Riding a Nervous Horse

This week’s blog topic is about riding a nervous horse and stopping a horse who doesn’t want to stop. I say this in the video, but I will say it here as well – I typically don’t continue riding a horse that is continually nervous and not stopping when I ask. Personally, I find it much easier to work through these types of problems from the ground and then get back in the saddle. A nervous, jittery horse is not in a good state of mind for learning, so your time spent training when they are in this state can be a waste.

However, I have gotten a few questions on this topic, so I wanted to give you some tips on what I do when I feel a horse tensing up under me or when they won’t stop when I ask with my seat.

It is easy to get tense and nervous when your horses is feeling anxious, visit: http://www.crktrainingblog.com/freeconfidenceresource for more on how to handle anxiety.

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OMG! What happened to my eyes and where did all this green hair come from? :D

28 Responses

  1. William Mc Gregor
    | Reply

    What happens when you change a horses name? Can it be a problem.

  2. Kelly Lennon
    | Reply

    Really good information! Thank you

  3. TheStarWarriorHorse
    | Reply

    Thanks for posting this! I started taking riding lessons last month for the first time in seven years and I am as green as grass. I've only ridden actual lesson horses in the past and the fastest gait I have learned to ride is the trot. Now, the lessons that I'm taking are with a group of other student riders; all of them have many more years of experience in the saddle than I do. The horse that I am borrowing for the lesson isn't exactly a lesson horse. (None of the horses there are.) He's used to being ridden by a skilled rider. Because of this, I get the impression that he can feel that I'm not very confident and knowledgable and, as a result, he is taking advantage of me. When I try to get him to stop, he will only stop for a second before spinning backwards very quickly and thrashing his head up and down. And when that happens, I lose my balance and have an internal panic attack. How do I go about correcting the situation and, perhaps more importantly, remain calm and balanced in such a situation?

  4. Erin Elder
    | Reply

    I have a video request! not sure if you have one already, but a video on how to keep your horse from trying to catch up to others when riding in a group

  5. Fanny Ståhl
    | Reply

    If i'd followed these tips i probably wouldn't have broken my arm oh well .. :)

  6. Marianne Jensen
    | Reply

    Does horses by nature say "yes" or "no" like we identify them?

  7. Tia Jewels
    | Reply

    How about a green horse that does NOT want to GO!

  8. Paige The Horse Rider
    | Reply

    How do you calm down a hyper horse?

  9. Horse lover 101
    | Reply

    What happens if you're riding the horse in bucks and tries to get you off and I won't listen to you what do you do. True storie

  10. Reagan Little
    | Reply

    HELP! my horse Sugar has a very strong self-preservation. She is a nut sometimes. Just the other day she was scared for her life because of a goat! could you please help?

  11. RoamingtheUS
    | Reply

    My horse gets VERY nervous on the trail, l so thank you for the video. Now I have another tool in my belt to help her out.

  12. KalinkaSchaf
    | Reply

    First of all, thank you for all The great Videos you Upload! I have one question – I read in a Horse Magazine that (instead of pretending The scary Corner isn't there) it May also help to Look in The same direction as your horse to asure him/her that you are aware of your Surroundings, but still there is nothing to be scared of…. what is your opinion on that? thank you in advance! :)

  13. pianocat katarina
    | Reply

    exactly! the end of the vid is the key…work on the problems from the ground. THANK YOU!

  14. rebecca cavanaugh
    | Reply

    Thank you! You're an excellent educator/trainer.

  15. Lucy Henderson
    | Reply

    Hi I was just wondering whether you had any tips for handling head shy horses. My horse is a little head shy around her ears and was like that when I bought her. When she is relaxed I am able to touch around her ears however she can get quite nervous sometimes. How can I prevent this?

  16. Lucy Henderson
    | Reply

    Hi I was just wondering whether you had any tips for handling head shy horses. My horse is a little head shy around her ears and was like that when I bought her. When she is relaxed I am able to touch around her ears however she can get quite nervous sometimes. How can I prevent this?

  17. Jessica G
    | Reply

    Thank you very much for this! Just came across this while looking for solutions for my horse who is very nervous and fidgety outside the arena. Stopping isn't the issue but her being over responsive is but hoping these will help!

  18. Horse Lover
    | Reply

    This is a great video, and it kind of works on a horse that I'm riding, Smoke. He has anxiety pretty bad, and scares people, and even his owner is scared to ride him. I'm not scared to ride him, so his owner, Melissa, asked me if I could "fix" him for her, and I would, if only I knew how? Is there an easier way to get him to relax? He is involved in dressage and western, but he doesn't do dressage anymore. I recently got him to do some dressage, somehow, he calms down sometimes. (Still has anxiety). He was abused before, by a previous owner, which is why they got him in the first place. If you're going to make a video on this question, riding an anxious horse, and how to calm him down, let me know. Thanks.

  19. darktoad N
    | Reply

    k i have a question i have a horse that will do anything u ask of him in the saddle but if u get off of him off the protpy he becomes really nervous will come in to your space press up to your body and just stiffen at the neck and starts sweating and hole body shaking
    and sorry to post like this i have autism been ridding for years

  20. Ahmed Elaraby
    | Reply

    u are so professional really

  21. Chantel Cronje
    | Reply

    Could you make a video on how to ride a horse that pulls his head down in a canter?

  22. sam jest
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for this video. Enlightening!

  23. Ever Simons
    | Reply

    I ride a OVERLY nervous Arabian mare. I have had her for about f=six months and have done some heavy work with her on the ground. But she never really seems to calm under the saddle, unless ran in lunge circles for a hour. Which i hate doing because i love RIDING. I keep it calm ad slow, but she busts out into runs, and i have to constantly remind her to slow. She works herself up into nervous sweats and prances. I have to worker her on the ground DAYS before riding.
    I believe her old owner never rode her after she was fully trained, she also didnt have a lot of confidence when riding. She got away with a lot of bad habits. I Am going to take your advice from this video and the How to calm down a hot horse video, and work with her this way more. Thanks!

  24. 195419771983
    | Reply

    it would be a great benefit to not use a D ring bit, which encourages a horse to lean. Your horse is resisting the bit continuously. There is a reason why D rings are used with race horses, it gives them a hard leverage to lean on.

  25. Judy Weinmann
    | Reply

    I would prepare the horse FIRST with ground work to get him listening and focused on me…the leader. If you're already on a ride and the horse gets so nervous that it makes you feel unsafe to be on him, stop (one rein), get off and do ground work until he's prepared (focused on you and no longer worried about his surroundings because he's listening to you.) If the horse has nervous energy he needs a job to do to release some of this energy. He needs his feet to be put to work with a job which he's familiar already because you've taught these ground work skills weeks or months beforehand. If you stop and wait for the horse to relax on his own time…it's like sitting on a keg of dynamite..not knowing when it will explode! If a horse hasn't learned how to come "down" from being out of his comfort zone (which, in training you want to go there to create some anxiety, but not so much as to cause "panic")in order to be able to show him there's light ahead of this scary tunnel where he's safe again. If you never bring up the horses emotions, he will never learn how to come back down into "calm". I think this needs to be addressed and you need to go back to visit this part of training to create a more secure, trusting horse. All horses will get nervous at some time, so your job is to teach them how to deal with it so they can become "un nervous"! John Lyon's technique is to teach the "head down" cue! Different strokes for different folks. You need to find the technique that not only works for YOU, but keeps you SAFE!
    Judy Weinmann

  26. Megan M
    | Reply

    could you make a video on how to get the horse to stop on the lunge line? I'm having trouble with it.. I say whoa and it's like he is deaf.. he just keeps on going. I assure you he is not deaf

  27. country18lover
    | Reply

    what if your horse hates being worked/ridden by themselves? and they get all worked up and you don't feel safe doing anything with them when they are without another horse or pony.

  28. George Mantzaris
    | Reply

    hello from australia your videos are fantastic

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