One thing that gets brought up often is the question of slowing down a hot horse. These are the types that have more desire for movement than ability to relax, and often once they get going get out of control, at least somewhat.
So to understand what to do about a hot horse, we need to look at why they’re so speedy. As always, investigating the horses entire life is essential.
Are they getting enough movement? Are the cooped up in a stall and coming out fresh, anxious, stiff and excited? Horses need to move, so for the energetic horse my first step is to eliminate the stall.
Are they in the right herd situation? This is always helpful to help calm an anxious horse. What their 23 hours of the day you aren’t with them are like are almost more important than the one you’re together.
What are they eating? Often energetic horses are being fed like race horses and expected to walk calmly. If they’re getting fed large amounts of carbohydrates and sugars, as is typical of most commercial grains, this can be quite problematic. Horses were designed to eat low quality forage throughout the day, but a typical boarding barn feeds for convenience: meals with high calorie hay and grain with long periods of time with no food. This is about the worst thing you can do for a horses brain, feet, and body.
If your horse is getting enough movement, enough forage, doesn’t have ulcers or physical problems, it’s time to look at the riders and the horses balance.
After checking saddle fit and bit fit, making sure the rider is loose and not pulling is essential. Horses being prey animals do not relax well with riders that tense up and pull, and often a pulling rider is the difference between a horse that can become confident slowing down, and one that panics and goes faster.
If the rider is loose and the horse is still fast, now it’s time to work on the horses’ balance. Often this is best done at the walk. Often horses who become too fast compensate by stiffening and speeding up. Helping the horse loosen their back, neck and shoulders is often the ticket to helping these horses find confidence in their gaits. This is the premise of classical dressage, and many manuals have been written with step by step plans laid out on balancing and educating the horse.
It’s important to understand, your horse does not want to be fast all the time. They don’t enjoy being tense, and likely are wasting lots of energy doing this. Yes, some horses are more inclined toward movement than others, but no happy, balanced horse is fast all the time. Most of the time actually, when you get these horses right mentally and physically, they find huge relief in being able to slow down.
In summary: check the diet, turnout, body, teeth, tack, and rider. Then balance the horse.