What does it mean when a horse is overfaced? When a horse is overfaced, he can become reluctant to perform the work that is asked of him. You may notice that a horse being overly challenged starts to react to smaller tasks, like the simple act of walking on a loose rein. A horse may also show behavioral issues that are unusual for him -https://www.tophorse.com.au/.
When you’re training for a competition, whether it be jumping, barrels, trail or any other competition, it’s easy to over-train a horse on a certain jump, maneuver or obstacle. It’s easy to overdo it because you think or know your horse is capable, but in some cases if you ask a little more and a little more all in one session, your horse can become anxious and maybe a bit fidgety or even shut down completely when asked to do the simplest tasks.
When it comes to obstacles or jumps (higher or less inviting), it’s easy to keep wanting to advance and get better and try harder things. While this is a great thing it can sometimes affect your overall progress and set you back, especially if you are trying to “conquer the world,” so to speak, all in one session. Now, this might seem like going against the reason why most train, to raise the level of easy. That way, when you get to the show, it is effortless. For example, the more significant the jump or harder the obstacle, that becomes your new easy. So then, when you get to the show, and you’ve been practicing jumping three feet and compete at two foot six. You walk in, and it feels easy and comfortable, and your horse will most likely feel the same. So, you can see how it is contradictory.
There is a fine line between the two and some are finer depending on the horse. One way to determine if you horse is equipped with the mental capacity to handle this type of training using the Harmony Energy Scale -https://harmonyhorsemanship.com/harmony-energy-scale-2/ can be very helpful if you find you are taking your horse to a point where they feel anxious. The energy scale will help you know the signs and symptoms for each energy state and the ideal state for learning and understanding how to help yourself and your horse find your way back to calm alert. The energy scale will help us assess if you are creating triggers for our horse and when to back off before it is created.
To ensure we are doing right by our horses and doing our best to keep them in a calm and willing state of mind there are a few things that can help guide you through this type of training.
- Asses your horses frame of mind before starting or continuing with your training for the session. You can do this by referring to the Harmony Horsemanship energy Scale.
- Ask yourself, at what point does my horse feel confident enough to compete without pushing it over that threshold, or am I overcompensating for my lack of confidence?
- If you are working on jumping a scarier jump or obstacle, try and modify it to start, like lower the jump. Or for example, if you are trying a narrow or moving bridge for the first time, make sure you have created a yes horse on a more significant sized less intimidating bridge or something less scary that moves.
- If things are falling apart and your horse is getting frustrated, take a moment to regroup or just end the session completely because if you don’t, you may end up going three steps back before you go one step forward.
- Change it up, go do something the horse enjoys for a few minutes and come back and try it again if the horses state of mind allows it.
Advancing to a new easy can be difficult especially right before a competition so just make sure that what you are asking is fair to the horse and check in with him and be aware of where his head is at in that moment.
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