So the question is, do you deal with a hot anxious horse? And if so, here are some of the tips and tricks that I’ve done! Heres to handling horses that get really bad anxiety at a barrel race and especially before they actually go to their run.

With my experience of having this horse that had really bad anxiety, he was just a nervous wreck. Like he was kind of sad, he just could not handle his emotions! He was unmanageable and how we went about it, it eventually got a lot better. But it definitely is something that’s going to take you a lot of time.

So the one big important thing that I think is all, like, it’s usually missed, but it’s something that we should do as riders. If we’re dealing with a hot horse, especially before a run, let’s not nitpick anything! Let’s make their job as easy as possible and as stress-free as possible. At a barrel race, we want things to go perfect and right, but at the same time, our job there is to barrel race and not train. So if your horse is hot even way before your run and they’re anxious and they’re just not loping pretty, or whatever. We have to evaluate, we’re not here to get perfect circles. Obviously it would be nice, but if you’re dealing with that hot horse, it just might not happen.

So what I would recommend is get your warmup done as best as your ability. Once your horse is warmed up, not a ton, not to burn them out. We always say “you’re not going to run a marathon before a marathon.” Just use the warm-up so they’re ready to go compete and not hurt themselves. Once your warm-up is done, quite literally just get off. Get off, hand walk them, let them relax, and let them chill out.

What we did with this horse before our race was catch him off guard.

Before the next five horses, if we’re in that drag, we would still be off his back standing. We would just stand there and he’d sometimes be sleeping and not even realizing what is about to happen to him. And then when our name was pretty much called, we’d get on and then try and get to the chute. That just eliminated all the problems. There’s no fighting because you didn’t have time to do the fighting and there was no time for him to get anxious because before he knew it, he was going down the alley to do his run. He didn’t have time to think about it and get hyped about that area of the chute.

You’re eliminating the problem before it even starts.

It will take time. Obviously the second we got on and headed in that direction, he might want to fight a little bit. But if I have forward motion, I’m winning and I’m going. If you have forward motion it might not be the perfect forward motion you want or he’s not shaped right and you’re not getting him “picture perfect.”  The mission here with the hot horse is just to get them in on all four feet, which as I said, it could be a struggle! I think it’s kind of manmade and if we just focus on getting our forward motion when it’s our time to go. So like I said, it might take a bit of time, but definitely just think of eliminating all the things that they can get nervous about.

Do it for your horse.

I was thinking we want the warmup mostly for ourselves. Before I run I’m thinking about what I’m going to have to do. But at this point, we have to just think about our horse and do it for the horse. If we don’t get the best warmup we want as riders, we still have to think about the horse. He doesn’t need all that warm-up. He doesn’t need all that time on his back right now. He needs to relax. And how we relax is just by standing still and/or being hand walked.

Let me know what you think about that. That’s our experience and it turned out pretty good. He was a really nice ex Rainer. Just had anxiety issues. He was for my mom and she handled him really well and eventually he was fine. He got nervous and tense as most horses do but we had the forward motion and we did not make a big deal out of anything. So it ended up working out pretty well. 

So let me know what your thoughts are on that and thank you for reading/watching.