It seems sensible to follow a blog about calming a horse down, with one about how to wake a lazy one up.

Again, there is much more than diet to consider when we try to help a horse have more energy and enthusiasm in their work.

A horse lacking dietary energy would lose weight - simply feeding a lazy horse more dietary energy usually causes them to get fatter and more lethargic (unless the feed is starchy).
A horse lacking dietary energy would lose weight – simply feeding a lazy horse more dietary energy usually causes them to get fatter and more lethargic (unless the feed is starchy).

Some horses are not particularly motivated to put effort into their work, or are just naturally slow. Putting more thought into getting to the horse’s mind rather than just their body and understanding things from their point of view are the most effective ways to help them to be more enthusiastic. Some horses find arena work dull and pointless so the rider needs to be very provocative in order to keep the horse interested. Some horses are better ridden regularly out of the arena, even for their schooling.

If your timing could be better and you miss your horse putting effort in and don’t reward it, they can become less likely to put effort in, so improving your timing and rewarding your horse for even the smallest tries can really help.

Getting your horse fitter with long hacks in interesting countryside including beaches and fun rides can help get them more energetic.

Feeding starchy grain can give horses more energy in their work, but it can also make them more reactive and spooky.
Feeding starchy grain can give horses more energy in their work, but it can also make them more reactive and spooky.

Just the opposite to the fizzy horse, stabling the lazy horse can give them more energy in their work, although stabling brings its own disadvantages including an increased risk of health and behaviour problems.

Can we feed for more energy? For most horses, the answer is, unfortunately, no. Dietary energy is not the same as behavioural energy. For most, if you fed more energy than they require for their work and daily maintenance, they will put on body fat. Higher levels of body fat will make most lazy horses even slower and less enthusiastic.  However, some horses do respond to dietary starch with more exuberance, so feeding them grain or coarse mixes can give them more ‘go’. It can, however, make them more reactive and spooky so you need to try this strategy carefully. Energising supplements might be worth a try but they might not help all horses.

Try to assess your horse’s character and look at life from their point of view. Look at your own skill level; your feel and timing, and consider if your horse enjoys the work you give him or her to do. Doing so will help you to understand why your horse is not as enthusiastic as you would like, and give you a better idea of how to help them become more enthusiastic about their work.

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About Clare MacLeod

Clare MacLeod MSc RNutr is one of the UK’s few registered independent equine nutritionists who also has expertise in health and fitness. She advises private and commercial clients in all sectors of the horse world and is a hands-on horse owner herself. Clare is passionate about correct nutrition as a foundation for good health, without which peak fitness is not possible. She states “Good nutrition isn’t everything, but there’s nothing without it”.