A “hot horse” is a horse that has lots of energy, high sensitivity, and is very excitable. When people describe a horse as “hot” it’s usually a negative term- but not always! Some riders like hot horses, and many of the top race horses and show horses have hot temperaments.
The phrase hot horse is shorthand for “hot blooded”- a phrase used since the 1600’s to describe excitability, passion, or being quick-tempered. Usually, when people describe a horse as hot they mean the horse is also prone to anxiety, stress, and a strong startle response.
In this article, you’ll learn more about how to:
- Identify a hot horse
- Understand the advantages and drawbacks of owning, riding, or working around a high strung horse
- Plus 5 strategies for calming a hot horse.
What is a Hot Horse?
A hot horse may be difficult to control and may exhibit signs of restlessness, anxiety, and excitability. Hot blooded horses are known for their speed, strength and endurance. They are also often considered to be more high-strung and excitable than other types of horses.
Why Some Horses are Hot
A hot temperament in horses can be caused by a number of factors, including medical conditions, poor nutrition, and stress- but often, horses run “hot” as a part of their natural personality. In some breeds of horses, generations of breeding for speed and responsiveness rather than temperament has produced a higher number of hot horses (example: Thoroughbreds and Arabian horses).
The benefits of owning a hot horse
Some riders prefer a hot horse with a lot of energy and spirit. They are often used in racing and other high-intensity activities. Professional showjumpers, for example, value the quick reactions and speed of a hot blooded horse over a lazy one.
Hot horses are usually very athletic and can excel in many disciplines where speed and/or high responsiveness to the rider are prized. Though sometimes willfully, they are often very intelligent and can be easy to train.
Temperamentally high strung horses are usually very sensitive to both their rider’s cues and their emotions, which can make for a very special bond between horse and rider.
Challenges of Owning a Hot Horse
There are a few drawbacks to owning a hot horse. One is that they require more care and attention than a typical horse. They may need to be exercised more and may need special feeding and care.
Another drawback is that high strung horses can be more difficult to handle. They may be more excitable and may not respond well to traditional training methods. They may also be more prone to spooking and bolting.
Hot horses are never a good fit for beginner riders, make terrible mounts for most riding lessons, and should never be someone’s first horse. Putting an inexperienced rider on a high energy horse can be enough to ruin someone’s enjoyment of horseback riding. Instead, hot horses are appropriate only for experienced riders.
Think of a hot horse a little bit like the equine equivalent of a sportscar. You’d never put a young, inexperienced, learner’s permit driver behind the wheel of a finely tuned manual transmission sports car- they’d hate it and potentially harm the car! In the same way, high strung horses can be fun for experienced riders but aren’t appropriate for beginners.
Lastly, hot horses can be more expensive to care for. They may need more specialized care and professional handling.
Overall, there are some drawbacks to owning a hot blooded horse but for the right rider, they can also be very rewarding to own. With proper care, good training, and the right rider they can make wonderful companions.
The best way to care for a hot horse
The best way to care for a hot blooded horse is to provide them with plenty of exercise and stimulation. Hot horses need to keep busy and benefit from a consistent routine. It is important to avoid putting them in situations that may be stressful or overwhelming since they don’t tolerate stimulus as well as quieter horses.
Some hot horses may also require additional support, here are a few strategies for helping calm hot horses:
Ways to Make a Hot Horse Calmer
This type of horse has a lot of energy. They are often high-strung and can be difficult to handle. If you have a hot horse, there are a few things you can do to help calm them down.
Know their triggers.
First, make sure you have a good understanding of your horse’s personality and what triggers prompt them to shift from being fun to work with into an over-reactive state. Once you know what sets them off, you can avoid those situations or be prepared to deal with them.
Regulate your Emotions
Try to stay calm. Horses are very sensitive to their handler’s emotions and if you’re tense or anxious, it will only make them more wound up. Check out our article on how to relax while riding for a few research based pointers.
Give your horse plenty of exercise. A tired horse is a calm horse, so make sure they’re getting enough exercise to burn off that excess energy. If you’re unable to ride regularly, consider hiring an exercise rider.
It’s important to challenge your horse’s brain, not just their body! If you simply lunge them round and round, your horse will build stamina. Adding activities like trick training or trail riding helps stimulate a horse’s brain and wear them out in other ways.
Give them More Pasture Time
When stalled, some normally calm horses become hot due to the boredom of being cooped up. When horses graze more, they have room to slowly burn energy through the day. If possible, arrange for your hot horse to be pastured 24/7.
While sedatives are generally a bad idea unless the need for a horse to be calm is a matter of acute safety, there are horse calming feed supplements on the market. It may take some trial and error to determine the type and dosage, but some hot blooded horses can be managed through calming feed supplements.
External resource: An Irish Research Study researching the effects of horse calming products.
Feeding Hot Horses
If your horse is hot, more care should be given to their feed than other horses. Hot horses require a diet that is high in fiber and low in sugar, “hard feed” like grains should be minimized and sweet feeds totally avoided. Their diet should also be balanced with the correct amount of vitamins and minerals.
Final Thoughts on Hot Horses
While high strung horses can be a handful, they can also be very rewarding to own. With the right care and management, hot horses can be healthy, happy, and successful members of the equine community.