Jumpy Babies

Use these expert tips to calm your young show horse at home and at the show.


I don’t show personally, but I know a couple of people who show 2-year-olds in halter classes. One particular colt, new to the game, has a really annoying habit of getting hyped up before entering the show ring, and he tries to go into a trot when his handler walks him around. If the handler manages to keep him in a walk, he tosses his head about and tries to pull his head up, trying to get away so he can go gallop around.


How can he be kept calm before his class, and how do we deal with him if he gets jumpy in the show ring?


You need to spend a little more time with a horse like that, both at the show and at home.

At home, spend more time with that horse than you maybe have to with your other horses and treat him like a showmanship horse. Practice basic showmanship maneuvers like 180- and 360-degree pivots and backing to get more control over the horse, both mentally and physically.

Improve your horse's showmanship skills from AQHA’s 2008 showmanship world champion Nicole Barnes in Showmanship Basics, a FREE report from AQHA.

Next, haul the horse in the trailer whenever you can. Haul him to the vet, to town and to shows so that he gets used to the routine and doesn’t get excited about what might happen away from home.

When you go to the show, take him the night before and get him in the arena for awhile. This will get him used to the atmosphere and the idea of being in the arena calmly.

If the horse still has problems, change up the routine at home even more. Pony him on trail rides or saddle break him. He might just be bored and need something else to think about.

If he continues to be unruly in the show pen, contact a trainer who can work with the horse in person or offer more advice.

I’ve had horses like that, and it’s no walk in the park. It is frustrating, and it is time consuming, but more time and work will help him turn into a more manageable halter horse.

- AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark