Need more Energy and Ooomph?!

There's a little pony at our yard that just has the sweetest temperament, lovely little paces and a grand, but steady, little pop and yet the kids never want to ride him. They all reckon he's far too slow and ploddy and it hurts their legs after lessons. Personally, I think he makes the ideal riding school pony and I'd never hesitate to throw any beginner on him - but I will admit he does sometimes lack a little 'go' when its needed!

Some horses, just like people, aren't naturally very active and will choose the slower, more sedate pace, when it comes to being ridden. There's another horse that I know of (and a youngster at that!) that will canter around a field doing his best medium canter as if he were doing a dressage test - the need for speed just doesn't appeal to him at all!

Many people in this situation would choose to go down the nutrition route and start pumping feed into them in the hopes it'll liven them up. Realistically, their first step should be evaluating their horses mentality and trying to understand things from their point of view. Arena work can be incredibly boring for some horses and cause them to 'shut down' and lose interest. A way around this would be to ride out of the arena and incorporate their schooling sessions in fields, while hacking and not to mention the endless fun you can have on the beach (Its really just a giant arena!).

Another thing is to reward a horse when he does put the effort in - even for the smallest of tries. Think of it in human terms, would you keep over exerting yourself and trying your best if the end result was to be just ignored? I know I wouldn't ...

Fitness, of course, is also quite inportant - fat and over weight horses tend to be lazy horses! Getting your horse fitter with long hacks, beach trips and lots of interval training is the way to go. Just remember to keep it interesting! Maybe day 1: Arena work, day 2: Hacking... etc

So, this then begs the question - Can we feed for more energy? Generally speaking, the answer is no. Energy coming from the diet is not the same as behavioural energy. If you start feeding a horse more energy dense feed than they actually require it will simply be turned into body fat! A higher body fat level will in turn make most horses and ponies lazier ... a bit counter productive really.

Some people swear by adding oats to the diet for more energy. This can work in giving them energy, but this type of energy can also cause them to be spookier and fizzier ... not the type of enthusiasm were after!

So back away from the oats or racehorse cubes and assess your horses true personality type and try to look at life from their point of view. Does your horse enjoy the type of work you ask him to do? In doing so it may help you understand by your horse is not as enthusiastic as he used to be and what steps you can take to rectify it :)

No comments:

Post a Comment