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The Myth of the Bad Horse

What’s this horse’s problem? Some people may say that his bad attitude is “just the way he is,” but if you get to the root of the problem, you may be able to find the solution for a happier, healthier horse.

Ready to bust the myth? We explain some of the most common problems that are often mistaken for “bad behavior.”

Ill-Fitting Tack

Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you went for a run in pants that were two sizes too small. Just like you feel your best in clothes that fit, your horse feels his best in tack that fits. If you’re not sure if your saddle is the right fit for your horse, consider contacting a saddle fitter for expert advice. A pad with shims like the Thinline Sheepskin Comfort Half Pad may also help maximize your horse’s comfort under saddle.

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Ultra ThinLine Sheepskin Comfort Half Pad

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Just like a well-fitting saddle, a well-fitting bridle is essential for a good ride. If your horse has a sensitive poll, a bridle with a monocrown like the Plymouth Elite Dressage Bridle may be more comfortable for him because the single padded strap distributes pressure more evenly than a traditional crownpiece.
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Plymouth Elite Dressage Bridle by SmartPak

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Another great option for the more sensitive horse is the Micklem Competition Bridle, which is ergonomically designed to fit the shape of the horse’s skull.
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Rambo® Micklem® Competition Bridle

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Sugar High

If your horse has too much energy, he may be getting more grain than he really needs. Most grains are high in sugars and starches, which can contribute to a “hot” attitude. Instead of big grain meals, your horse’s diet should be based on forage (like hay and pasture) with just enough (if any) grain to maintain his body condition.

Too Little Turnout

If you have a horse that’s wild in the ring, think about how he spends his day. Is the arena the only place he gets to stretch his legs? Remember that standing in a stall is quite unnatural—horses are meant to be
outside, moving around up to 20 hours per day. Providing your horse with as much turnout as possible can help him release energy and relieve stress.


A horse that’s grouchy and not performing well may be trying to tell you that his stomach hurts. Over 60% of performance horses suffer from gastric ulcers, and this painful condition has signs that range from poor performance to irritability and loss of appetite. Check out this blog to learn more about gastric ulcers and what you can do to help support a healthy stomach.

Nutritional Deficiencies

If you’ve worked with your veterinarian and your trainer to cross off the other possible reasons for your horse’s bad behavior, a nutrient imbalance may be part of the problem. Some horses need more magnesium than a typical diet provides, and clinical signs of magnesium deficiency include nervousness and muscle tension. Similarly, horses lacking in vitamin B may be anxious, spooky, or unfocused. Calming supplements
can help by providing these nutrients, along with amino acids that support a balanced nervous system, to help your horse feel focused and at ease. For moody mares, herbs like raspberry leaf and chaste berry may help support normal hormone levels and a balanced temperament.

Busting the Myth

Using these tips, together with the expert advice of your veterinarian and trainer, may help you find your way to a happier horse!

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5 comments on “The Myth of the Bad Horse
  1. Mia says:

    Terrific article. I have also found there is a direct correlation to attitude if the horse has chiropractic issues. Misalignment and bones out of place cause pain and discomfort.

  2. Renay rosby says:

    So what about nice pads for people who ride western? are any available? Thanks

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Renay, thanks so much for your question! There are several Western pads that offer a more comfortable fit for your horse:
      – The Ultra ThinLine Western Felt Liner ( can be paired with your regular saddle pad for additional support. Not only does this pad eliminate saddle slippage, it also has a unique spine design and wither profile, to comfortably accommodate a variety of conformational challenges. Last but not least, it has pockets for corrective shims (, should your horse need a more customized fit.
      – The ThinLine Sheepskin Comfort Western Square Pad ( also features the specialized wither profile and pockets for corrective shims (
      – The Back on Track Western Pad ( features Back on Track’s state-of-the-art Weltex fabric, which is infused with eramic powder to reflect your horse’s natural body heat and creates a soothing infrared thermal heat. This can help your horse warm-up faster and easier, as well as providing relief for tired muscles by increasing blood flow.
      – Last but not least, the Ultra ThinLine Western Square Pad ( offers premium shock absorption, helping keep your horse more comfortable during rides.
      I hope that’s helpful! If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to call our experts at 1-888-752-5171 or email – they’re always happy to help! – SmartPaker Sarah

  3. Nic says:

    My 6 year old pinto all the sudden began rearing, and wound up pulling a muscle in his back from rearing so much. We knew something was very wrong, he has bucked in the past, but never rearing. We put him on straight magnesium. I saw the difference in less than a week! He is so much better under saddle and in general! He used to be spooky, and has barely spooked at all!! I was shocked to see how well he does on magnesium!! The one issue that would be nice if corrected is if Smartpak made it into Smartpaks!

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Nic, we’re thrilled to hear that your gelding has been doing so well! If you’ve found a product that’s been helping your horse, we would love to hear about it in a New Product Request: In the meantime, we do offer a variety of supplements containing magnesium that come in SmartPaks and may be beneficial for your horse. Magnesium 5,000 ( offers 5,000 mg of magnesium in a pelleted form. For a more comprehensive calming approach, you might want to consider one of our customer favorites, SmartCalm Ultra (, which contains 10,000 mg of magneisum. – SmartPaker Casey

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