How to Tell If You’re Overfacing Your Horse

Print this page    
Presenting a horse with too much too soon can frustrate both horse and rider, and can even lead to some dangerous situations. Whether you’re looking at horses for sale and buying a horse, or if you’re working with a horse that you’ve owned for years, it’s important to be able to recognize these signs that you’re overfacing your horse.

Failure to Succeed

Ultimately, a major sign that you’re asking too much of your horse too quickly is that your horse is unable to succeed in performing whatever you are asking of him. For instance, if you ask your horse to jump a fence larger than any he has jumped before, and if your horse is not physically prepared with the proper schooling to face such a fence, it’s unlikely that your horse will be able to clear the fence properly.

The problem arises when your horse tries to do what you’re asking of him, but can’t succeed. If you repeatedly ride him over the fence, the fact that he is unprepared can have negative effects. Your horse can lose confidence in his own abilities, and he can also lose his trust in you. Additionally, the horse can become frustrated and nervous, making riding a negative experience.

Reluctance to Go to Work

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. He may stop “trying” under saddle, and can also seem to regress in his training.

Signs of Stress Under Saddle

An over-challenged horse will often exhibit signs of stress under saddle. Bucking, sucking back, rushing forward, evading the bit, and head tossing may all indicate that your horse is stressed and uncomfortable with the demands being asked of him.


Sadly, injury can occur when a horse is overfaced. Horses trying to perform athletic activities that they aren’t prepared for can injure themselves, and they can sometimes injure their riders in the process. If a horse is frequently sidelined by injuries, re-evaluating that horse’s readiness for his work program is a good idea.

Whether looking at horses for sale or working with a horse that you’ve owned for years, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t asking too much of your horse too quickly. Working with an experienced trainer can help you to establish a proper training program for your horse.

Share |

 Send to a friend

Your name

Your Email Address

Your Friends Name

Your Friends Email