then is prepared to treat appropriately.

After having her checked to be sure she is comfortable, And assuming your working with a trainer. Try hacking out, my mare was getting kind of balky (but could also fly off the handle) At the end of last show season. I took a month and all we did was hack out. That seemed to work the problem out.

Also because she can bolt suddenly, you might have a little bit of the hand breaks on, which could be causing her to balk, (I only mention this because I have to be mindful that I do not do this when I feel insecure on my horse)

Be the opposite of your horse.

You’ll try what? You’ve been incredibly vague on how exactly this horse is being treated, other than that it’s getting bute (which isn’t always the most helpful, and only treats certain kinds of pain). Is it getting a feed through joint supp? An injectable like Pentosan/Adequan/Legend? Actual joint injections in the problem joint(s)? Have x-rays been done of the problem area? Has it seen a saddle fitter?

Honestly, it sounds like this horse is in a lot of pain, and trying everything she can to tell you that, in no uncertain terms. It sounds like a horse that’s trying to be good, until it hurts too much not to act out.

Go take some lessons elsewhere, and let this horse have some time off until you can figure out what’s wrong, and treat it appropriately.

You need to post video. There are signs of trollism here and I think you need to either negate those or realize that you might not be getting the advice you really seek.

This has to be a troll.

OP did also post over in Horse Care looking for a bodyworker.

I read a couple of your threads, Zaparaquah, and, at this point, I am thoroughly confused about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. You might just be thinking out loud, I don’t know.

Anyway, if that horse you are writing about is a real creature (and she should be considering the photos), she needs some serious medical attention. It might not be “just” an arthritis that is bothering her.

The way you describe her behavior- she does not want you up there! So, if you care about her, stay off her back, please.

I know, you claim, you have stayed off for last six months, so that’s good. Then again, you say, you are trying to “bring her back” now. Don’t just yet.

Sort out what is really bothering her first. As her guardian, you owe it to her.

In the thread about the saddle fit, you wrote, her back and especially withers are “super sensitive.” Not good. Channel your resources towards a thorough vet exam. Have some x-rays done, etc.

Painkillers are not a solution.

Considering the information you have posted so far, you might want to start practicing coming to the grips with the fact, she might not be rideable anymore.

Good Luck to you and your mare!

Does the behavior consistently go in that order? Start golden, get go-ey, then grind to a halt? If so I would look very carefully at the structure of your rides, and change it. It may be you need shorter rides for now, or better breaks between sets of work for various muscle groups. Not at all unusually for form to degrade as muscles get tired, and it we miss that clue (rushing, running off, falling on forehand) then balking can be another option for the horse to communicate her need for a break, or change.

 If it is more "random" - a bit of this, a bit of rushing, a bit of nice, being very clear and consistent in your aids - and release of aids - will help your horse understand which is the desired answer to the question you are asking.

 Having eyes on the ground to point out when the horse is lovely and we haven't noticed, or when they are starting to get crooked or unbalanced and we haven't noticed, is very very helpful. Very. :)   Sometimes even a non-horsey friend can be trained into  watching our lessons and then at least some of our work in between, and pointing out things they can see which we maybe can't feel, or are too wrapped up in something else to notice.

At my barn, you can see the ring from our house, and boy do I value the comments my partner makes about what she has noticed through the window. This is generally commentary on lessons I was teaching, but even then. I may have been so focused on some element of the work that I didn't notice another piece falling out, or I may get so used to some pattern in the horse and rider that I stop seeing it as clearly as I should. A little outside feedback can be great!

It also just might fry her kidneys. Seen it.


I have one who can be like that. She has never bolted, but there have been times when her only gaits were a jig, a sewing machine trot, and a porpoise canter. There are times she plants her feet, and the only direction she will go is backwards.

Dealing with it is simple, but it isn’t easy.

1- Make sure you aids are accurate and consistent. Make sure your legs stay still except when you are giving an aid, especially when posting. Make sure your hands are still, and NEVER “clutching”.

2- Never do too much. If Belle starts fussing, it means I am asking for too much, mentally or physically. Especially when she is coming back after time off. If her muscles are tired, it is counter productive to keep working on the exercise. The trick is to try to stop just BEFORE she gets fussy. It is better to do 10 minutes of good work, and the stop, than to follow it with 40 minutes of bad work. Better to either end the ride entirely after 10 minutes, or go for a relaxed hack.

  1. Work with your vet. When Belle started rushing jumps, it turned out she had Lyme. Another behavior problem turned out to be ulcers. I would NEVER give bute as a diagnostic unless SPECIFICALLY directed by my vet.