Arabian gelding has serious anxiety issues

Question: I have a 10 year old arab that I’ve switched from the Arab circuit to eventing. I bought him as a 5 yr old and did Arab shows for a couple years. He’s a gorgeous horse and an amazing mover, but has a really hard time keeping himself under control. He is always a happy horse, with ears pinned forward. My problem with him is when we get to shows he gets so excited that he literally can’t contain himself. He ends up rearing/jumping/bucking nonstop. I’ve had a chiropractor out, a vet out, and he has no issues with back or saddle fitting. If I take him to school at a place, he’s a pretty good boy. He just really feeds off the commotion of the show. Eventing has been better, he loves to jump and does great on cross country and stadium. But dressage is the first phase and he usually rears and leaps through our test. I’ve tried lunging him for an hour before, and he just gets more excited. We generally get there the night before and that hasn’t made a difference either.
If you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down, please let me know!!!! He has amazing talent, but he is just like a child with ADHD.
Thanks! Stefanie

Answer from April Reeves: Arabians are one of my favorite breeds: they are highly sensitive and intelligent, and learn fast. And they’re just incredibly beautiful as well.

They also can get a little out of control, which always brings me back to groundwork. An Arabian can never have enough groundwork. It’s great for their minds and they catch on to it faster than many breeds.

I have many articles for you to read from my blog, as the answer to your problems is a small book. I’ll post the links below for you. I always answer questions that give a rider real results, not fluff, so take some time and go through them.

One note: It’s not likely your horse has a back issue or needs medical attention. When he is standing quiet (in his stall?) run your hand gently down each side of his spine. If he dips his back or gestures any form of discomfort or pain, you will know if his back is a problem.

So, lots and lots of groundwork! Especially for English horses: they often lack ground manners. Western horses are usually quieter, and it’s not always a “breed” thing. I’ve watched the Arabian English classes and then watched the Arabian reining classes, and it looks like two completely different breeds sometimes! Western trainers know how to connect with their horses a bit better sometimes…

Here are the links:

Arabian with fast trot:

Great article on basic manners both under saddle and on the ground – this article has the sending exercise which I believe could help your Arab:

Another good under-saddle set of exercises for framing and finishing:

One thing to always remember, groundwork needs to be done consistently and you need to keep going until you get a result, even if it’s small. Too many people give up and concede victory to the horse, not realizing you just set him up to being “trained” to become worse! This will be especially true in the sending exercise: don’t quit, even if it means you are both soaked with sweat. As long as he is still behaving badly, keep up the work. It will pay off.

Let me know how it goes Stefanie! Arabians are awesome horses! Well worth the work!

2 responses to “Arabian gelding has serious anxiety issues

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