Does a fitter horse always mean a sharper horse??

Mary Poppins

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My horse was overweight when I got him, and last year when I was a nervous nelly I didn't do that much with him. While I rode everyday, many days were spent plodding around the fields in walk and I remember when I found it an achievement to canter half a 20m circle.

Fast forward 18 months, and he has shed 120kg in weight, is is now ridden actively between 6 and 10 hours a week. Today I rode him twice, once in the morning where we had a fast blast around the huge fields, and in the afternoon we did some schooling. Yesterday I rode him for 90 minutes which included an hours private high intensity lesson.

He is probably fitter than he has ever been and I love his new shape. It's not really a problem, but he is also much, much sharper. He is so interested in what is going on around him, and has started spooking and jumping more. Last week I fell off when he spooked, and today he jumped out of his skin because someone moved a jump!

I love his forwardness and the fact that he is so willing in his work, but I HATE the spooking.

Has anyone else taken a fat, lazy, unfit horse and turned them into a fitter horse? Did you find that they were much sharper. I'm not sure how much of his spooking is down to spring grass as I remember him spinning lots this time last year. I'm getting his saddle checked as that hasn't been done since last summer, but health wise I don't think that there are any other problems. His teeth were done in November. My RI thinks that it's normal behaviour for a horse who has increased in condition and says that he is just feeling good about himself. I do like this, but I also want my spookproof horse back!
 

Wally

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no,

When we were doing serious endurance riding, several 50 and 100 mile rides a year, I found the fitter the horse got the calmer and more relaxed he became.
 

notpoodle

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nope. Appley is becoming fitter by the minute at the moment and is becoming more chilled, but more forward and energetic at the same time eg. just good things really :)
 

Mary Poppins

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So where is this spooking coming from? Is it really just the spring grass???

Each time he has spooked in the school (which is only really 3 times, but he has never done it before last week), it has been genuine and something that has taken him by surprise. It's just that he never used to spook at things like this.

He is very happy to work, is listening to me and working well. He has good breaks and when we were charging around the fields this morning, he came straight back to walk at the touch of the rein. He doesn't buck or get faster - it's just the spooking.

I feel like I have 'turned him on' recently and he is really lovely to ride bar the spooks!
 

Flipo's Mum

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I've found the opposite MP. More work, less spooks. Flipo is happier with routine and more exposure to stuff so he's more chilled out.
Could be some spring grass I guess?!
 

Mary Poppins

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I've found the opposite MP. More work, less spooks. Flipo is happier with routine and more exposure to stuff so he's more chilled out.
Could be some spring grass I guess?!

It's interesting to hear differing points of view. I was speaking to some people on my yard who seemed to think that he is now feeling very good about himself and is now raring to go.

I'm not sure whats up. He feels fantastic in so many ways, he feels like he is listening to me and waiting for me to tell him what to do. That's great I guess, but maybe I'm not reacting quick enough for him, hence the spooks if he is uncertain?
 

Vicki100

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I agree with the others...more work less spooky generally!! :tongue:

Finn is always really silly after time off work but settles the more he does...that said all my herd have been a bit silly with the spring grass recently!! :giggle:
 

Dizzy Woo

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I feel like I have 'turned him on' recently and he is really lovely to ride bar the spooks!

Yes! I know what you mean, Daisy has dropped a good 100kg at least over the last two years and is a much keener horse, and she does shy and spook a little more, I think it may be that we notice it more as we are now going a little faster than a safe plod :wink:
 

Tillytoo

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Not so far... me and Cracker are hacking out at least 4 times a week to try and avoid spring grass ballooning (and because I want to) He is lovely and slim and shiney and willing

He seems to be getting braver and braver, but that might be due to the increased pilot hours are doing my confidence good. Maybe a bit of both. We actually managed to get past a towering inferno (small bonfire) with only a brief discussion, hacking on our own last week!!

But this time last year I would have just gone home and cried or got off and led him past, when he did his back peddling and spin, now I just calmly sat back and kept encouraging him past. Long may the confidence thing continue.
 

Flipo's Mum

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More work = less spooky for Flipo as well. What we get instead is more forward going and enthusiasm.

May be it is some spring grass. Did you get the same last year at this time?

Oops - sorry thought my earlier post didn't send!!
 
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Joyscarer

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no,

When we were doing serious endurance riding, several 50 and 100 mile rides a year, I found the fitter the horse got the calmer and more relaxed he became.

Ditto, the more work Joy's in, the less spooky she is as I can ask more of her and this gives her less time to get bored and make her own entertainment.
 

TBminx

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Im the same...more work and more turn out in spring means happy forward horse but less silliness....unless in season then its mega silliness :tongue:

Has turn out or feed changed too?
 

TBminx

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Then it could just be the spring grass and feeling a new lease of life. When mine get new spurt of spring grass they go a bit giddy :spin:
 

Kite_Rider

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Well MP you are not alone, Belle is in much better shape now than she was when I first got her and yes she is definitely spookier, has been most of winter, she doesn't get silly but is definitely jumpier, in fact she amazed me yesterday just how quickly she can turn 180 degrees! So spring grass or fitness I don't know but Belle is definitely sharper/spookier now she's slimmer and fitter.
 

clare123

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Spring grass can be a real problem but should settle, we use a magnesium supplement all year round to try and combat and it does seem to work...late last winter I took him off it and had mad spring behaviour again, this year nothing so far.
 

newforest

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I would say the opposite, in my case we had two spooks but she hasn't hacked out for a week, so to be expected. Plus its not her forte either.
Are you feeding anything? Mine is just on Oestress and an apple.

We have had such a long winter the sign of spring grass makes me want run around let alone the horse.
 

Skib

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My share a normally placid animal returned from a summer off work far spookier. Quite unlike her. We discussed it in NR as behaviour or my riding. But owner cut her food. Said excess energy raised the spook reactions. Mare returned to being her old self.
Some RIs do say that if you school to get horse quick off the leg in indirect transitions, it makes them spookier. E.g. If you ride walk canter transitions like you have recently
. But my current RIs three different teachers say this is rubbish. Horses do these transitions in the field. Our horses were spookier hacking last week. And if Ben is too, it must be the Spring?
 

Wally

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no,

When we were doing serious endurance riding, several 50 and 100 mile rides a year, I found the fitter the horse got the calmer and more relaxed he became.

There was one exception to this rule, Stowaway was always a so and so and we often found ourselves leaping on at the las 3-2-1 from the steward at the start and doing the first 100 yards totally out of control!
 
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